Summit County is home to many scenic stretches of road that are perfect for motorcycle riding. Riders often enjoy checking out the Ten Mile Range and cruising down curved mountain roads.
Unfortunately, a collision with another vehicle can cut an enjoyable ride short in a hurry, and motorcyclists are disadvantaged in collisions with larger vehicles.
Because motorcycles lack many safety features found in cars – seat belts, airbags, and a strong roll cage – riders and passengers are more likely to suffer severe injuries in an accident. There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of injury or death in a motorcycle accident:
- Always wear a helmet that fits snugly. Remember to replace your helmet at least every five years and any time you’ve been in an accident, even if you weren’t hurt. Helmet use reduces the risk of head injuries by 69 percent and lowers the risk of death in a motorcycle accident by 37 percent.
- Wear protective clothing made for motorcyclists, such as heavy, durable jackets, motorcycle pants, boots, and gloves. These items offer some protection if you’re ejected from your bike and make contact with the ground.
- Look at the weather forecast before your ride. Motorcycles are always tricky to see due to their relatively small size (compared to cars and larger vehicles). Clouds, fog, or rain can reduce visibility and further increase the risk that another motorist won’t see you.
- Give your bike the once-over before you leave to ensure everything is working correctly. Having one headlight or taillight out in your car is less than ideal, but you’ll at least have one light working. On a motorcycle, having your only headlight or taillight out could be much more dangerous.
- Think about taking a motorcycle safety or defensive driving course. Some experienced riders reject this idea because they’ve been riding for years, but it never hurts to brush up on your driving skills, practice defensive driving techniques, or learn about new hazards (like the number of distracted drivers on the road).
Do You Need a Summit County Motorcycle Accident Attorney if You’ve Been Hurt in a Motorcycle Crash?
Dealing with the aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be difficult. You may have suffered severe injuries, leaving you unable to work for weeks or months. Meanwhile, the hospital or doctor’s office still sends you bills, and you’ll probably need follow-up treatment.
The at-fault driver’s car insurance should cover your damages, but in many instances, they deny claims for various reasons.
An experienced Summit County motorcycle accident lawyer can fight the insurance company to get the compensation you need for your damages.
Assuming the insurance company doesn’t deny your claim outright, you should always ask a lawyer to review any offer you receive from the insurance carrier. The reason is that the insurance company’s offer is frequently too low for the injured person’s damages.
Insurance company adjusters know that most people aren’t clear on what their damages are worth. It’s easy to overlook expenses, and if you’re still in treatment, you have no way of knowing what your future medical bills will look like.
Fortunately, your lawyer can help you accurately calculate damages, such as:
- Medical costs. A motorcycle accident – even a seemingly minor one – can result in multiple injuries, especially if you’re ejected from your bike. We frequently see broken bones, traumatic brain injury, internal injuries or bleeding, soft tissue injuries, road rash, and more in these cases. But even good health insurance doesn’t necessarily cover all your treatment. If you’re left with considerable medical bills after a motorcycle accident, we’ll help you seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company.
- Lost income. While you’re having expensive medical treatment, you may be unable to go to work, costing you money. Using paid time off or PTO still counts as a loss because you had to give up that paid time. Some people who work physically strenuous jobs could be out of work for several months or more if they have even a “simple” broken bone, and it’s not uncommon for patients to quickly run out of PTO after a bike crash. You deserve to be compensated for this financial loss as well.
- Lost earning potential. Sometimes motorcyclists suffer a permanent injury that leaves them unable to resume work at all. Or, they may not be able to work as many hours or in the same type of job, forcing them to take a pay cut. If this happens, you can seek damages for your lost earning potential.
- Pain and suffering. Your physical pain can be intense after a motorcycle accident, but you shouldn’t overlook emotional or mental suffering, either. A bike crash can be very traumatic, and many people develop anxiety, depression, or PTSD as a result.
- Property damage. While dealing with medical bills and lost income, you might also be billed for repair or replacement costs for your damaged bike.
- Wrongful death. If a loved one died in a motorcycle accident, we could file a wrongful death claim seeking multiple damages, including loss of financial support, loss of consortium or companionship, funeral and burial expenses, and more.
Why Was My Insurance Claim Denied?
Usually, the denial letter will list a vague reason but may not go into details, leaving the recipient confused. The best thing you can do is bring this letter to your Summit County motorcycle accident lawyer, who may have a better idea of the most likely reason.
Your attorney can also contact the insurance company for more information and help you refute their claims. Here are some common reasons for claim denials:
The Other Driver Says It Was All Your Fault
This one can be very frustrating.
Most motorcyclists understand the risks of riding and take every precaution to ride safely, obeying traffic laws and maintaining a safe following distance. As a result, it may come as a shock to hear the other driver is blaming you.
This accusation often happens with motor vehicle accidents, including bike crashes. The insurance company is incentivized to go along with this story because it means they have an excuse to deny your claim.
Additionally, the police report on your accident may be inconclusive. The responding officer is tasked with investigating each accident in a relatively short amount of time, and they will do their best to figure out what happened.
Typically, this involves interviewing the drivers and witnesses and observing the scene, then filling out several sections on the form that ask for the officer’s opinion on what happened and what factors contributed to the accident.
At this point, the officer may be working with limited information.
For these reasons, we will carefully review the police report with you. If anything sounds incorrect, we will investigate further, seeking evidence of the other driver’s culpability.
Our investigative team will survey the crash site and may also examine your bike for evidence of what happened. We’ll canvas the area, looking for additional witnesses who may have left the scene before the police arrived.
Another possible source of evidence is video – today, it’s sometimes possible to uncover a video of the accident from a doorbell, security, or traffic camera. (But please call us quickly after the accident because these videos are usually deleted on a regular basis.)
The Insurance Company Thinks It Was Mostly or Partly Your Fault
Colorado uses modified comparative negligence statutes in personal injury cases like motorcycle accidents. Modified comparative negligence means that the liable party is the one who was “mostly responsible” (by more than 50 percent) for an accident or injury.
This system provides a framework for handling the many cases where both parties made mistakes that added to the accident.
As a result, the insurance company may have grounds to deny your claim even if their client admitted to causing the accident. For instance, they could argue that, yes, their client pulled out in front of you, but they didn’t see you because you didn’t have your lights on in cloudy weather.
Or, they could say you were speeding, which prevented you from stopping in time or made the accident – and your injuries – more severe.
Whether or not they can prove you were mostly at fault isn’t a problem for the insurance company. Although they will be liable for the claim if you can prove the other driver was mostly at fault, they might still save money by showing you had some responsibility.
Under modified comparative negligence, the lesser responsible party (less than 50 percent) can collect damages from the more responsible party – but those damages will be reduced by the lesser-responsible party’s percentage of fault.
So if the insurance company can make a case that you were even 10 or 20 percent at fault, they can at least reduce their expenses – and you’ll lose some of the money you need for your recovery.
Your attorney will work hard to refute claims that you were all or even partly at fault. Even if you did make mistakes, we might be able to show that these didn’t actually contribute to the crash.
If they did, we would present evidence that your contribution to the accident was minor, so we can preserve as much of your damages as possible.
How Can I Get Help From a Summit County Motorcycle Accident Law Firm?
If you have questions or concerns about your motorcycle accident case, please contact the Olson Law Firm for a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll be happy to review the details of your accident, answer questions, and lay out your options for seeking compensation.
Call us today at (303) 586-7297.