Motorcycle Accident Attorneys in Denver Helping You Get the Compensation You Need
Motorcycle accidents can be some of the most serious motor vehicle accidents that occur. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that motorcycle riders are 29 times more likely to die in an accident on the road, and 4 times more likely to be injured than those driving cars or trucks. Being injured in a motorcycle accident can cause serious injuries that result in astronomical medical bills, inability to work, and mental and emotional trauma such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Unfortunately, other drivers are not as aware of motorcycles as they should be, and accidents often occur. Colorado has recorded motor vehicle crash deaths, including 17% that are motorcycle-related, although motorcycles make up only 3% of all registered vehicles in the United States. If you or a loved one has been in a motorcycle crash and someone else was at fault, you may be eligible for monetary compensation to help you recover and get your life back on track.
Call Greer Law Group at our Denver office today at 303-331-6460 to speak to a motorcycle attorney and explore your options.
What Kinds of Damages Can I Seek in My Motorcycle Accident Case?
If another party was at fault in your motorcycle crash, whether a driver on the road, a manufacturer of a defective part, or anyone else whose negligence resulted in your injury, you may be entitled to seek monetary damages to compensate you. Damages are generally divided into two categories: economic (sometimes called pecuniary) damages and non-economic (non-pecuniary) damages.
Your direct costs that result from your injuries sustained in the accident are what make up economic damages. These include such things as medical bills, lost wages, and non-medical costs such as mileage to get to and from doctor’s appointments. There is no limit on the amount of economic damages you can be awarded in Colorado. These are tangible losses that are easily proven by receipts and pay stubs.
Non-economic losses are made up of the intangible losses that have resulted from your motorcycle accident injuries. Mental or emotional suffering that has resulted from the trauma of the accident, physical pain, and the loss of activities that you used to enjoy are the types of damages that are defined as non-economic. Scarring and disfigurement, loss of limbs, or loss of relationships would also be considered non-economic losses. These kinds of losses are more difficult to prove, but our skilled motorcycle accident attorneys at Greer Law Group have the knowledge and experience needed to make your case.
In some cases of extreme negligence on the part of another person or entity, punitive damages may also be sought.
What is the Difference Between “Contributory Fault” and “Comparative Fault” and How Does That Apply to My Colorado Motorcycle Accident Case?
Many states employ a “contributory fault” model when determining how much compensation a plaintiff may seek in a personal injury case such as one stemming from a motorcycle accident. Contributory fault generally means that if the plaintiff bears any fault in their accident whatsoever, even 1%, they cannot recover any damages.
In a “comparative fault” model employed by other states, the plaintiff can receive damages, but the amount is reduced by the percentage of liability they have been found to carry. For example, in a comparative fault state, a plaintiff found to be 10% liable for their own accident would only receive 90% of the full damage award. In “pure” comparative fault states, there is no limit on the amount of liability a plaintiff can carry and still receive damages. A plaintiff in one of these pure comparative fault states could be found to be 99% responsible for their accident and still be eligible to receive 1% of the total damage award.
So which model does Colorado use? The answer is neither, or more accurately, a combination of the two. Colorado employs what is known as “modified comparative fault” in determining the amount of damages a plaintiff can receive if they are found partially liable for their own injuries. As in pure comparative fault states, Colorado plaintiffs will have their damage award reduced by the percentage of their liability. What makes Colorado’s comparative fault “modified,” however, is that if the plaintiff is found to be 50% or more liable for their own injuries, they cannot receive any compensation at all.
Is There a Limit on the Amount I Can Seek in Compensation for my Motorcycle Accident in Colorado?
Personal injury cases, including motorcycle accident injury cases, have two types of damages that may be awarded: economic (also called pecuniary) damages and non-economic (non-pecuniary) damages. Each is made up of compensation for different kinds of losses.
Economic damages may be awarded in compensation for tangible costs of your injuries. These include things like medical bills, lost wages, and other costs specifically related to your injuries, such as travel and lodging required for out-of-town medical appointments. There is no limit on the economic damages you can recover in a motorcycle accident case. The court recognizes that these are definite expenses you have incurred, easily verified by receipts and pay stubs.
Non-economic damages, however, are less easy to define and prove. These include intangible suffering and losses your accident has caused. This kind of compensation is often referred to as compensation for “pain and suffering,” but what does that really mean? It means anything that you have lost or suffered from as a direct result of your injury. Non-economic damages can include physical pain and mental and emotional distress. Also included can be things like the inability to perform hobbies or recreational activities that you enjoyed before the accident or changes in family or other relationships that occur as a result of your injuries. Colorado law does limit the amount that can be awarded for non-economic damages. The current limit on non-economic damages in personal injury cases, including motorcycle accident cases in Colorado, is $613,760 for incidents that occur on or after January 1, 2020, and before January 1, 2022. For accidents that happen on and after January 1, 2022, and before January 1, 2024, the cap is $642,180.
In certain cases, however, the judge can increase the caps. The Colorado Secretary of State publishes a Certificate with all of the current damage caps, which is generally updated every two years. Check that certificate to see the limits that apply at the time of your claim.
In some cases of extreme negligence on the part of the defendant, punitive damages, called exemplary damages in Colorado, may be awarded. These damages are intended to punish the grossly negligent party or parties and to serve as a deterrent to others who might act in similar ways. Colorado limits the amount of punitive damages to an amount equal to the other damages awarded. For example, if a plaintiff is awarded $10,000 in economic and non-economic damages combined, they cannot be awarded more than $10,000 in punitive damages in addition, if applicable.
What Are the Most Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries?
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics for 2019, motorcycle accidents were 17 times more likely to result in injury than death, leaving those motorcyclists to deal with the consequences of serious injury such as inability to work, permanent disfigurement, and restricted mobility in the aftermath of their accidents.
These are the most common motorcycle accident injuries, according to the CDC:
- Injuries of the lower extremities (legs and feet): These injuries make up 30% of the total accidents included in the study. In a motorcycle crash, the bike often rolls over on the rider’s leg, which can cause bone breaks, crush injuries, and soft tissue damage. If the bike tips and skids, severe abrasions (road rash) and burns can occur, as well. These injuries can seriously impact mobility and may impair the ability to stand or walk.
- Head and Neck Injuries: Head and neck injuries were present in 22% of the non-fatal motorcycle crashes with injury studied by the CDC. Traumatic brain injury can result in loss of muscle control, impaired cognitive ability, and even personality changes, among other effects.
- Chest, Back, and Shoulder Injuries: These injuries, collectively, were third on the list of most common non-fatal motorcycle accident injuries in the CDC study, and included such injuries as broken ribs, punctured lungs, and other blunt-force injuries to the chest, as well as rotator cuff tears, collar bone breaks, and nerve damage. Back injuries can range from soft-tissue injuries such as sprains and bruising to vertebral damage and spinal cord injury that could lead to paralysis.
- Injuries of Arms, Hands, Pelvis, and Hips: While injuries to the lower trunk (pelvis and hips) and arms and hands are least common, these injuries can lead to major disability when they happen. Injuries to the pelvis and hips can impede walking and standing, and arm and hand injuries can lead to impaired dexterity or decreased ability to grip, lift, or carry things. Any of these can seriously impact the ability to work or carry on daily activities.
Is There a Time Limit on When I Can File My Motorcycle Accident Claim?
For personal injury cases in Colorado, the statute of limitations is two years, but for motor vehicle accidents, like motorcycle accident claims, Colorado has a statute of limitations, or time limit, of three years from the date of the accident. This does not mean that your case must be resolved within three years, only that it must begin within three years of your accident. One exception might be if injuries did not become apparent until some time after the accident occurred. In that case, the clock starts at the time that the injuries were discovered and diagnosed.
If the motorcycle accident resulted in the rider’s death, the wrongful death claim is subject to the same three-year time limit, but the three years are counted from the time of the victim’s death, which may or may not be the same time as the accident occurred. The limit may also be extended if the responsible party left the scene of the accident.
How Can A Motorcycle Accident Attorney Help in My Case?
You need time to rest and recover from the injuries you suffered in your motorcycle accident. At the same time, you must get started with your claim before the statute of limitations runs out. Hiring an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can take the burden of the legal fight off of your shoulders and give you time and space to heal after your accident. A skilled lawyer can do all of the investigation, legal paperwork, and arguing that needs to be done in your case, freeing you of added stress and giving you the peace of mind of knowing that you have professional representation on your side. If a fair settlement can be negotiated out of court, your motorcycle accident attorney will conduct that negotiation. If not, your lawyer will represent you in court and make sure that you have the best chance at a good outcome.
It’s a scary prospect to go up against a big insurance company with aggressive lawyers out to deny you compensation, as is often the case in a motorcycle accident claim, and you are at a severe disadvantage if you don’t have an experienced and tenacious motorcycle accident attorney fighting for you. Our motorcycle accident lawyers understand how hard it is to overcome serious injuries and get on with your life, as well as how important adequate financial compensation can be in that process. We are here to stand by you and give you the best chance at getting fair compensation for the injuries that were caused by someone else’s negligence or carelessness. We care, and we will bring every bit of our experience and knowledge to getting you the compensation you need and deserve after your motorcycle accident. The personal injury attorneys at Greer Law Group have the right combination of caring and determination to stand by your side and fight for what’s fair. You don’t have to do it alone. Our skilled motorcycle accident attorneys are here to help. 303-331-6460