Experienced Fort Collins Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Motorcycle Accident Attorney in Larimer County
Riding a motorcycle comes with great peril as the protection is not there like in a car or truck. I can certainly sympathize with motorcyclists. I grew up around motorcycles as my uncle owned a motorcycle shop in Houston. He taught me how to ride from age 7 and entered me in numerous motocross events.
Riding a motorcycle comes with great peril as the protection is not there like in a car or truck.In Colorado, motorcycle accidents or crashes account for 20% of all traffic related fatalities. Yet, motorcycles only make up about 3% of vehicles on the road. That is a very high fatality rate! Motorcyclists should be extra, extra careful on our roads as death is a much higher risk for motorcyclists than other forms of transportation.
CDOT explains that a lot of motorcycle accidents occur because of excessive speed, riding aggressively and riding impaired (whether from alcohol or drugs, even prescription drugs). In fact, CDOT runs a motorcycle operator safety training program in 16 counties throughout Colorado. If you are interested in saving your life or avoiding serious injuries, you should take this safety course or any other safety course that is properly certified. 101 motorcyclists died in Colorado in the year 2017.
Advice on safe motorcycle riding:
1. Wear a helmet.
Even though Colorado does not require helmets to be worn by motorcyclists, most of us already know that wearing a helmet can save your life. Some people do not like the distraction of wearing a helmet, or it is “not cool” or maybe a helmet makes your head too hot. But, these are all lame excuses when your life is on the line. Studies show that helmets prevent brain damage or at least lessen the extent of injury to one’s head and brain.
2. Turn headlights on all the time.
Turning your headlights on makes you more visible. We have all been on the road driving when we don’t see a motorcycle and change lanes only to find out that there is a motorcycle in the other lane. Some drivers, especially elderly drivers, just cannot see a motorcycle in their field of vision or in the rear view mirror. So, turning headlights on, even during the day, will make you more visible and protect your life.
3. Wear bright colors.
If a motorcyclist wears dark or neutral colors, he or she will not easily be seen. However, if a motorcyclist wears bright colors, then drivers will be more able to see the motorcyclist and thus avoid an accident. Some motorcyclists even wear yellow vests which really stand out and increase visibility. Similarly, you see a lot of bicyclists wearing bright helmets and bright cycling clothing which helps prevent them from being run over by a vehicle.
4. Dress for the ride.
It is best to wear specific motorcycle safety clothing. What I mean by this is that motorcycle stores will sell jackets with padding or hard plates inside. You will find special shoes or boots that protect your feet and legs. You should also wear long pants as that can be helpful if you are skidding across the pavement. Please take advantage of all the protective clothing that is being manufactured today. It can definitely lessen the extent of injuries in a crash.
5. No zooming in and out of traffic.
Motorcyclists tend to change lanes a lot and accelerate to openings in traffic. Motorcycles have more power than most cars and that power can get you in trouble. Try to stay in your lane and not make a bunch of lane changes. Motorcycles are more susceptible to being in the “blind spot” so staying in the middle of the lane will help you be more readily seen by motorists.
6. Keep a larger buffer.
Motorcycles can stop much quicker than automobiles and trucks. Therefore, it is safer to keep a larger distance or buffer from other vehicles. For example, if a motorcyclist suddenly stops quickly at say a yellow light, the driver directly behind may not be able to stop fast enough to avoid a rear end collision. Drivers also need to keep this in mind and to leave a larger gap open when following a motorcyclist.
7. Look twice and save a life.
We have all heard this slogan being advertised on television or radio. This phrase is frequently used by motorcycle safety advocates. What this means to motorists is that one should be actively looking around for smaller profile vehicles like motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Motorcycles can be very hard to see and a car or truck’s blind spot can keep you from seeing the motorcyclist. You may not see a motorcycle on the first look, but may see it on the second look. Thus, the whole idea of looking around and being observant can save lives.
8. Stay calm and share the road.
Motorists can be somewhat possessive about “their roads”. Motorists may get angry and suffer from road rage when cut of by a motorcycle. It’s a road so please share it with motorcycles, bicycles, joggers, etc. Just relax and stay calm so that you do not participate in the road rage trend. Nowadays, everyone is stressed, trying to get somewhere fast and frequently running late for meetings, work or school. The best advice is to chill and practice relaxation techniques in order to remain calm and drive safely.
9. Maintain your motorcycle.
It goes without saying that a well maintained motorcycle is safer than an improperly maintained motorcycle. Maintenance is very important, especially when it comes to tire life and tire pressure. For example, it is always a good idea to check the tire pressure before you ride. Even checking the tires for nails or other such objects is a great practice before and after each ride. It is also a good idea to frequently check the oil and other fluids so that does not contribute to a future accident.
10. Drive defensively.
When driving a motorcycle, it is even more important to drive defensively. According to good ole Wikipedia:
“The standard Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations, ANSI/ASSE Z15.1, defines defensive driving skills as “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others. This definition is taken from the National Safety Council’s Defensive Driving Course. It is a form of training for motor vehicle drivers that goes beyond mastery of the rules of the road and the basic mechanics of driving. Its aim is to reduce the risk of collision by anticipating dangerous situations, despite adverse conditions or the mistakes of others. This can be achieved through adherence to a variety of general guidelines, such as following the assured clear distance ahead and two second rules, as well as the practice of specific driving techniques. Some motorists describe defensive driving as “driving as if everyone else on the road were drunk.”
Bottom line is to always drive defensively. It may save your life someday. A great idea for every motorcyclist is to take a defensive driving course that is specific to motorcycles. This may cost some money but it is money well spent and can educate you to the proper defensive driving techniques.
11. Avoid fatigue.
Especially with regard to motorcyclists, it is easier to become fatigued as you do not have the same comfort level as you find with cars. Cars are made to be very comfortable with custom seats and lack of road noise. Driving a motorcycle takes a greater degree of strength and finesse. It can be quite tiring to constantly feel the vibration and bumps in the roadway. Heat can also be a factor as motorcycles can produce a lot of heat and the weather can readily contribute to heat fatigue. Just driving while fixated on the road, eye fatigue and hand/arm weaknesses can all contribute to tiredness and fatigue. It is best to take breaks from your ride in order to remain fresh throughout your ride.
WHAT LAWS ARE SPECIFIC TO MOTORCYCLISTS IN THE STATE OF COLORADO?
Motorcyclists must basically adhere to the same laws as other vehicles. In addition:
To add a motorcycle endorsement to your regular driver’s license in Colorado, you first must have a valid Colorado driver’s license. Two types of endorsements are available:
- The “M” motorcycle endorsement, under which a motorcyclist can drive both two- and three-wheel motorcycles.
- The “3” endorsement (for operating only three-wheel motorcycles)
You can get an endorsement by one of the following methods:
- By passing the motorcycle written exam, purchasing a motorcycle instruction permit, scheduling and passing a motorcycle driving skills test and purchasing a new driver’s license in which to add a motorcycle endorsement.
- By completing a Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) course, by presenting the original license waiver card to a Colorado driver’s license office, and obtaining a new driver’s license in which you will add a motorcycle endorsement.
Colorado accepts motorcycle endorsements from other states as well, but will require you to visit a state driver’s license office in order to add a motorcycle endorsement to your driver’s license. Remember that endorsements cannot be added by mail, online, or by phone. It must be done in person.
Minors under the age of 18 are required to purchase and maintain a motorcycle instruction permit for 1 year before they are allowed to add a motorcycle endorsement to their Colorado driver’s license. Minors who are under the age of 16 must be under the express supervision of a Motorcycle Operator Safety Training instructor at all times during the operation of a motorcycle.Rules of the Road for Motorcyclists: Passing a vehicle in the same lane is not legal in Colorado. Motorcycles can share a lane with one other motorcycle, but a motorcycle cannot be towed by another vehicle. The State of Colorado has no limitations regarding the age of a passenger, helmet speakers, turn signals or handlebars.
In Colorado, no person may drive a motorcycle between two lanes of traffic. Riding two abreast in a single lane is permissible in Colorado. However, motorcyclists should ride offset, not directly parallel to each other. That way, they will be the most visible to other vehicles.
Passengers: Motorcycles in Colorado are required to have footrests for passengers and passengers must always use those footrests. Passengers must ride on the seat behind the driver or on the side in a sidecar attachment, and are not allowed to ride in front of the driver. In some countries, you will see 4 people riding on one motorcycle. This is very unsafe and most of these type of countries consist of poor people who do not have much of a choice in transportation. They must find the cheapest way possible to get from point A to point B.
The right equipment: As most of us already know, adult motorcycle drivers and passengers are not required to wear helmets in the state of Colorado. However, those drivers or passengers under the age of 18 are required to wear helmets that meet or exceed the standards established by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
What are the likely causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
Here are some of the more common ways that motorcycle accidents happen:
Weather Conditions: Because motorcyclists are open and exposed, they are more likely to experience safety issues while riding in the rain and/or snow. Most of us know that roads are the most slippery when a rainfall has just occurred. When a rain has just happened, the roads can be like ice. Painted lines on the road surface can also be more dangerous when weather issues have occurred. Dry roads are of course much safer as the motorcycle tires have better grip and adhesion. In Colorado, we have to deal with weather related issues like rain, snow, hail and ice. All of these hazards can increase the chance of being involved in an accident.
Excessive Speed: This is a no brainer. The faster you drive, the less reaction time one will have. If a motorcyclist is driving 80 mph down the highway, he or she has less time to react to hazards on the road. It makes perfect sense that lower speeds equal less accidents and more minimal injuries if a crash occurs.
Driving at Night: Night time driving is especially hazardous. Why? When driving at night or closer to night time, a motorcyclist has a much greater risk of crashing due to visibility. We just don’t see as well at night. Thus, slowing down at night is especially important to reducing accidents. Further, it is more likely that you will not see obstacles or debris in the road as your visibility is greatly diminished. It is sometimes advisable to use your high beams in order to make yourself more visible to other motorists. Of course, do not use high beams if you will be blinding an advancing vehicle.
Braking Issues: Since Motorcycles have front and rear brakes, it can sometimes be more confusing when trying to quickly stop. If you push or pull the brakes too hard, you will skid or end up flying over the handlebars. It is a fine line between safely braking and braking into disaster. If you do not brake fast enough, you may crash into an object or vehicle in front. Likewise, braking too hard can cause you to lose control of the motorcycle. Some bikes are quite large and heavy so practicing braking is a great exercise. Nowadays, many motorcycles have sophisticated braking systems, like anti-lock systems that you will find in most cars. It is important to make sure your are thoroughly briefed on your particular motorcycle’s braking systems.
Impaired Driving: As we know, motorcyclists can succumb to the same intoxication issues as vehicles. A rider may drive to a bar and think that he or she can get safely home without being stopped by Police or stopped by impaired coordination and reflexes. A great deal of motorcycle accidents are due to some type of impaired driving (primarily due to alcohol ingestion). Don’t drink and drive is a well known slogan in the US. We can also put texting and driving in there under the impairment category. Motorcyclists text just like car drivers. Admittedly, it is more difficult to handle a cell phone while driving a motorcycle than say a car. Texting has become one of the world’s biggest safety issues as motorists do not want to put down their cell phones, even while engaging in a hazardous activity like driving.
COMMON INJURIES SUFFERED DURING MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS
Here are some of the more common injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash.
- Back and neck injuries
- Road rash
- Traumatic brain injuries or TBI
- Soft-Tissue injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Spinal cord damage
- Loss of arms and legs
- Head injuries (most common in serious collisions)
- Loss of vital organs
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN INVOLVED IN A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT?
Colorado motorcyclists must carry proper insurance just like vehicle drivers. So before you ride, make sure you have these minimum coverages:
- $25,000 per person (bodily injury)
- $50,000 per accident (bodily injury)
- $15,000 per accident (property damage)
- It is illegal in Colorado to leave or flee the scene of an accident.
- Call the police and report the accident so that an accident report is filled out by the police.
- Always seek medical treatment. Go to the local ER or at the very least, a walk in clinic to get checked out. You may not feel injured but your adrenaline is pumping and the pain may kick in later or the next day.
- Call your own insurance company as you have a duty to report any accident to them (or it could be an excuse for your insurance company to deny coverage). Do not talk to the at-fault driver’s insurance company until you have a lawyer who can talk for you or decide whether you should say anything at all to the adverse carrier.
- Never admit fault. Do not sign any papers or enter into any settlements until you have talked to me first. I can get a much higher settlement for you and guide you through the complicated settlement process. I only charge a 28% contingency fee which puts more settlement money in your pocket (most lawyers in Colorado charge 33-45% of the total settlement). I also do not charge for office expenses like copies, postage, faxes and phone calls. Most lawyers will charge you for these type of expenses and will take that money out of your settlement proceeds.
Other practice Areas
- Car Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Drunk Driving Accidents
- Uber, Lyft & Taxi Accidents
If you have been injured due to a Motorcycle Accident, please call me first and I will get you the medical treatment you need as well as the best settlement possible. No recovery, no fee, guaranteed.