Colorado Springs Bicycle Accident Law Firm
Thousands of Colorado residents ride bicycles daily for enjoyment and transportation, and the state’s renowned mild temperature enables residents to ride bicycles practically year-round across most of the state.
No sensible person would argue that riding a bicycle is a healthy, cost-effective, and ecologically friendly mode of transportation. While these facts are true, it is also true that every time bikers go to the road, they put themselves in danger of significant harm.
This is especially true in settings where automobiles and bicycles coexist, as is often the case in places like Colorado Springs.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 48,000 pedal cyclists were injured in 2013. When cyclists are hurt due to a driver’s carelessness, they are often entitled to substantial financial compensation.
As a result, anybody injured in a bicycle accident that they feel was caused by a driver’s carelessness should consult with an experienced Colorado Springs bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible to explore their options.
ESTABLISHING NEGLIGENCE MAY NEED THE GATHERING OF EVIDENCE.
In the great majority of Colorado bicycle accident cases, liability is uncontested, leaving the amount of compensation to be awarded as the principal question to be determined. However, in other instances, responsibility is challenged, requiring the person asserting carelessness to gather proof to support his or her position.
Collecting and assessing evidence of negligence may be time-consuming, which is why victims should employ an attorney experienced in handling bicycle accident claims. The next sections discuss several types of evidence that may be acquired.
Physical evidence may include the automobiles involved in the collision or the safety equipment worn by a biker at the time of the accident. This form of evidence is helpful in establishing the nature and degree of any injuries incurred.
STATEMENTS OF WITNESSES
Statements of witnesses may be used to determine how an accident happened. They may be included in any official record created by law enforcement officials responding to an accident site, or they may be acquired via the use of discovery methods like depositions or interrogatories.
PHOTOGRAPHIC OR VIDEO EVIDENCE
In certain situations, photographic evidence of an accident’s aftermath or security video footage capturing an accident may be used to demonstrate carelessness.
ANALYSES OR OPINIONS OF EXPERT WITNESSES
Certain exceptionally complex bicycle accident situations need contact with an accident reconstruction professional. These witnesses may either testify in a formal deposition or be summoned as a witness at trial.
These sorts of specialists often charge hundreds of dollars per hour, rendering them financially unaffordable to a large number of accident victims. Fortunately, when you employ legal counsel, the firm will cover these upfront charges and any further litigation expenses.
The forms of evidence necessary for your bicycle accident lawsuit may vary according to the facts surrounding your accident. The most efficient method of ensuring that your legal case is as strong as possible is to engage an expert Colorado Springs bicycle accident attorney as soon as feasible.
Who Can Sue in the Event of a Bicycle Accident?
CAUSES OF BICYCLE ACCIDENTS
Anyone riding a bicycle who is hurt or whose family member is murdered due to another’s improper action may file a lawsuit, including adults and children (who can bring a lawsuit through a parent or guardian).
Although it is uncommon, Colorado residents who are hurt by bikers may also file a case if they can demonstrate the bicyclist’s fault.
The wounded plaintiff’s spouse may also initiate his or her claim for loss of consortium damages; that is, damages for the injured plaintiff’s loss of society, comfort, and care. Consult this article’s section on Damages.
WHO CAN BE SUED FOR BICYCLE ACCIDENT-RELATED INJURIES OR DEATHS?
DRIVERS OF MOTOR VEHICLES.
Any driver of a motor vehicle whose improper or negligent behavior results in the damage or death of a bicyclist may be sued.
AUTOMOBILE, BICYCLE, HELMET, AND TIRE MANUFACTURERS
Additionally, in cases where a bicyclist is injured or killed as a result of a motor vehicle, bicycle, tire, or bicycle helmet that was designed or manufactured defectively, the bicyclist or his or her survivors may be able to bring a case against the manufacturer, supplier, or seller of the bicycle, tire, bicycle helmet, or any motor vehicle involved in the accident.
Additionally, suppose a plaintiff establishes that the bicycle accident was caused by a bike shop’s negligent maintenance and repair. In that case, the plaintiff may have a cause of action against the bike shop that performed the repairs.
HAZARDOUS STATE OF PUBLIC PROPERTY
In Colorado, cases involving bicycle accidents caused by a hazardous condition on public property, such as a highway or the absence of a bicycle lane, are covered under public entity liability law.
Public bodies may be held accountable for unsafe situations if no immunities exist and the plaintiff establishes that the dangerous condition had a significant role in causing the accident.
PERILOUS STATE OF PRIVATE PROPERTY
Bicyclists who are harmed due to negligent property upkeep or a hazardous condition on private land are protected under Colorado’s premises liability statute. In general, the legislation provides for monetary compensation against public property owners if the plaintiff can establish that the unsafe state led to the accident.
BICYCLISTS’ RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
According to the Colorado Vehicle Code, any biker traveling on the street or highway has the same rights and obligations as a motor vehicle driver.
Thus, when examining bicycle accident cases, a biker is often viewed as a motor vehicle driver rather than a pedestrian. This may be different if the cyclist is strolling rather than riding or if the cyclist is on private land.
BICYCLIST-SPECIFIC SECTIONS OF THE VEHICLE CODE.
Certain laws impose additional responsibilities on bikers.
Although many Colorado residents are unaware, many portions of the Colorado Vehicle Code relate specifically to bikers. Because no one is required to pass a DMV examination to ride a bicycle, most Colorado residents are unaware of the majority of these specific laws and restrictions; yet, they are the law, and ignorance of the law is never an excuse.
LAWS THAT SPECIFICALLY SAFEGUARD BIKERS.
On the other side, there exist regulations that protect bikes in ways that motorists do not.
A MOTOR VEHICLE DRIVER’S VIOLATION OF THE LAW MAY ESTABLISH A PRESUMPTION OF CARELESSNESS.
When legislation meant to protect bicycles is broken, it may establish a presumption of carelessness on the part of a motor vehicle driver.
A BICYCLIST’S VIOLATION OF THE LAW MAY RESULT IN A PRESUMPTION OF COMPARATIVE CARELESSNESS.
Suppose a bicycle breaches a Vehicle Code provision. In that case, the violation may create a presumption of comparative negligence in favor of the bicyclist, resulting in a reduction of any judgment in his or her favor by the proportion of the biker’s responsibility.
For example, if a biker breaches legislation and is determined to be 50% responsible for an accident, the reward may be lowered to 50%. For example, a $1 million judgment may be reduced to $500,000.
ILLUSTRATIVE STATUTES THAT APPLY TO BICYCLE ACCIDENT INSTANCES.
The following is a review of some of the most significant rules that apply when a bike collides with a motor vehicle driver:
- Driving when impaired by alcohol or drugs.
The same regulations that apply to drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs also apply to bikers, including the suspension of driving privileges.
- Requirements for equipment.
Bicycles must have the following features: • brakes; • handlebars that do not require the bicyclist to raise her hands above her shoulders to grasp them; • a bar or seat low enough to allow bicyclists to support the bike in an upright position with at least one foot on the ground; • if the bicycle is operated on a road at night, it must have the following features: • a lamp emitting a white light that illuminates the highway in front of it while the bicycle is
SPECIAL REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLE SELLERS.
A bicycle vendor must not sell or offer a reflex reflector or reflectorized tire of the kind needed on a bicycle unless it complies with the DMV criteria.
Additionally, all new bicycles must have a red reflector on the rear, a white or yellow reflector on each pedal visible from the front and back of the bicycle, a white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the bicycle’s center, and a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the bicycle’s center, except for bicycles with reflectorized tires on the front and back.
UNLESS TRAVELING AT THE REGULAR PACE OF TRAFFIC, A BIKER SHALL RIDE AS NEAR TO THE RIGHT-HAND CURB AS POSSIBLE.
Any person riding a bicycle on a roadway at a slower speed than the average speed of traffic traveling in the same direction shall ride as close to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway as possible, except when overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle traveling in the same direction.
- when preparing to make a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
BICYCLE SEATING FOR RIDERS.
According to the Vehicle Code, each person riding a bicycle must have a seat, and any passenger four years old or younger or weighing less than 40 pounds must have proper protection from falling off the bicycle or from the bicycle’s moving components.
SEPARATED BICYCLE LANES.
When a bicycle lane is constructed, anybody riding a bicycle at a slower pace than the typical speed of traffic traveling in the same direction must remain inside the bicycle lane unless they are overtaking and passing another bicycle, vehicle, or pedestrian within the lane.
- while approaching a crossroads or entering a private road or driveway.
- when leaving the bicycle lane is reasonably required to avoid debris or other dangerous situations.
- while approaching a location that permits a right turn.
Additionally, even when one of the exceptions above applies, a biker must not exit a bicycle lane until the movement can be conducted safely and only after providing an appropriate signal.
While bikers are obliged to ride in bicycle lanes, save in restricted circumstances, while in the lane, they have special protection from motor vehicles under the law.
According to the Vehicle Code, no motor vehicle operator is authorized to ride in a bicycle lane except to:
- park in designated parking areas; or • enter or exit the highway.
- to make a turn inside 200 feet of the junction.
HELMETS FOR BICYCLES.
Anyone under 18 is not permitted to pedal a bicycle or ride as a passenger on a street, bikeway, or other public cycling route or trail unless they are wearing a helmet.
BICYCLISTS MUST NOT TRAVEL IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF TRAFFIC.
When riding a bicycle on a highway or the shoulder of a roadway, it must go in the same direction as automobiles on that route.
Use of hand signals.
Bicyclists are expected to use hand signals while turning or changing lanes. To turn left, the hand and arm must be extended horizontally; to turn right; the arm must be grown vertically, except that the biker may extend the right hand and arm horizontally to the right side of the bicycle.
WHEN A MOTOR VEHICLE DRIVER IS FOUND NEGLIGENT IN A CASE INVOLVING A BICYCLE ACCIDENT.
To begin, when analyzing bicycle accident cases, it is essential to keep in mind that, except the special Vehicle Code sections mentioned previously and other additional Vehicle Code sections applicable to bicycles, a bicyclist has the same obligations as a motor vehicle driver in terms of stopping, turning, yielding the right of way, and traveling at a safe speed.
The general law of negligence continues to apply to vehicle/bicycle collisions; that is, regardless of any Code violation, the driver of a motor vehicle owes a duty of ordinary care to a bicyclist and will be found negligent if he or she fails to act as a reasonable person would in similar circumstances.
BICYCLE ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION.
A COPY OF THE POLICE REPORT.
Hopefully, in every bicycle accident involving significant injury or death, the police will be summoned to perform an investigation and create a police report. The police report is a public record and may be accessed within a reasonable period after it is finished by the plaintiff, plaintiff’s counsel, or investigators.
Although the police report cannot be introduced into evidence during the trial (it may be introduced into evidence in most arbitrations), the investigating officers’ conclusions can be extracted via the officer’s testimony at trial and used by the expert witnesses in the case.
Thus, in a bicycle accident lawsuit, the plaintiff should always acquire a police record.
THE PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY CONDUCTS AN INVESTIGATION.
Whether or not a police record is filed, a plaintiff’s attorney should inspect the accident site, either personally or via an investigator. Generally, it is beneficial for the plaintiff to be present throughout the inquiry if feasible.
The sooner an accident site can be studied, the better; nevertheless, even sometimes after an accident, relevant evidence such as skid markings, car debris, road ruts, and scrape marks may be collected at the scene.
Additionally, the accident scene’s condition may give important information for the case, such as the presence of signs, lighting, and other circumstances that may lead to an accident. Photographs and, in relevant situations, videotapes should always be taken recording the scene’s state as near to the time of the accident as feasible.
KEEPING THE BICYCLE AND HELMET IN GOOD CONDITION.
To maintain the plaintiff’s helmet, it is vital to retain the bicycle in the precise state in which it came to rest at the time of the accident and in situations involving head injuries, traumatic brain damage, or wrongful death. Failure to do so may jeopardize a plaintiff’s case significantly.
OBTAINING WITNESS STATEMENTS.
Witnesses of a bicycle accident have the potential to make or destroy a case. Generally, if the possible testimony is favorable, the plaintiff will send an investigator to talk with witnesses and acquire written statements. It is sometimes beneficial for the investigator to reintroduce the witness to ascertain distances and other accident elements.
INVESTIGATING TO IDENTIFY POTENTIAL DEFENDANTS OTHER THAN THE MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATOR.
In a bicycle accident case involving serious injury or death, where the motor vehicle driver that collided with the bicycle may lack sufficient insurance to cover the plaintiff’s damages, consideration should be given to determining whether anyone other than the motor vehicle driver was at fault for the injury.
Thus, the police report should be reviewed, the accident site investigated, and witness statements obtained to determine if there were any additional potential defendants, such as Colorado residents who illegally parked their cars and obstructed the view of the bicycle or motor vehicle driver; a public entity for failing to provide a safe roadway or adequate lighting; and a manufacturer, seller, or repairer of the bicycle if there was evidence of product failure.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RETAINING BICYCLE EXPERTS WHO ARE PARTICULARLY WELL-VERSED IN BICYCLE CASES
In every significant injury or death case involving a bicycle, bicycle specialists should be hired.
In any lawsuit involving significant damage or wrongful death caused by a bicycle accident, the plaintiff should employ specialized expertise in bicycle accidents.
WHO SPECIALIZES IN THE ANALYSIS OF BICYCLE ACCIDENTS.
II. RECONSTRUCTION EXPERTS.
While most accident reconstruction specialists and mechanical engineers are equipped to evaluate bicycle accidents, it is advantageous for the plaintiff to employ someone with specialized knowledge in the field.
III. ENGINEERS IN BIOMEDICAL AND BIOMECHANICAL FIELDS.
Additionally, in a lawsuit involving a possibly faulty helmet, the plaintiff will need to employ a helmet expert and a biomechanical or biomedical engineer to demonstrate a causal link between the defective helmet and the bicyclist’s brain injury or death. Because helmets are not intended to prevent all types of head injuries, expert evidence will be necessary to demonstrate that a helmet was faulty.
ADDITIONAL PROSPECTIVE EXPERTS
Other sorts of specialists may also be beneficial in situations involving bicycle accidents. These professionals include safety experts, human factors experts (who examine the behavior of those involved in a crash), material experts, roadway design experts, and traffic engineers.
EXPERTS IN PHOTOGRAMMETRY.
Additionally, serious bicycle accident cases lend themselves well to photographic, video, or film recreations of the accident. A photography/film expert collaborates with an accident reconstruction expert to film a recreation of the accident or create a computer simulation to assist a jury in determining liability.
THE PLAINTIFF’S COUNSEL MUST BE READY TO ADVANCE EXPERT WITNESS FEES.
The plaintiff attorney must advance the fees required to employ all specialists essential to win the case in a significant bicycle injury or death case. This may not be necessary in certain straightforward liability cases, but, in complicated situations, the plaintiff counsel may have to advance tens of thousands of dollars or more to a variety of different experts.
FAULT ANALYSIS OF A BICYCLIST AND A MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATOR.
THE VEHICLE CODE AND NEGLIGENCE LAW PROVIDE SIMPLY A FRAMEWORK FOR GUILT, NOT AN ABSOLUTE STANDARD OF BLAME.
As previously stated, negligence is used to assess responsibility in a bicycle accident case, infractions of the Vehicle Code by either the biker or the motor vehicle operator creating “presumptions” of carelessness.
PARTIES’ AND WITNESSES’ TESTIMONY.
The testimony of the biker and the motor vehicle operator and any eyewitnesses and the investigating police officer will undoubtedly be critical in fault analysis.
THE “PHYSICAL EVIDENCE” WILL BE THE FOCUS OF EXPERTS IN CONTESTED LIABILITY INSTANCES.
To a certain degree, experts will depend on the testimony of accident participants and bystanders; nevertheless, their immediate attention will be on the physical evidence available, such as:
- damage to the bicycle. ‘
- kind of injuries sustained by the biker.
- physical harm to the motor vehicle.
- road skid markings
- road scrapes.
- potholes in the road.
- the bicycle’s, bicyclist’s, and motor vehicle’s place of rest; and the bicyclist’s, bicycle’s, and motor vehicle’s point of collision.
This determination will be made based on the end of the rest of the bicycle, bicyclist, and motor vehicle, as well as any other physical evidence indicating the location of the impact, such as debris from the bicycle or motor vehicle, the termination of skid marks, scuffs, and scrape marks; pieces of the bicyclist’s clothing left on the roadway, and blood left on the road by the bicyclist.
UNIQUE ASPECTS OF EXPERT TESTIMONY IN BICYCLE ACCIDENT CASE ANALYSIS
EXAMINATION OF THE BICYCLE’S COMPONENT COMPONENTS FOR PROBABLE FAILURE.
To begin, a bicycle specialist can evaluate the probability that a component failure contributed to the bicycle accident. This might result in a product liability lawsuit against the bicycle manufacturer, seller, or component maker. Consider the following:
- frame failure.
- wheel component failure.
- failure of the front fender.
- failure of the seat;
- failure of the front derailleur;
- failure of the rear derailleur.
The discovery of such a failure may result in prospective litigation against the goods maker and the bicycle repair shop where the plaintiff had his bicycle fixed.
EXAMINATION OF BICYCLE HELMETS IN SITUATIONS INVOLVING HEAD INJURIES, TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES, AND WRONGFUL DEATH.
Additionally, an expert might be recruited to assess the bicycle helmet’s faulty design or failure. The following considerations should be considered:
- the bike helmet’s capacity to absorb impact.
- whether the sort of harm sustained by the plaintiff might have been avoided with an adequate helmet.
CASE STUDIES OF POTENTIALLY UNSAFE ROADWAYS, BICYCLE PATHS, OR POTENTIALLY DAMAGED ROADWAYS.
Additionally, a cycling specialist may want to investigate the effect of the highway and bike route design on the accident. This may explain how an accident occurred and pave the way for a prospective hazardous condition lawsuit against a government organization or a private possessor or owner of the property. The cycling expert should consider the following:
- bicycle path design;
- bicycle path construction;
- bicycle path maintenance;
- roadway construction; roadway maintenance; and
- roadway design.
FACTORS TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT BY AN EXPERT IN BICYCLE ACCIDENT RECONSTRUCTION.
A bicycle specialist can also assess several other critical accident elements, including:
- the force applied to the biker upon collision; and • the speed of the bicycle and the other vehicle.
- determination of the bicyclist’s perception and response time.
- determining the pace at which a bike descends an incline.
- determinations of trajectory.
- dismantling friction coefficient formulae.
CASES OF ORGANIZED BICYCLE RACE INJURIES AND DEATHS.
THE IMPACT OF WAIVERS THAT HAVE BEEN SIGNED.
Almost all organized bicycle races and triathlons require riders to sign thorough releases before participating. These waivers attempt to absolve the race organizers of obligation for any harm sustained due to anything that may occur during the event.
Despite the reality that the waiver provides little incentive for bicycle race organizers and participants to adhere to safety requirements (save for their safety), courts have increasingly affirmed the waivers’ legality.
ACCEPTANCE OF DANGER.
Additionally, everybody who participates in a bicycle race or triathlon assumes some risk. Assumption of risk might preclude a plaintiff from recovering even though the race organizer was manifestly negligent.
WHILE BICYCLE RACING ACCIDENTS ARE UNCOMMON, THEY ARE NOT IMPOSSIBLE.
Certain elements contribute to the difficulty, but not necessarily the impossibility, of these scenarios. A bicycle race has some inherent dangers for which a release should be valid.
However, there are additional factors such as poorly designed racetracks, an insufficient number of spotters, poor road conditions, and an improper mix of skilled and unskilled riders that all contribute to the risk of an accident and can all be avoided with reasonable foresight on the part of the race organizers.
This may not be sufficient to prove guilt; however, if the plaintiff can demonstrate that they were duped into signing the release form by misrepresentations in the release form, this may establish liability.
Additionally, notwithstanding the release, the plaintiff may pursue a product responsibility claim if the damage or death was caused by the plaintiff’s bicycle or another bicycle that caused the accident or by the plaintiff’s helmet failing.
Additionally, a plaintiff may argue that the release should exclude unexpected dangers such as inadequately maintained open and closed courses, insufficient traffic monitoring on open and closed courses, and insufficient crowd control where the candidates are assured crowd control.
COMPENSATORY DAMAGES IN CASES OF BICYCLE COLLISIONS
In a bicycle accident lawsuit, the plaintiff may be compensated for past medical expenditures; future anticipated medical expenses, past pay loss, future wage loss, and past and future pain and suffering.
Medical expenditures are established based on doctors’ or other health care professionals’ testimony. An economist or business expert often calculates the amount of future pay loss; nevertheless, no expert can attest to the worth of pain and suffering.
Contrary to common assumption, there is no formula for calculating pain and suffering awards; they vary significantly from case to case based on the location of the case, the severity of the injury, and how effectively the case is presented.
HOW SOON MUST A BICYCLE ACCIDENT CASE BE FILED?
Although there are few exceptions, a case for severe personal injury must be filed in Colorado within one year of the date of the accident/incident. In exceptional circumstances, that timeframe may be extended to one year from the date of discovery of wrongdoing and harm.
However, use caution. If the claim is against a government organization, it must be filed within six months after the accident date. Except in circumstances of medical malpractice or against governmental institutions, children have until their nineteenth birthday to file a lawsuit.
CLAIM FOR CONSORTIUM LOSS.
Additionally, a plaintiff’s spouse may seek ‘loss of consortium damages. A spouse is entitled to seek damages for the loss of society, comfort, and care caused by the injured spouse’s inability to care for the plaintiff as a consequence of their injury.
A spouse must be identified as a party to the action and must have been married to the plaintiff at the time of the accident to claim these damages.
There are several benefits and drawbacks to bringing a claim for loss of consortium that should be examined with an attorney before filing.
INFLICTION OF PUNITIVE DAMAGES.
Under Colorado law, a plaintiff may seek punitive damages if the offender’s behavior was fraudulent, malicious, or disgusting. Punitive penalties are designed to punish the wrongdoer and serve as a deterrent to the rest of society.
The emphasis in this sort of litigation is often on the defendant’s misbehavior rather than the plaintiff’s harm. Punitive damages will vary in amount based on the heinousness of the defendant’s wrongdoing and its economic condition.
The law understands that huge corporation must pay more in punitive damages to be effectively punished compared to small businesses or individuals. Punitive damages are routinely given in motor vehicle trials involving intoxicated drivers.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN EVALUATING SETTLEMENT CASES
NUMEROUS ELEMENTS ARE CONSIDERED WHILE CONSIDERING SETTLEMENTS.
Numerous criteria are considered while examining a case for settlement. The widespread belief among the public that a lawsuit is settled for three times the amount of medical bills and lost wages is demonstrably false.
Some instances settle for millions of dollars with no medical expenses or lost wages, and those that settle for a few thousand dollars with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages. The following are some of the important criteria to consider when considering a case for settlement purposes:
LIABILITY (I.E., BLAME) IS A SIGNIFICANT SETTLEMENT ISSUE IN EVERY DISPUTE.
In cases where culpability is uncertain or the plaintiff has a large risk of losing, the case’s settlement value must be considerably decreased to account for the plaintiff’s risk of losing.
In theory, if an injury claim is worth $100,000 but the plaintiff has a 50% probability of winning, a $50,000 settlement may be fair. However, plaintiffs must constantly keep in mind that in cases against major defendants or if the defendant is insured, the plaintiff has a far more stake in the outcome than the defendant.
If the insurance company declines a $50,000 demand and the plaintiff recovers $100,000, the extra $50,000 will mean very little to a huge insurance firm or business. On the other side, if the plaintiff rejects the insurance company’s $50,000 offer and loses at trial, the plaintiff may suffer a catastrophic financial hit, leaving him or her unable to pay their obligations.
III. PLAINTIFF’S COMPARATIVE CULPABILITY.
If a plaintiff is determined to be somewhat responsible for inflicting his or her damage, the plaintiff’s prospective jury judgment is lowered proportionately. In other words, if a matter goes to trial and the plaintiff receives a $100,000 judgment but is determined to be 25% at blame, the plaintiff’s award is reduced to $75,000 from $100,000. Thus, when settling a lawsuit, the plaintiff’s expectations should be reduced by the likelihood of finding the percentage of blame that would occur if the case were tested.
THE CASE’S PROBABLE JURY VERDICT VALUE.
When insurance policy limitations are irrelevant, the majority of competent lawyers will try to settle the case based on what a jury would likely award if the matter went to trial.
Calculating what a jury will award in a particular case is more art than science; nonetheless, fair estimates may be established based on what juries have granted in comparable cases in comparable settings (i.e., locations). Most verdicts are published on “jury sheets,” which attorneys study and use to determine the case’s worth.
EXACERBATION OF LIABILITY
When a jury is likely to get enraged at a defendant for more than negligent behavior, it is well established that juries would “spike” their decision and give a plaintiff more money for their harm than they would if the defendant’s conduct was only negligent.
Aggravated liability scenarios, such as a defendant who was found to be driving while intoxicated or a defendant who willfully injures a plaintiff, raise the defendant’s likelihood of receiving a substantial jury verdict and should be included in settlement negotiations.
Exposure to punitive harm.
If the defendant’s behavior is sufficiently egregious that a jury may impose punitive damages, i.e., damages solely to punish the defendant, this should become a significant element in settlement discussions.
A possible judgment of punitive damages is compounded by the fact that the insurance company is not permitted by law to pay punitive damages; nonetheless, the defendant often seeks to encourage the insurance carrier to pay more in a settlement to avoid the danger of punitive penalties.
The parties’ reputation and credibility.
A plaintiff’s case is more valuable if the plaintiff is liked and credible. It is well established that jurors will give more money to a Colorado they like and believe in than to a Colorado they detest and do not believe in.
This is also true, to a lesser degree, for defendants. A likable or credible defendant is likely to perform better in court than someone who has the opposite characteristics.
The kind and severity of the damage.
In theory, the more significant the harm, the more valuable the plaintiff’s case should be.
Demonstration of harm objectively.
Injuries that can be observed or shown by radiographic evidence such as x-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, or other scientific testing often result in greater settlements than injuries that rely on the plaintiff’s credibility to establish.
Numerous injuries that may have serious repercussions for the plaintiff are not detectable using objective examinations. This may manifest as severe back pain, headaches, and discomfort throughout the body.
Jurors are unwilling to award great damages in the absence of objective proof of harm; hence, the settlement value of any case is boosted by the presence of objective evidence of injury and diminished by its absence.
However, in certain cases, a credible plaintiff may overcome the absence of objective proof of harm, which must be considered in the appropriate situation.
The plaintiff’s past and future medical expenditures.
As long as the plaintiff can demonstrate that their previous and expected future medical expenses are fair and connected to their injuries, the bills will be a significant factor in settlement.
However, the defense will almost always assert some degree of overtreatment, and hence some percentage of the medical expenditures should be eliminated from consideration during the settlement process. Additionally, the defense will argue that the plaintiff is unlikely to need or get the alleged future treatment and that the alleged future treatment is unrelated to the subject occurrence.
Wage loss in the past and future.
Wage loss is another significant factor to examine when analyzing a claim, as long as the plaintiff can prove that he or she was or would be reasonably unable to work due to the subject occurrence.
The defense will almost certainly argue that the amount of wage loss should be discounted because the plaintiff should have returned to work sooner and that, in the case of future wage loss, the plaintiff could be doing work that pays as much as or nearly as much as the work they were doing before the incident.
Additionally, for plaintiffs who are self-employed or lack a clear regular earning history before the accident/incident, establishing a wage loss claim may become challenging.
Is the harm irreversible?
In circumstances where the plaintiff has sustained a permanent disability, and there is objective proof of that injury, the settlement value is likely to be greater since the case will have more jury appeal.
Location (where the claim will be tried).
Certainly, cases tested in certain locales, notably metropolitan areas, resulted in much greater judgments than those tried in more rural counties. This is a component that must be considered in the settlement process.
Policy limitations and assets of the defendant.
Regardless of the severity of the plaintiff’s harm, the plaintiff’s ability to obtain damages against the defendant will be restricted by the defendant’s policy limits or personal assets.
However, in situations involving motor vehicles, the plaintiff may have their own uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance, which provides extra coverage for the plaintiff’s injuries and enables the plaintiff to get further compensation in a settlement with their insurance provider.
Defendants who are singled out.
Even while juries are not required to consider a defendant’s income or whether the defendant is a business when reaching a judgment, they are significantly more likely to award substantial sums to huge corporations than they are to individuals in Colorado who they judge to be middle class or impoverished. As a result, this becomes another critical settlement factor to consider.
Attorney’s reputations and abilities.
The claims representative or defense attorney will inform the insurance company or defendant of the plaintiff’s attorney’s abilities and the probability that the attorney will successfully prosecute the case.
When the defense feels the plaintiff’s counsel will not pursue the matter to trial, the defense is not motivated to provide a considerable sum of money in a settlement.
On the other hand, if the defense feels that the plaintiff’s counsel will go to trial and get the best result possible, the defense’s risk increases, and therefore the case’s settlement value increases.
Similarly, plaintiffs must examine the defense attorney’s reputation and abilities. If the lawsuit is brought against an experienced defense counsel, the plaintiff is likely to obtain less money from the jury; as a result, the case’s settlement value is reduced somewhat.
The settlement should also take the cost of litigation into account. Certain cases, if handled well, may result in expenditures exceeding or almost equaling the amount of any ultimate settlement or judgment.
Certain insurance firms and businesses are cost-conscious and will weigh the costs of pursuing the lawsuit against an early settlement.
However, just because a case may cost the defense $200,000 to defend does not indicate that they would pay the plaintiff $200,000 in a settlement in a case they otherwise value at $25,000.
Rather than that, in the preceding example, it may prompt the corporate or insurance company to increase their offer by five or ten thousand dollars or to attempt an early settlement for $25,000 before real expenditures are incurred.
Corporations and insurance firms are hesitant to make settlement offers based on the expense of defense for fear of being seen as an easy target by plaintiffs. as soon as possible after an accident happens.
How Do Bicycle Laws in Colorado Affect Personal Injury Cases?
Unlike the majority of states, Colorado lacks distinct rules governing automobiles and bicycles. For instance, there are no regulatory requirements for safe passing distances.
Drivers are encouraged to use caution and courtesy, particularly while sharing the road with bikers. If a motorist violates this duty of care and causes an accident that results in injury, the cyclist may be entitled to damages. What are the requirements if a bicyclist violates the road rules?
Bicycles Must Adhere to the Same Rules as Automobiles
Bicyclists are treated the same as motor vehicles when it comes to traffic laws. Bicycles are subject to special laws, which include the following:
- Ride in the designated bike lane or on the far right side of the road.
- Use hand gestures to indicate turns and stops.
- For evening riding, use the appropriate lights and reflectors.
- Comply with any local regulations prohibiting riding on sidewalks.
- Do not connect a wagon or trailer to the vehicle.
- Never cycle with another person on your lap or back.
Cyclists May Still Be Eligible for Compensation Even if They Are Contributing to the Accident
A modified comparative negligence statute governs personal injury claims in Colorado. If you were struck by an automobile while riding a bicycle and want to seek reimbursement for losses such as medical costs, you must bear less than 51% of the blame for the incident.
Liability determinations in these instances might be complicated. That is why you should speak with a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling bicycle accidents. You may be eligible for compensation.
Identifying Who Is Liable in a Bicycle Accident
Bicycle restrictions may not necessarily apply to personal injury claims in Colorado if it is obvious that the motorist acted recklessly. For instance, if you are hit by a motorist charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), it is obvious who is responsible.
In certain instances, the fault for the accident may be shared. For instance, if a biker fails to indicate a turn with his or her hands. Warrior Injury Law will evaluate your case to establish who is primarily responsible for the accident.
Please bear in mind that regardless of whether the motorist faces criminal charges, you have the legal right to seek possible compensation. Pursuing redress is a distinct legal action. Colorado law allows you to bring a personal injury lawsuit two years from the date of the accident.
How a Bicycle Accident Attorney Determines Liability
There are many signs of fault in a bicycle accident resulting in injury:
- As previously stated, the motorist has a duty of care to take reasonable precautions to prevent a collision.
- The driver failed to exercise reasonable caution, resulting in the accident.
- You sustained personal injuries and property damage in the accident;
- You now face expenditures such as medical bills, bicycle repair, and other financial damages resulting from the event.
Numerous Bicycle Accident Victims Sue Their Insurance Companies
In Colorado, motorists are required to have automotive insurance that covers bodily injury and property damage coverage. Warrior Injury Law has secured compensation for clients by filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
While filing a personal injury lawsuit is an option (assuming it is filed within two years of the incident), you may be compensated via a settlement.
Kindly Avoid Dealing with the Insurance Company on Your Own
As bicycle accident and personal injury attorneys, we have seen insurance companies attempt to pay as little as possible on genuine cases. Their strategies include the following:
- Conducting an insufficient or hurried inquiry into your injuries or damages.
- Excessively delaying your claim;
- Attempting to blame you for a portion or all of the accident.
Additionally, you may be recovering from your injuries. Allow an attorney from Warrior Injury Law, to handle the insurance company on your behalf. You will not be responsible for attorney’s costs unless and until we successfully recover your property.
The Different Types of Compensation Available in Bicycle Accident Claims
If you qualify for compensation, you may be compensated for accident-related losses such as:
- Continuation of treatment and therapy
- Decreased earning capacity (temporary or permanent)
- Lost income
- Bicycle repair or replacement
- Mental agony
Contact a bicycle accident attorney in Colorado Springs immediately to arrange for a free case review.
When residents of Colorado are harmed in bicycle accidents, they often have a right to substantial compensation. Bicycle accident victims often recover from various damages, including medical expenditures, lost income, loss of enjoyment of life, and physical and mental pain and suffering.
The attorneys at Warrior Injury Law, are committed personal injury advocates who understand how to acquire their clients the maximum attainable settlement or judgment.
To book a no-cost consultation with one of our Colorado Springs personal injury attorneys, call 719-300-1100 immediately.