Bicycling and Personal Injury Claims in Colorado
Colorado’s beautiful vistas and wide-open spaces beacon to hobby cyclists, but town roads and city streets throughout the state are also the territory of bike riders. State laws allow cyclists to travel most roadways but require them to follow bike-specific and general traffic laws, just like any other vehicle on the road. Likewise, motorists must afford cyclists the same respect, consideration, and clearance as they would any other vehicle with which they share the road.
Obeying traffic laws decreased the chances of a collision, but accident do still happen. If you’ve been hit by a car, you may be entitled to an insurance settlement to cover your:
Property damage, and
Other accident-related losses.
When an insurance payout is not sufficient or fair, a lawsuit may be necessary. Colorado’s personal injury laws require you to file your suit within two years of the date of the accident.
Colorado Bike Laws
Bicyclists that adhere to all Colorado bike laws as well as general traffic laws may have an easier time filing a personal injury claim. This means that Colorado bicyclists must:
Stop at stop signs and traffic lights
Yield to pedestrians
Use hand signals before a turn. In Colorado, you can simply “point” in the direction in which you’re turning, but you must do so at least 100 feet ahead of your turn.
On top of general traffic safety laws, Colorado bicyclists need to adhere to bicycle equipment laws, such as using the bike land when readily accessible and having reflectors equipped to the bike.
Helmet and Safety Seat Laws – Bikes can only carry the number of people they are designed to accommodate, except when using a properly installed, child safety seat, in which case, a passenger is permitted. Colorado does not have any statewide helmet laws.
Bike Lanes, Sidewalks, and Road Sharing – sidewalk riding is only permitted in certain areas and you should be familiar with local ordinances to ensure you follow the letter of the law. In any location where a bike lane is present, riders should use it, if it is safe and passable. Bicyclists must move with traffic and should not occupy more than one lane, preferably keeping as far to the right as possible. It is illegal for motorists to drive within 3 feet of a bicyclist in Colorado.
Bike Equipment Requirements – All bikes on the road after dark must have a front, white light, visible from 500 feet away, and a rear, red reflector, visible from 600 feet away.
Failing to follow any law can complicate an insurance claim and a personal injury lawsuit, if one is necessary in your case. For more information on Colorado’s bicycle laws, visit Bicycle Colorado.
Negligence Determinations and Personal Injury Claims
Colorado follows a comparative negligence system when determining fault. The actions of both parties involved in an accident are examined when deciding insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits. You can be partially at fault for your accident and still receive damages, but your degree of fault is a major factor in the outcome.
The comparative fault system used in the state allows you to be 50 percent responsible and still receive a payout. It is important to understand however that your payout amount is reduced according to your level of fault. For example, if you are 10 percent responsible, then any payout you receive is reduced by 10 percent.
Filing a Claim
The first step in a personal injury claim after a bike accident is to file with the insurance company of the driver that hit you. If the driver is uninsured, underinsured, or if the settlement offered by the insurance adjuster is unfair or insufficient for covering your injuries and losses, then you can file a personal injury lawsuit.
Accident lawsuits are typically filed in the county in which the accident occurred. Most hearings take place in county courthouses, which are also where legal petitions are filed. Hearings for civil suits, like personal injury claims, are sometimes held in other legal centers though. The jurisdiction and potential value of your claim determine what court location is appropriate.
Although you can file an insurance claim and a lawsuit on your own, having the assistance of a personal injury attorney can be invaluable. This is particularly true if your case must proceed to court or is worth a substantial sum.
Deanna Power, Personal Injury Law [email protected]
This article was not written by an attorney, and the accuracy of the content is not warranted or guaranteed. If you wish to receive legal advice about a specific problem, you should contact a licensed attorney in your area.