Can I File a Motorcycle Accident Claim in Colorado If I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet?
A motorcycle accident can leave motorcyclist with injuries that are extremely painful, expensive to treat and, in turn, life-changing. If someone else was at fault for the accident, a motorcycle can file a claim with the negligent party’s insurance company and pursue compensation that can help to pay for the costs of the injury. However, insurance companies in Colorado rarely want to pay the compensation that accident victims need and deserve.
To avoid paying claims, or in an effort to pay as little as possible, insurance companies turn to a variety of tactics. For instance, if the injured motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, the insurance company may try to use this fact against the motorcyclists. For this reason, it is crucial that all motorcycle accident victims in Colorado understand that they can still recover compensation – even if they were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
What Are Colorado’s Motorcycle Helmet Laws?
Colorado, like other state, has helmet laws that all bikers and their passengers must follow. All motorcyclists and passengers under the age of 18 in Colorado must wear a Department of Transportation-approved helmet. However, riders and passengers age 18 and older have the option of riding without a helmet.
Although adult riders and passengers can choose whether they wear a helmet, it is mandatory that everyone on a motorcycle wears eye protection. A helmet equipped with a visor or face shield is considered adequate eye protection. Goggles or eyeglasses with safety glass or plastic can also meet this requirement. However, a windshield on a motorcycle is not considered proper eye protection.
All motorcycles in Colorado must also be equipped with footrests for passengers, and passengers must use them. Passengers must also always ride behind the motorcycle operator or in a sidecar. No one can ever sit in front of the motorcyclist who is operating the bike.
Can an Insurance Company Use Your Lack of a Helmet Against You?
Many insurance companies try to use Colorado’s modified comparative negligence law to deny or reduce compensation for motorcycle accident victims. Comparative negligence is a legal term. It refers to circumstances in which the accident victim contributed to his or her own crash. In Colorado, the amount of compensation that you recover can be reduced according to the percentage of fault assigned to you. If you are 50 percent or more at fault for a crash, you can be denied any compensation.
However, Colorado’s modified comparative negligence law does not apply to motorcycle accident victims that were not wearing a helmet at the time of their crash. Due to the fact that adult motorcyclists are not required to wear a helmet in the state, it cannot be considered a negligent act.
The Colorado Supreme Court made decision on this issue in the case of Dare v. Sobule. The case involved a wrongful death which occurred in a motorcycle accident. The Supreme Court determined that failing to wear a motorcycle helmet was not considered negligent. The Court also ruled that adult motorcyclists cannot be expected to assume or predict the negligence of others that may cause a crash, and thus, they should not be expected to wear a helmet in order to protect against this harm.
How Can a Lawyer Help with Your Motorcycle Accident Claim?
Many accident victims think they can file a claim on their own, and the insurance company will simply provide them with compensation fairly quickly and easily. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Insurance companies are out to protect their profits. So, they will do everything possible to try to deny or reduce your claim. This is why it will be crucial to work with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer.
At The Sawaya Law Firm, we will thoroughly investigate your motorcycle accident in order to determine why it happened and who should be held responsible for it. We may also consult with experts in accident reconstruction or other fields in order to identify the factors which contributed to your crash. Additionally, we will gather and carefully review your medical records so as to assess the nature and extent of your injuries.
We will use this information to demand full and fair compensation for you, regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. If the insurance company refuses to make a settlement offer which you can accept, then we will be prepared to fight for you in the courtroom.
Should You Wear a Helmet Anyway?
Although Colorado does not require all motorcyclists and passengers to wear a helmet, it is still advisable to wear one at all times when you ride. A helmet can go a long way towards preventing serious or fatal head and brain injuries. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates, helmets are:
- 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle operator deaths
- 41 percent effective in preventing motorcycle passenger deaths.
Additionally, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation reports that a helmet:
- Cuts down on wind noise
- Decreases windblast on your face and eyes
- Deflects bugs and other objects flying through the air
- Contributes to comfort from changing weather conditions
- Reduces rider fatigue.
Contact Our Colorado Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash, do not try to file a claim on your own. At The Sawaya Law Firm, our Colorado motorcycle accident attorneys can help you. We have protected the rights of motorcycle accident victims and their families throughout Colorado for more than four decades.
We know the tricks that insurance companies will use to try to keep their profits by reducing or denying your claim. We refuse to allow insurance companies to get away with these tactics. We work tirelessly to pursue the compensation that our clients deserve. To learn more, contact us today through our offices in Denver, Greeley or Colorado Springs to discuss your case in a free consultation.
Michael established The Sawaya Law Firm in 1977 and built it into one of the largest personal injury law firms in Colorado, with more than 20 lawyers and 80 staff members serving clients from five offices located in Denver, Greeley and Colorado Springs. Throughout its history, the firm has stayed true to its 12 Core Values, which emphasize excellence in advocacy and a commitment to providing outstanding client service. Michael studied sociology and economics as an undergraduate student at The Colorado College, and he earned his law degree from the Texas Tech University School of Law. In addition to being involved in several legal and community organizations, Michael enjoys playing music and cooking, and he has written a book on spiritual matters.