If you have been injured in a Colorado hit and run bicycle accident, you may be facing more serious consequences than usual. This is mostly because of two factors.
First, traffic events between a bicycle and any other road user are likely to end bad for the cyclist. This is because bicycles offer almost no protection to their riders, so you will be taking most of the brunt of the impact on your body. This can lead to very serious injury.
Second, the fact that it is a hit and run event means that the driver has fled the scene after causing damage. By implication, you would have the responsibility to deal with your injuries, without the means to hold the at fault driver responsible.
Both of these factors combine to make Colorado hit and run bicycle accidents extremely inconvenient affairs. The major question that is likely to be on your mind after such an accident is: how do you obtain compensation? And you most probably will need compensation too, since your injuries are likely to be significant.
That is where we come in. As a celebrated Colorado personal injury firm, Malman Law Firm is known for aggressively fighting our clients’ cases. Due to our over 40 years’ experience litigating on behalf of clients just like you, we know exactly how to make your case work. We have helped wrongfully injured clients recover compensation running into hundreds of millions and we would love to help you too.
This article explains your options for compensation in the event of a Colorado bicycle hit and run accident. It also explains how you can go about obtaining this compensation.
Bicycle accidents happen all too often in Colorado
According to data from pedbikeinfo, 783 cyclists were killed in crashes with vehicles in 2017. Along with pedestrian deaths, they represented 18.2% of all traffic fatalities that year. Unfortunately, the data shows an increase in the number of cyclists being killed in accidents since 2003.
At the time, the total number of fatalities from pedestrian and bicycle fatalities was 12.6% of all fatalities. Fast forward to 2017 and they constituted 18.2% of all fatalities. This is an increase of almost 31%, compared to total traffic fatalities, which dropped by 0.8%.
The stats show one thing clearly: it has become more dangerous for cyclists to ride on American roads.
According to the same data, the majority of bicycle accident fatalities happen in dark conditions. At 45%, most of these crashes occur between the hours of 6:00pm to 9:00pm.
The worst part about the data is that it is agreed the available data is just the “tip of the iceberg”. Studies indicate that as many as 55% of bicycle accidents may be missing from police reports and crash data.
Implications of a hit and run on your chances of compensation
When bicycle accidents, serious as they are, combine with hit and run events, things get a whole lot more serious. When a hit and run event occurs, it means that the driver has left the scene of the accident, without complying with the law.
Under the Colorado Vehicle Code, all drivers and individuals involved in a traffic accident have specific obligations. The law requires that everyone involved in an accident must remain at the scene and provide their:
- Personal details, including names and addresses;
- Vehicle details, including license numbers;
- Insurance details, including the name and address of your insurer
Importantly, it does not matter who is at fault in the accident. The law requires that everyone involved in the accident provide these details.
Leaving the scene of the accident is a criminal offence. But the implications are even more serious for the injured victim. This is because there is an excellent chance that the driver may never be caught.
Reports indicate that in Los Angeles county for instance, the police solved only 8% of hit and run cases in 2017. This means there is a 92% chance that the driver may never be caught and you may never have the opportunity to claim compensation against them.
What are your options for compensation?
Ordinarily, when you are involved in a traffic accident and injury is caused to you by another person, you have several options for compensation. Generally, you can seek compensation from:
- The at-fault party’s insurer: Depending on the kind of coverage they have, their insurers would be bound to reimburse any medical costs you incur. You would also be able to claim for other heads of compensation from the insurer.
- The at-fault party’s employer: In situations where the at-fault party was on the job when they caused injury to you, you may be able to claim against their employer. This would require bringing a vicarious liability suit.
- The at-fault party in a personal action: Where the at-fault individual does not have insurance, you can claim against them personally. The difficulty here though is they may not be worth enough, personally, to pay damages in a court action.
- Your own insurer: Failing all of the above, your best bet to compensation would lie with your insurer. If you have personal injury cover or medical benefits coverage, your insurer should cover any medical bills up to $5,000. This is not a huge sum obviously. But you should be able to recover more from your insurer if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
- Your household member’s policy: If you do not have car insurance, you may be able to claim on your family member or spouse’s car insurance. They would need to have qualifying coverage and reside at the same address as you though.
Obviously, the first three options for compensation are dependent on the possibility that the driver will be caught. But if the driver is never caught, you must look to other sources of compensation.
You can help the police in their task by providing them key information about the driver including details about the vehicle and its license number. You can also inform them about the direction that the driver went as well as their physical description. If possible, you can point them in the direction of anyone that also witnessed the accident.
How to deal with insurance companies
As you must have concluded by now, your best chance at compensation lies with your own insurer or that of your household member. But insurers are not over eager about shelling out thousands of dollars in compensation either. If they can, they would rather prefer to reject your claim or pay you peanuts.
You should not have many problems with insurance companies if the accident leaves you with only minor injuries. You may not even need a lawyer for those.
But in 9 out of 10 cases, being involved in a crash with a vehicle will leave you with serious injuries. You may be looking at broken bones, fractures, severe whiplash and internal injury. All these mean you will be looking to claim a substantial amount from the insurance company.
Considering that your best bet to compensation lies with them, you need to understand how to deal with them. Here are a few tips:
- Never speak to the insurers before speaking to your lawyer: Just don’t do it. Even if the insurer tells you that the services of a lawyer will be unnecessary as they are willing to play ball. They will look out for the company’s profit margin, not what is fair to you. This is why it is important to consult with your lawyer first before you talk to an insurer.
- Watch what you say: Anything you say may be used against you by the insurance company. So you have to be really careful. Comments like “I’m alright” or “I should have been more careful” will hurt your claim.
- Gather whatever evidence you can: At the scene of the crime, try to take pictures of the scene with your phone. If there are any witnesses to the accident, take down their information for later. If they refuse to give you their information, you can note their license plate numbers. This can help you track them down later.
- Write everything down: Writing down that you can remember about the accident helps you get your story straight. It is also best to do this while the story is fresh in your mind. Include everything that the other driver or passenger said. Leave absolutely nothing out.
- Get medical treatment and document your injuries: Do not refuse medical treatment from EMT at the scene of the accident. Even if you feel alright, let them check you up. You never know what adrenaline may be covering.
Your Colorado bicycle accident attorney can help
At Malman Law Firm, we take a personal approach to our clients’ personal injury claims. We will pull out all the stops to ensure that you recover fair compensation for the injuries you have suffered.
If you would like to know more about how we can help you, please call us on (303) 733-7900 or click here to schedule a free case review today. Our lawyers will be delighted to speak with you.