Despite what you may find during your research, there isn’t an average bicycle accident lawsuit in Colorado. The events leading up to every bicycle accident differ from case to case, whether it’s because of a negligent driver, poorly kept city streets, or a defect with the bike itself.
Even if you took every published settlement for a bicycle accident on the internet and calculated an average, it wouldn’t be an accurate representation of all cases. This is because most settlements are confidential, which means that the average only accounts for a portion of the total. Ultimately, the only way to know the potential value of your claim is to understand the factors that affect it and how an experienced bicycle accident attorney might calculate it.
Factors Affecting a Bicycle Accident Settlement
When you get into a bicycle accident, there are several factors that may affect the value of your potential settlement. Since every case differs, it’s important to take all the following factors into consideration when estimating your settlement.
The Severity of Your Injuries
One of the major aspects of your case is the severity of your injuries sustained in the accident. Generally, the more severe your injuries are, the more compensation you may be able to seek. This is especially true if your injuries cause permanent disability or disfigurement, such as paralysis, paraplegia, quadriplegia, cognitive issues, or amputation. These conditions often require lifelong care or future medical treatment, so the victims usually pursue compensation for future medical costs.
The Share of Negligence
Under CRS § 13-21-111, Colorado uses a modified comparative negligence doctrine to determine fault in an accident. This means that even if the claimant is partially at fault for their injuries, they may still seek compensation. However, their share of fault must be less than 50%, and their award must be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if Susan runs a stop sign on her bike and crashes into John, who also ran the stop sign in his car, a jury may find Susan 20% at fault. If Susan’s total damages are $1,000,000, the court would reduce her final award by her percentage of fault, bringing the new total to $800,000. If a jury found them both to be 50% at fault, Susan would not be allowed to recover any damages.
The Driver’s Insurance Policy
In Colorado, every driver must have the minimum auto insurance coverage set by the state. Currently, the minimum coverage required by the state is as follows:
- $25,000 for injury or death to any one person in a single accident,
- $50,000 for injury or death to multiple people in a single accident, and
- $15,000 for property damage in a single accident.
Unfortunately, there are many people who drive without carrying the necessary insurance. In cases where an uninsured driver causes a bicycle accident, the bicyclist may be able to file a claim with their own auto insurer if they have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. However, if the defendant has enough capital, it’s possible to pursue compensation from them directly as well.
Calculating Damages for a Bicycle Accident Lawsuit in Colorado
There are three potential types of damages you may receive in a bicycle accident lawsuit in Colorado: economic (which includes an additional category of “permanent impairment”), non-economic, and exemplary. Each damage type depends on the unique circumstances of the case and not all damages may be applicable. Here is a breakdown of the damages that may be included in a bicycle accident.
Also referred to as special damages, economic damages encompass all tangible costs and expenses related to the accident. Generally, this includes things like vehicle damage, medical treatment, hospitalization, and lost wages. However, it also includes any long-term care expenses, such as accessibility conversions to your home or vehicle.
To estimate immediate economic losses, you will need to add up any receipts or medical bills related to your accident. If your injuries will require ongoing medical care and cause you to lose wages, you will need the assistance of an experienced Colorado bicycle accident attorney.
Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate than economic losses. This is because non-economic damages are subjective and intangible, such as pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, etc.
There are a few different ways an attorney may calculate non-economic damages. These calculations typically depend upon how severe your injuries are, and how long they are anticipated to continue.
Punitive or exemplary damages are somewhat rare. The court usually awards exemplary damages only in cases where the defendant acted especially recklessly or intentionally. An example of when a court might award exemplary damages would be if the defendant was driving drunk or was texting fled from the scene of the accident.
Injured While Riding Your Bike? We Can Help
At McCormick & Murphy, P.C., we know how difficult it is to manage a bicycle accident lawsuit in Colorado on your own. While the insurance company may say they are on your side, they just want to pay as little as possible for your injuries. We believe you deserve better.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us online or give us a call today. We proudly serve clients throughout Colorado from our offices in Denver, Pueblo, and Colorado Springs.