Colorado Biker Lawyer: Dianne Sawaya
For the majority of motorcyclists, being hit by a vehicle is their biggest concern. Auto vs. motorcycle accidents happen in an instant, changing lives forever. When a motorcyclist is hit as a result of the negligence of another driver, there is virtually nothing they could have done to prevent the accident. Yet the motorcyclist is often left with catastrophic injuries because he or she has little protection, other than a helmet. The driver of the vehicle, on the other hand, is inside a 4,000-pound vehicle, protected with airbags, safety belts and a steel and glass “cage.” Because of this, motorcycle accidents are often horrific for the motorcyclist.
At the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya, we can help you recover after a traumatic motorcycle accident—physically, emotionally and financially. There are a number of steps which must be taken following a motorcycle accident in order to properly present a personal injury claim. Our highly experienced motorcycle injury attorneys will be by your side throughout the entire process, helping you get the medical treatments you need, and working aggressively to get you the compensation you need and deserve after a devastating accident.
Helping the injured in Colorado for over 25 years.
Do you have a case? Get your free case review now.
When we take your case, you are our priority.
Facts About Motorcycle Accidents
According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2016, 5,286 people died in motorcycle collisions, up 5.1 percent from 2015. In 2016, motorcyclists were 28 times more likely than the occupants of a passenger vehicle to die in a collision, per vehicle mile traveled. Motorcycles, by virtue of their size, are simply less crashworthy than “closed” vehicles, as well as less visible to other drivers and less stable than a vehicle with four wheels. Operating a motorcycle requires a different combination of mental and physical skills than we use when operating a passenger vehicle. Finally, motorcyclists are more vulnerable to inclement weather and hazardous road conditions than those in a passenger vehicle.
Helmet use can save lives, yet since 2000, helmet use has decreased, coming to an all-time low in 2005 at 48 percent, then increasing to 65 percent in 2017. In fact, if all motorcyclists in fatal crashes had been wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, it is estimated that at least 802 lives would have been saved. The majority of motorcycle accidents occur on weekends, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., followed by weekdays from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.—the time when many people are leaving work and heading home.
According to a 2018 Forbes article, distraction is a major factor in motorcycle accidents. Drivers today spend an incredible amount of time talking, texting, fiddling with the controls on their car, eating, drinking, turning around to referee children, and even reading. Any of these activities can make an already-less-visible motorcyclist even more likely to be hit. There are also considerably more older motorcyclists across the nation—riders over the age of 40 now comprise the greatest share of motorcyclist fatalities nationwide.
Concussions and Head Injuries Following a Motorcycle Accident
While the likelihood of serious injury is high for a motorcyclist involved in an accident, perhaps the most serious injuries are those to the head. When a motorcyclist who is struck by a car is not wearing a helmet, the head can strike pavement or another hard surface, causing the brain to slam into the hard bones of the skull. The brain is “spongy” and is surrounded by fluid, then further protected by the skull bones. Under normal circumstances, the fluid is a cushion inside the hard skull bones, protecting the brain from injury, yet a serious blow to the head can result in a mild to severe concussion and traumatic brain injury.
Victims of head injuries following a motorcycle accident can have such symptoms as difficulty concentrating, chronic headaches, blurry vision, confusion, loss of consciousness, sensitivity to loud noises or light, nausea, insomnia, and even short-term memory loss. A doctor may perform a CT scan, or conduct a neurological workup to determine if a victim of a motorcycle accident suffered a concussion.
There are few medical treatments for a concussion, other than rest, lots of fluids and pain medications. Concussions have, in some instances, caused long-term depression in the victim, and recent research suggests a severe head injury can leave the victim at a much higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. All in all, head injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents can have life-altering consequences, yet because a concussion is not an obvious injury—like a broken bone—insurance adjusters and defense attorneys may attempt to diminish the serious nature of the injury.
Road Rash-More Serious Than You Might Think
Skin abrasions suffered in a motorcycle accident are commonly known as “road rash.” Such injuries occur when unprotected skin is scraped along a road surface, rubbing off external skin layers. In some extreme cases, the road rash is so severe that the muscle is exposed. Deeper road rash abrasions can result in chronic pain, and scarring of the skin. Unfortunately, road rash injuries are all-too-often dismissed as being relatively minor. Since the skin is the largest organ of the body, extensive road rash can lead to serious infection. In fact, a “simple” infection resulting from road rash can quickly turn into a flesh-eating infection such as MRSA.
Road rash typically occurs on the outside of the lower legs, the knees, the shoulders, the thighs and the palms. It is imperative that a motorcyclist with road rash follow all doctor’s orders, check the wounds daily, and see a physician immediately if any redness or swelling occurs. Serious cases of road rash can require reconstructive surgery and skin grafts, and the motorcyclist may be left dealing with extremely expensive medical procedures because of a negligent driver with no way to pay for the necessary treatments.
Other Motorcycle Accident Injuries
In addition to head injuries and road rash injuries, motorcyclists involved in an auto accident are most likely to suffer bruises, cuts, broken bones, amputation of limbs, internal organ damage, and neck and back injuries. If you have suffered any level of injury from a motorcycle accident, you must carefully consider the length of time you can expect for recovery, as well as the types of medical care you may need. In some instances, it is difficult to accurately make these determinations, because there is no way to know whether complications will arise. Because recovery times are so unpredictable, consulting with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney from the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya can make a significant difference in the outcome of your claim.
How Do Insurance Companies Handle Motorcycle Accidents?
Because insurers are aware that jurors can have certain biases against a motorcyclist which could prevent a just verdict for the insured motorcyclist, the insurance company may follow suit by failing to offer a fair settlement to motorcyclists injured in a collision. Unfortunately, many motorcyclists fail to hire a knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyer until they have found out the hard way they will not be offered a fair settlement. By that time, the insurance adjuster may also have convinced the injured motorcyclist to allow a recorded statement where he or she could have made ill-advised statements.
Remember that insurance companies care about one thing—their financial bottom line. In spite of the warm and fuzzy insurance commercials you see on television, the insurance company is not your friend, and will not be looking out for your best interests. Only an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can do that, so do not delay contacting an attorney from the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya following your motorcycle accident.
Determining Motorcycle Damages Following an Accident
Once fault is determined following a motorcycle accident, the amount of damages will be addressed. Personal injuries will be assessed first, based on the severity of your injuries, whether you were forced to take time off from your job, whether you will be able to work in the future, whether you suffered mentally and emotionally, and how much pain and suffering you are dealing with. The more significant these personal injury damages, the greater the compensation will be. Next, the damages to your motorcycle will be determined in the traditional manner, by having an insurance adjuster assess the damages and then obtaining repair quotes from several local body shops.
There will be damages which can be calculated exactly—known as special damages—and other damages which are harder to quantify. Damages to your motorcycle and your medical expenses are examples of special damages because they are easy to calculate, almost down to the penny. Special damages may also include future lost earnings, which can be a bit more difficult to calculate; however, your attorney will likely hire an economic expert to present these damages to a jury.
Damages which are harder to calculate are things like pain and suffering. While there are no hard and fast rules for how an insurance company will calculate an amount for pain and suffering, attorneys often multiply the actual damages by a number between 1 and 5—depending on the severity of the injury. Other times a per diem method is used, where a specific amount—like $100—is assigned to every day from the day of the accident until you reach maximum recovery.
Misperceptions Regarding Motorcyclists
Because far fewer people drive motorcycles than drive cars, there is a basic lack of understanding of the unique conditions facing motorcyclists on the highways. Bikers are allowed, in some cases, to do things a bit differently than vehicles. In a few states, lane splitting—riding between lanes of traffic—or using the car pool lane is allowed for motorcyclists (lane splitting is not legal in Colorado). This can annoy the drivers around the motorcyclist, because they have probably never ridden a motorcycle. Drivers often fail to give motorcyclists enough room, totally ignoring the necessity for a bigger stopping distance to avoid rear-ending a vulnerable motorcyclist.
There also may be a misperception among jurors who have no experience with motorcycles to believe all motorcyclists are reckless, exceeding the speed limit on a regular basis. Even when a motorcyclist clearly had the right-of-way, the blame may still be placed on the motorcyclist. This prejudicial thinking must be overcome by the attorney for the motorcyclist. Dianne Sawaya is a strong advocate for motorcyclists who have been injured in an auto accident—she will fight aggressively for your rights and your future.
How Do You Stay Safe on a Motorcycle?
If you ride a motorcycle, always wear a helmet with a protective face shield or protective eye gear. Wear protective gear which can minimize the level of injury you experience should you be in an accident or a skid. Leather clothing and boots can help protect your body from such severe injuries. Always follow the rules of the road, including obeying speed limits. Never ride when fatigued, and always ride sober. Take the time to complete a riding education program, get licensed, and taking riding courses from time to time to hone your riding techniques. Finally, always ride defensively. Never assume drivers can see you—ride with your headlights on, stay out of driver’s blind spots, signal well in advance, and always watch for turning vehicles.
How We Can Help You with Your Motorcycle Accident
At the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya, we are dedicated to presenting the right case for you after your Denver motorcycle accident. We have many years of experience which ensures our clients receive a thorough investigation into their accident and are properly and fairly reimbursed for their losses. We understand that your motorcycle accident was only the beginning of the many changes to your life—we want to get you back to your normal routine as quickly as possible and will do everything in our power to do so.
A motorcycle accident is something you will never forget, however when you have the smart, aggressive, compassionate legal team from the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya in your corner, your future looks immensely brighter. Contact the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya today. We offer a free consultation and will answer any questions you may have regarding your Denver motorcycle accident and your future.