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Denver Personal Injury Law Blog

Holding employers accountable for employees’ stoned driving

Here in Colorado, one of the big issues since the legalization of marijuana has been to address the potential ramifications of marijuana use by drivers. This issue includes the problem of drugged driving as well as personal injury liability when a drugged driver causes an accident. The risk of marijuana-induced accidents has always been around, of course, but the concern is that the change in legal status could make the problem more prominent.

For employers, the issue is an important one, since they can open themselves up to liability if they hire employees who use marijuana on the job, not to mention increased insurance rates and potentially decreased productivity from workers, at least according to some. Exactly how this issue plays out in the future remains to be seen.

On bicyclists and following the rules of the road

Most drivers have, at some point, dealt with or witnessed a bicyclist failing to obey traffic signs and signals, taking a dangerous turn, taking up an entire lane, or doing some other unsafe or illegal maneuver on the road. This can obviously be frustrating for motorists, who are justifiably concerned, not only by the prospect of getting in an accident and being held liable, but also because of the assumed presumed bravado of rule-breaking cyclists. The tension between bicyclists and motorists in many places is well known.

What is interesting is that, in some cases, bicyclists who break the law are doing so in an effort to ensure their own safety, at least according to one researcher at the University of Colorado in Denver. The problem is that, in many places, road systems are built for cars and do not accommodate cyclists as well as they could, or at all. If this is true, one important solution to the issue of cycling safety is for communities to increase infrastructure that better supports cycling. This is something Denver is doing. 

Awareness campaign a reminder of the motorcycling risks, P.2

In our last post, we mentioned that May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and began speaking about two particularly important messages about which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is attempting to educate the public with respect to motorcycle safety. The first of these, as we mentioned, is the importance of road-sharing, while the other is the importance of sober riding.

Drinking and riding is especially important for motorcyclists to avoid, first of all because they are most at risk in an accident with another vehicle. This is particularly the case with larger vehicles. In addition to the sheer threat of injury, there is also the possibility of not being able to recover full damages if another driver causes an accident. What do we mean by this?

Awareness campaign a reminder of the motorcycling risks

May, as some Denver readers may know, is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website, there are two main messages that are being promoted as part of the awareness campaign.

The first of these is that all motorists need to work at sharing the road and mutually respecting each other's rights. This is an important issue, because it too often happens that drivers of larger vehicles treat motorcyclists as if they don't have as much of a place on the road as they do. This attitude can lead to unsafe driving practices that unnecessarily put motorcyclists at risk. 

Will I be covered by insurance if I am injured in a ridesharing accident?

Car insurance is critical for anybody who gets behind the wheel, not only to comply with the requirements of state law, but especially to ensure one is covered for injuries and damages in the event of a motor vehicle accident. With the increase in the use of ridesharing services through companies like Lyft and Uber, it is important for both drivers and riders to make sure they understand the dynamics of insurance coverage that apply when a crash occurs.  

Those who drive for a ridesharing company are covered by the company’s own insurance policy, though this coverage only applies while the driver has passengers in his or her vehicle, not while a driver is waiting to pick up a passenger. This means that many drivers participating in ridesharing may have a coverage gap. What is that?

Work with us to build strong case for compensation after fatal motor vehicle accident

Motor vehicle accidents can have a variety of consequences ranging from a little whiplash to death. When fatal car accidents occur, it is a stark reminder of the risks motorist take when they get behind the wheel and the importance of exercising reasonable care in the operation of a motor vehicle.

Last weekend, three people died in three separate motor vehicle crashes in the Denver metro area. Two of the accidents involved drunken drivers, and two of the victims were motorcyclists while one was a pedestrian. The drunken drivers are likely going to be facing charges, as they should, but that does not address the losses experienced by the victims of the accidents, including the victims’ families. 

Insurance coverage after hit-and-run accident

In our last post, we began speaking about seeking punitive damages in hit-and-run cases. As we noted last time, even when they are awarded, the collection of punitive damages—or compensatory damages for that matter—isn’t always possible due to offending motorist’s lack of insurance and financial solvency.

The reasons why motorists flee from the scene of an auto accident that they caused vary, of course, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the rate of uninsured motorists is higher in hit-and-run cases than in ordinary crashes. Uninsured motorists know that, in addition to possible criminal charges, they can face personal financial responsibility if they remain at the scene of an accident. So what happens, then, when the motorist flees and isn’t caught, or when the motorist is caught but is unable to pay a judgment? And how can an attorney help?

Seeking punitive damages in hit and run cases

Recent posts on this blog have focused on the issue of what damages may be available in hit-and-run accident cases in Colorado. We’ve already spoken briefly about economic and non-economic damages. There is another type of damages, though, that we would like to discuss in this post: punitive damages.

Punitive or exemplary damages are a unique category of damages because they are only available in certain types of cases, and for a purpose quite different from compensatory damages. While compensatory damages are intended to compensate the accident victim for his or her injuries and other losses, punitive damages are intended to punish the offender in a civil context and to deter other from acting the same way. 

How do I obtain non-economic damages in Colorado?

In our last post, we began speaking about the distinction between economic and non-economic damages. As we noted, non-economic damages include a variety of losses that cannot be readily measured in monetary terms, and many states put caps on these damages in order to make sure that juries don’t come up with excessive awards.

Here in Colorado, non-economic damages are generally capped for personal injury cases at $366,250, though courts are given the discretion to award more than this depending on the circumstances. For wrongful death awards, non-economic damages have a slightly lower cap of $341,250, though the possibility of upward deviation exists in these cases as well.

Damages in Colorado hit-and-run cases

Last week, cycling champion Lance Armstrong reportedly pleaded guilty to charges connected to a hit-and-run accident last year in Aspen. Nobody was injured or killed in the crash, though there were property damages when Armstrong side-swiped two parked cars near a ski resort. Sources said Armstrong paid fines and court costs through the mail, and was able to avoid a public appearance.

Hit-and-run doesn’t always end so well for offenders, of course, particularly when somebody is injured or killed. Criminal charges for hit-and-run are an important part of the achieving justice for accident victims, but personal injury litigation can also be an important part of the picture.

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