A hit-and-run bicycle accident (what we typically prefer to call a bike wreck or collision) is a cyclist's worst nightmare. It can leave them seriously injured and feeling powerless. However, handling a hit-and-run situation from a legal perspective can actually be more straightforward than you might expect.
Protect Yourself In Advance
To protect yourself against hit and run drivers you should carry uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage on your personal automobile insurance policy. UIM coverage extends to bicycle-motor vehicle collisions. UIM coverage provides you with coverage for your injuries and damages caused by a hit and run driver. The amount of UIM coverage to carry depends on your personal financial situation, but the more the better.
How Are Hit-and-Run Bicycle Accidents Determined?
When it comes to a hit-and-run bicycle accident, determining fault is similar to any other motor vehicle collision. It is important to photograph the scene, your bicycle where it came to rest, and other any evidence of the collision, e.g. skid marks or vehicle debris. You should obtain contact information from any witnesses. In some cases, your bicycle accident attorney may decide to hire an accident reconstructionist to analyze and reconstruct what happened and will attempt to prove the vehicle driver was negligent (it was their fault) in hitting you. They will also try to prove that you were not more than 49% negligent (at fault) in your involvement. This is because Colorado is a comparative negligence state, it is important to establish that the hit and run driver was 51% or more at fault for causing the collision.
After a collision, involved riders/drivers have specific duties and obligations according to Colorado law. They must do the following:
- Exchange contact and insurance information with each other (if the other driver did not flee the scene)
- Remain at the scene of the accident until dismissed by the authorities
- Give aid to anyone injured in the collision by calling the nearest police station
Colorado law treats hit-and-run bicycle accidents very seriously with respect to criminal and civil law. Hit-and-runs are separated into four categories:
- A collision that only causes property damage: Class 2 misdemeanor
- A collision that causes an injury: Class 1 misdemeanor
- A collision that causes a serious bodily injury: Class 4 felony
- A collision that causes death: Class 3 felony
Penalties of jail time and fines can accompany these misdemeanors and felonies, as well as being responsible for damages to the victim.
If you have been the victim of a hit-and-run bicycle accident, you should contact experienced bike accident lawyers in Colorado to discuss your case.
Common Causes of Hit-And-Run Crashes
There are typically common factors among hit-and-run accidents, whether they involve bicyclists or not. Drivers of the vehicle are often engaged in careless driving, distracted driving or drunk driving.
The most common example of distracted driving is when a person engages in cell phone use, such as texting while driving. However, many other behaviors qualify as distracted driving, including anything that diverts the driver's attention away from the road, such as:
- Using a mobile device (like a cell phone)
- Grooming (applying makeup, shaving, etc.)
- Looking at the vehicle’s media screen
- Looking at a road map
- Adjusting the radio
- Reacting to children within the vehicle
These examples represent a fragment of activities that could qualify someone as a distracted driver. When a driver is distracted, the chances of an accident escalate — this includes hit-and-run bicycle accidents.
Drunk driving is another leading factor in Colorado's hit-and-run bicycle accidents. Drunk driving is defined by Colorado law as having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or more while driving or up to two hours after driving. Drunk driving can also be defined as having ingested alcohol and/or one or more drugs that have disabled the person from being either mentally or physically capable of exercising clear judgment.
What to Do If You're a Bike Accident Victim in a Hit and Run
If you find yourself a victim of a hit-and-run bicycle accident, there are certain steps you should take to protect yourself both physically and legally. After a bike accident hit-and-run, you should:
- First and foremost, take care of yourself - your personal safety should always be your top priority
- Call authorities and file a police report
- Seek medical care even if you don’t think you’re seriously injured, get evaluated by medical professionals both at the scene of the wreck and after the event
- Gather evidence of the accident-take pictures, get statements from bystanders or others involved in the collision
- Contact your insurance provider
- Reach out to a bicycle accident attorney
If you do each of these things, your bicycle accident attorney will be more likely to make a successful case for you.
Call Authorities and File a Police Report
As a victim of a hit-and-run bike accident, the first thing you should do is call the local authorities and file a police report. As previously mentioned, the driver of the vehicle that hit you has a legal duty to remain at the scene, contact local authorities, and exchange contact and insurance information with the other parties.
Unfortunately, in a hit-and-run, the driver has ignored this duty and fled the scene. Therefore, you or a bystander must call the local authorities and you must file a police report.
Seek Medical Care
Next, you must seek medical care after a bike accident. Often, a victim will feel physically fine after a collision, only to have injuries materialize at a later date. Therefore, you must follow up with a doctor as soon as possible after your accident and have a medical professional list each injury you sustained. Medical records are an excellent way to document proof of your injuries and their extent, some of which may not be evident right after the collision.
Gather Evidence of the Accident
While at the scene, you will want to gather evidence of the hit-and-run bicycle accident. It's possible that you didn't see the vehicle after it hit you, but maybe someone else did. Gather the contact information of any witnesses to the hit-and-run as soon as you can-bystanders may not be easy to track down later and what they provide can be very important to your case.
Take photos of everything that seems relevant and even things that don’t. There is no such thing as too much photographic documentation after an accident. Take pictures of your injuries, your bike's damage, and the vehicle that hit you, if possible. Take photos of the scene-the road, line/s of sight, and the general surrounding environment. If you have to move your bike due to traffic, take pictures first. If you don't have to move your bike, it's best to leave it as is until the police arrive. Don't get your bike repaired until the damage has been fully photographed and documented.
Contact Your Insurance Provider
Next, you should reach out to your insurance provider. If you have personal injury protection coverage, it can cover your medical bills if the hit-and-run driver is not found or is underinsured. When speaking with any insurance provider, don't make a statement regarding the accident. Additionally, don't sign any medical releases before speaking with a specialized bicycle accident attorney.
Reach Out to a Bicycle Accident Attorney
Since cycling is such a popular activity, there are experienced hit-and-run bike accident lawyers in Boulder, Colorado. Colorado lawyers who are experienced in hit-and-run bicycle accidents can help walk you through the process of claiming damages caused by the driver.
We at Mann & Maximon are avid, passionate cyclists ourselves. We ride bikes and compete in bike races all over the country and throughout Colorado regularly. In fact, cycling is something we’re extremely passionate about in our personal lives. We understand the interactions between cyclists and the surrounding environment - we’re here to help you and protect the rights of cyclists in our community.
Where You Can Find a Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Your Area
When contacting local lawyers in Colorado, it's important to focus on lawyers who are experienced with local hit-and-run bicycle accidents. The best resource you can use is the internet. If you are in any local cycling groups, consider asking for recommendations if other members have experience working with Colorado lawyers for similar incidents.
How To Know If You Should Contact an Attorney After Your Bike Accident
If you have suffered any physical injuries, it is best to contact a local bicycle accident attorney to discuss your hit-and-run collision, even if you don’t think you’ll want to file a lawsuit. Mann and Maximon are local lawyers in Boulder, Colorado, who are experienced in hit-and-run bicycle accident cases.
In fact, riding bikes is a huge part of our personal lives, both competitively and of course for fun!
Contact us to speak with an experienced bike accident attorney in Boulder today.
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Call our office at 303-991-2233 or use our online contact form to get in touch with us today.
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