Category Archives: Denver Personal Injury Attorney
Distracted Driving in Denver – The Major Distracter, Use of Mobile Phones
The Colorado law protects the rights of distracted driving victims.
In 2014, Colorado witnessed 486 road fatalities, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation, with 43 of the accidents reported in Denver.
During the same period, many more motorists were seriously injured during the collisions. This is a true reflection of the constant risk and unending danger motorists in Denver face while on the road.
Distracted driving is one of the major causes of fatalities in Colorado. However, it’s the easiest to prevent. Focusing on driving and paying attention on the road on the part of drivers can help reduce collisions and thus save many lives.
In 2013, according to NHTSA, distracted driving caused more than 3,100 deaths in the wider US nation. If drivers focused on the road and avoided distractions, lives lost through such accidents would have been saved.
A Denver car accident lawyer can help victims of distracted driving to file claim for damages and injuries afflicted during such crashes.
The Use of Mobile Phones – The Number One Cause of Distracted Driving
Mobile phone use is the most widespread issue in matters regarding distracted driving. More than 660,000 drivers, according to NHTSA, use their phones every moment, every day.
Each time a driver decides to use his or her phone to text or make a call, they divert their attention and eyes off the road for at least five seconds. When travelling at 55 mph, this time is enough to cover the length of a football field hence the risk of causing a fatality.
Colorado has laws in place that restrict drivers from using their mobile phones while driving. For instance, drivers below 18 years are not allowed to use mobile phones while driving, whatsoever. However, drivers at least 18 years old are allowed to make phone calls only; no manual entering of information onto phones like texting.
However, drivers have exceptions in the law on usage of their mobile phones when contacting a public safety entity or having an emergency like the need to report a fatality, fire, criminal act or even a road hazard.
A distracted driver while using a mobile phone can be fined $50 for a first offence and $100 for a second offence. However, they are legally obliged to pay for damages caused.
Denver Car Accident Lawyer
Victims of distracted driving, specifically a texting driver, can use the services of a Denver car accident lawyer to file for compensation for injuries, medical expenses, lost wages and even pain or suffering caused. We invite you to contact the Bendinelli Law Firm to discuss the specifics of your situation.
Did you miss listening to Marco Bendinelli’s guest appearance on Craig Silverman’s Lawyer’s Lounge? It’s not too late! You can listen to the podcast now! You’ll hear Marco talk about growing up in Pittsburg, his family, his path to becoming a personal injury attorney and moving to Colorado.
Just like other plaintiffs, DUI victims have legal rights to protection and compensation for damages and injuries caused by auto accidents through the services of an accident lawyer in Denver. Moreover, criminal convictions can provide evidence of negligence in such cases.
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, there’s increased use of marijuana by Colorado drivers. In 2007, drivers who were suspected to be under the influence of drugs tested positive for marijuana. They made up 28% of all the suspected drivers. In 2008, the figure shot up to 43%, 45% in 2009 and 58% in 2010.
According to a local police, Sgt. Mike Bell, “What we’re seeing is an increase of, probably, marijuana use in the car. There’s a definite increase in drivers using medical marijuana as an excuse. However, they have nothing to do with the drug.”
Over 16% of all fatal auto accidents that took place in Colorado between 2007 and 2010 involved drivers under the influence of drugs. Drugged driving can lead to serious consequences on the highways and state streets in terms of fatalities.
These fatalities lead to serious spinal cord and brain injuries or even lifelong impacts on passengers, motorists and pedestrians.
Although the use of medical marijuana is legal, it can cause intoxication for those behind the wheel. Therefore, drivers under the influence of drugs must compensate victims for injuries, damages or even death caused in case of a fatality.
Drivers involved in crashes should look out for incoherent speech, red or glassy eyes or the smell of cannabis in other drivers as signs of drug use. Drivers that notice any of these signs should make notes for use when informing law enforcement officers or making statements.
Evidence of Drug Use by Colorado Drivers
Evidence of drugs and intoxication in the blood of drivers are two different things. Drivers who test positive for drugs upon suspicion of being intoxicated might have difficulties when it comes to blame evaluation. Employers usually test their injured professional drivers involved in crashes for drugs.
Even if a driver uses drugs off-job and wasn’t responsible for causing a fatality, he or she risks being fired and losing wages, if traces of drugs are found in the body system.
Accident Lawyer in Denver
Such drivers and other victims of auto or truck accidents can seek the services of an accident lawyer in Denver for rights protection and filing for compensation. The Bendinelli Law Firm offers complimentary consultations and our friendly staff are available to discuss the details of your case.
More than 330,000 commercial trucking accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), occur every year in the U.S. and these crashes result in thousands of death and injuries on a yearly basis.
Crashes involving commercial trucks like tractor trailers, semi trucks, box trucks, delivery vans or 18-wheelers, and small passenger vehicles usually see occupants of the latter vehicles sustain the worst kind of injuries in the accidents.
This is where a Denver truck accident attorney comes in to help victims navigate the legalities of filing a claim for the injuries or damages incurred.
Top 4 Causes of Commercial Accidents in Denver, Colorado
There are several causes of commercial trucking accidents, just like in the case of car crashes. Although truck drivers are usually at fault and the major cause of trucking fatalities, there are other factors that can lead to serious road crashes.
- DUI – is a major cause of road accidents. Drivers use stimulants to keep awake for prolonged periods on the road. Any mishap or error on the part of a truck driver under influence can easily cause a crash due to the heavy nature of commercial vehicles.
- Distraction – emailing, texting, chatting on social networks, surfing the internet, using the GPS device, drinking, eating, reading books, using a road map, changing music or even watching a DVD while driving can cause distraction. The moment of distraction is enough to cause an accident.
- Drowsiness – it is common for truck drivers to overstretch their load delivery goals or mileage to improve their pay scales. As a result, many truck drivers skip critical breaks to rest, forge log books and fail to get enough sleep for prolonged periods.
Fatigue is as good as drunk driving and can cause serious fatalities.
- Poor Maintenance of Vehicles – trucks, just like cars, require regular maintenance for optimal performance. Oil changes and maintenance services done on brakes and transmission systems are meant to keep vehicles in good working condition.
Failure to carry out such routine maintenance means vehicles can fail on the road. This can lead to serious fatal crashes.
Other Causes – defective engine components, poor road designs, faulty tires, poor weather conditions and other motorists failing to follow driving best practices can also cause fatalities.
Denver Truck Accident Attorney
All victims of car or commercial trucking accidents have legal rights and insurance companies do not always act in your best interest. A Denver truck accident attorney can help protect the rights of accidents victims, helping file claim for injuries and damages caused. Contact the Bendinelli Law Firm for a complimentary consultation to discuss your case.
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), more than 26,000 people are arrested for drunk driving incidents in Colorado every year. Unfortunately, the drunk drivers police officers don’t catch are responsible for more than 150 fatal traffic crashes where alcohol played a key factor. By those numbers, drunk driving accounts for more than 30% of all traffic fatalities in Colorado.
While researching this alarming trend, CDOT discovered that males ages 21-35, a key DUI demographic, do not believe in “buzzed driving.” In short, they think it is acceptable to have “just a few drinks” before getting on the road, if they’re not visibly or noticeably impaired. What they don’t realize is that alcohol affects everyone differently, and any amount of intoxication is still against the law.
Last year during this time, CDOT launched a campaign called “A Few Can Still Be Dangerous,” to remind drivers that any and all impairment on the road can still affect a driver’s vision, judgement, and reaction time.
As part of the campaign, CDOT is encouraging drivers to use modern technology for additional safety options. For example, personal breathalyzers are now widely available, and some even attach directly to the driver’s smartphone. Last Labor Day weekend, CDOT employees hosted an event that allowed bar patrons to test their intoxication levels using these devices. They hoped the the event would encourage responsible alcohol use, and cut down on the number of Labor Day DUIs. The event attracted more than 3500 people. They also encouraged use of Uber and Lyft, ridesharing companies that are often more convenient than traditional cabs.
Unfortunately, warnings and education are not enough to deter repeat offenders, who often struggle with alcohol addiction. According to the Denver Post, one in three drivers arrested for DUI has a previous DUI arrest. In a state that has almost 30,000 drunk driving arrests every year, this can amount to 10,000 repeat offenders on the road at any given moment. In a three-year span, police re-arrested 5,679 people who had two or more DUI arrests, and 84 offenders had ten or more.
Is DUI a Felony in Colorado?
For many years, Colorado was one of the only four states that did not have a felony DUI offense. It was nearly impossible to ban repeat offenders from the road permanently. If the driver caused an accident, he or she would only be charged with a misdemeanor, even if the innocent victim was severely injured.
However, the Governor, John Hickenlooper, signed a felony DUI bill into law in 2015. The event took place in Wheat Ridge at Lifeloc Technologies, a manufacturing company. Family members and victims of DUI accidents, as well as law-makers who put pressure for stern action to be taken against DUI drivers, were present.
According to the Democrat, “The government world is measured in steps. You rarely get big change. However, this is a pretty big step.”
The law took effect later in August last year (2015) and makes drunk driving a felony. Every time a driver is charged for the fourth time for DUI, he faces up to 6 years behind bars as punishment. Previously, Colorado gave drivers misdemeanor charges with a maximum of one year imprisonment as punishment.
Although only a small fraction of the offenders will possibly get jailed for accidents that result from DUI, the increase in expenses incurred by prisons and judicial systems will see about $20 million spent in the first 3 years.
According to one of the people in attendance, who lost 3 family members in a drunken-driving accident, after the signing of the bill, “It is a bittersweet feeling. I feel like I’ve been putting off my need to grieve and I know that after today, it will hit me hard, knowing this is now over.”
Drunk drivers don’t just endanger their own lives, but also put everyone on the road at risk. If the driver has been warned repeatedly, their actions move from negligence to outright defiance of the law and complete disregard for the safety of others. In these cases, criminal laws may not be enough.
Personal Injury Attorney Denver
When criminal laws fall short, a Denver personal injury attorney can help you get justice. Civil lawsuits offer a crucial legal alternative for victims, allowing them to recoup losses, and hold reckless drivers personally accountable.
If you have lost a loved one to a drunk driver, or been seriously injured yourself, schedule a free consultation with Bendinelli Law Firm. Our experienced legal staff knows the law inside and out, and we can help you get justice while protecting future drivers from unnecessary pain and suffering.
Accidents or collisions involving semi-trucks carrying hazardous materials increase the possibility of other drivers being injured. Flammable materials can explode, launching projectiles into the air and into other lanes of traffic. Toxic chemicals are released, polluting the air, affecting nearby drivers and first responders. Depending on the damage, drivers can wait for hours for these scenes to clear. In worst case scenarios, drivers can face serious injury or even death.
How Are Hazmat Drivers Trained?
Driving semi-trucks containing hazardous materials is a dangerous job. This is why drivers are required to carry a specific license to prove that they know the rules and risks of what they’re carrying. If a driver misses crucial safety steps, he can endanger not only his own life, but also the lives of everyone around him.
Anyone transporting hazardous materials must adhere to Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) set forth by the federal government. Drivers are usually trained in 3 areas:
- Recognizing and identifying hazardous materials
- Safety training and emergency procedures
- Function specific training that is directly applicable to the employee’s current job
Hazmat employers are responsible for training their hazmat employees. Their training covers subjects like proper labeling, protective packaging, and hazard communication. These may seem trivial, but correctly identifying hazardous materials and packaging them securely is the first step to making sure that they are handled properly.
There are also additional trainings drivers must complete if the hazmat in transit surpasses the Materials of Trade regulations, namely: function-specific, general awareness, security awareness and safety as well as passing a written test.
Another important aspect of safety is incident reporting. Hazmat employees are required to document any incident with hazardous materials to the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), a faction of the US Department of Transportation. They keep record of any instance where proper safety procedures were not followed. This can include inadequate or improper packaging, problems occurring during loading and unloading, inadequate blocking, or securing of packages within transport vehicles. All of these issues can create safety concerns down the road.
I Was Hurt by a Hazmat Truck! Who Is Responsible?
Even if the driver is present when the vehicle crashes, he may not be fully responsible for the damage involving the hazardous material. Breakdowns earlier in the process can play a crucial role in the overall result. An item may have been damaged during loading, or a hazmat facility may have mislabeled inventory, causing it to be transported in dangerous conditions. If an innocent driver is injured in the accident, he or she may have trouble determining who is really at fault.
Trucking companies work with their insurance providers to minimize culpability for their drivers, their trucks, and their clients. If you were injured in an accident that involved hazardous materials, you need to speak with an attorney who knows the law, and can hold big trucking companies responsible.
Trucking Accident Attorney Denver
Contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Bendinelli Law firm for a free consultation. We can provide you with legal options and crucial resources to help you build your case. Our truck accident attorneys know how to battle the big guys, so let us work for you.
In June, supporters will present the Right Size plan to the City Parks Board, with the hope of improving safety for pedestrians near Colorado College.
Right now, Cascade Street has four lanes of traffic, two in each direction. However, drivers and pedestrians alike have voiced concerns about safety, citing limited visibility. Students have said they get nervous when crossing, because they have to worry about multiple driver viewpoints. Even if the first car sees a person crossing, the second car may not have time to stop.
The Right Size proposal would convert the outer lanes into bike lanes, leaving one lane in each direction. This would create more protected space for pedestrians and cyclists, while streamlining traffic. Supporters say small changes like this could help save lives, especially in an area with so much foot traffic.
The proposal also details plans to install two median openings in the area, along with additional landscaping. City Council is expected to make their final vote on July 26. If Right Size passes, the street could see changes immediately, before the end of Summer 2016.
Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way?
In most cases, pedestrians on or near the road always have the right of way. Drivers have a responsibility to protect pedestrians on the road, and pedestrians are expected to be vigilant and exercise good judgement. When either side fails in their duty, the results can be tragic.
So far, in 2016, 28 pedestrians have been killed in Colorado. Road improvements and smart construction can help keep them safe, but the easiest way to prevent collisions is for both sides to pay close attention, especially at night.
For drivers, the most important things to remember are:
- Obey the speed limit, especially in school zones and in neighborhoods where there are children present.
- At crosswalks, stop far enough back to allow cars in other lanes to see pedestrians as well. Never pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk.
- Avoid distractions like phones and food, especially in populated areas. Something as simple as changing the radio can cause you to take your eyes off the road at crucial moments.
Pedestrians play a role in safety too. They are responsible for:
- Cross the street at a designated crosswalk or lighted intersection whenever possible.
- Help drivers see you at night by wearing light colors or reflective clothing, and carry a flashlight. Never assume drivers can see you.
- Avoid phones or headphones. These distractions can keep you from noticing approaching lights and other important details.
Personal Injury Attorney Denver
Pedestrians are the road’s most vulnerable users. If a distracted driver has hurt or killed your loved one, you may need help holding him accountable. The right attorney can be a crucial ally during tough times, providing important options and legal strategy. For a free consultation on your pedestrian auto accident, speak with a licensed personal injury attorney at Bendinelli Law Firm. We know how Colorado laws protect pedestrians, and we can help you get justice.
At some point during our lifetime, everyone will need to submit some kind of insurance claim—whether it’s for homeowner, auto or medical insurance. Accidents, illnesses and natural disasters are, unfortunately, a part of life. Having to go through those things is stressful, demoralizing, and sometimes heartbreaking.
To make matters worse, there are some insurance companies who refuse to process and pay legitimate claims. This is called “insurance company bad faith”.
Insurance Company Bad Faith — What Is It?
Insurance companies are notorious for trying to get out of paying claims, and sometimes they have legitimate reasons for denying claims. However, there are some companies who will do absolutely anything to get out of having to pay out to their customers.
When an insurance company does this and the claim is a valid one, their actions are considered unreasonable, deceptive, dishonest and even fraudulent. It is against Colorado law and, according to AmericanBar.org, if the insured takes the insurance company to court, a jury could find them guilty of negligent activities.
Bad faith is legally considered a breach of contract. Therefore, the only person who can take the insurance company to court is the insured; no other third-party is allowed to do this. A case can only be made between the two parties that have a contractual agreement—the insurer and the insured.
Insurance Company Bad Faith Actions — 5 Ways It’s Committed
You deserve fair treatment by your insurance company. If you feel like you might be a victim of a bad faith insurance company, you may very well be correct in your assumption.
Below is a list of 5 of the most common ways insurance companies go about committing bad faith. We think that the more educated and aware you are of how some insurance companies try to get out of paying claims, the better equipped you’ll be to fight them.
- Refusing/failing to investigate the claim thoroughly and promptly
- Unreasonably delaying a claim payment to the insured
- Denying benefits that are clearly outlined in the insurance policy, thereby denying payment on a claim
- Being unreasonable in interpreting and translating policy language
- Refusing to reimburse you for what you are owed from the insurance company or refusing to settle their case with you.
If your insurer is guilty of committing bad faith, you have some options. You can negotiate with them and come up with a settlement agreement, give up on the case altogether, or hire an attorney to evaluate your case and fight for you.
According to Colorado law, when insurance companies are found guilty of bad faith by the court system, they could end up owing the insured up to twice the amount of the claim in penalties, in addition to the amount of the claim. Penalties that might need to be paid include:
- Damages for emotional distress
- Losses incurred
- Punitive damages (if the insured is found guilty of gross misconduct)
- Attorney’s fees.
The goal with rewards/settlements to the insured like this is to protect those who purchase insurance and prevent insurance companies from doing “whatever it takes” to avoid claim payments.
Protect Yourself from a Bad Faith Insurance Company
You should never try dealing with a bad faith insurance company because it usually leads to nothing more than stress and frustration. Instead, contact a personal injury law firm, like Bendinelli Law in Denver, if you think you’re a victim of bad faith. Insurance companies are more likely to take you and your claim seriously if you have an attorney who has experience in these types of cases.
We are happy to review your claim and paperwork and see what we can do to help get your claim settled to your satisfaction. Our team has the expertise necessary to determine whether bad faith has truly been committed. And, if it has, we have the experience and skills needed to fight and win for your right to settlement.
This month is Motorcycle Awareness Month in Colorado and the Department of Transportation is reminding drivers to be safe. In 2015, motorcycle fatalities in Colorado reached triple figures―the highest they have ever been in the state. The Department recorded 106 deaths.
This figure is an 11.7% percent increase from 2014 and a massive 20% increase from 2013. With these fatalities on the rise, the Department of Transportation has launched an awareness campaign to encourage both experienced and new riders to take part in safety training courses.
Motorcycle Fatalities in Colorado Spark Awareness Campaign
The safety training course is aimed at teaching riders the necessary skills required to keep themselves safe on the road. Being able to stop quickly, navigate obstacles and plan emergency escape routes are all a part of riding a motorcycle. Further details about the campaign can be found on the Colorado Department of Transportation website.
In addition to the Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month campaign, and as bikers get ready for the summer riding season, the Department of Transportation is launching its recent variation of the popular and award-wining Ride Wise campaign to promote rider training. Messages such as “train for the wind, before you ride like it” and “live free, die old,” make up the latest campaign. The Department has also published geographic locations and population segments of motorcycle fatalities in Colorado. The whole idea is that motorcyclists become aware of the benefits of motorcycle safety training courses and take action to enroll in a course.
The Colorado Motorcycle Operator Safety Training program is made up of 12 vendors across Colorado that offer courses for different riding abilities and skill levels. The course includes classroom education and real-life application so that riders are able to develop safe riding habits and learn to be better prepared to react in dangerous situations as quickly as possible.
A Look at the Campaign Tactics
So what tactics are the department using to build awareness?
They are concentrating their efforts right at the start of the riding season with media including billboards, digital advertising, and online videos. The Department has also partnered with various dealerships in an attempt to reach out to riders as they take to their bikes this season. All the tactics are aimed at pointing riders to the Department’s website where riders can find and enroll for certified training courses throughout Colorado.
What The Statistics Show
Preliminary data has shown that of the 106 deaths that occurred in 2015, an overwhelming 78% of fatalities were between 16 – 55 years old and 94% of those who died were male. What’s more, El Paso, Denver, and Jefferson counties also saw higher fatality rates which accounted for just under half of the crash locations.
According to Patrick Rice, a Colorado State Patrol Trooper, many motorcycle related incidents occur because riders are not driving within their ability. A mere split-second lapse of judgement can lead to the loss of lives. Trooper Rice has also been reported as mentioning that even though helmets are not a requirement when riding a motorcycle, they can make the difference between life and death.
Do You Require the Services of a Motorcycle Injury Attorney in Denver?
Founding Partner, Marco F. Bendinelli and his son Julian M. Bendinelli are both experienced motorcycle riders and they understand the challenges of riding on Colorado roadways. They also understand the challenges of representing victims of Colorado motorcycle accidents.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a motorcycle accident, contact the experienced motorcycle injury attorneys in Denver at the Bendinelli Law Firm. They will help you obtain the best outcome for your motorcycle injury case.