When you think of auto accidents in Colorado, you probably imagine that they are the result of bad driving, negligence, distracted driving and even Mother Nature. And you’d be right. However, did you know that there are common causes of car accidents in Colorado outside of those results? Yes, there are actions that people repeatedly make, that repeatedly cause accidents.

It’s almost counter-intuitive: if we know certain behaviors cause accidents, why do we keep doing them? Very good question.

In this article, I thought I’d share 3 common causes of car accidents in Colorado.

Running a Stop Sign

The other day, I saw a driver just blow through a stop sign at a four-way stop. Worse, she proceeded to do the same thing all the way down Seventh Avenue, running stop sign after stop sign as though they were just gentle suggestions that she could ignore.

4 way stop sign in neighborhood

Clearly, she was consciously deciding to run these stop signs but, in my experience, it’s more common for people to run stop signs because they’re simply not paying attention. Either way, the consequences can be life-altering – for the inattentive driver and for any victims that she hits – because the injuries can be significant.

Typically, the inattentive driver misses a stop sign and runs right into traffic that is going 40 miles per hour, sometimes more. Either she gets t-boned by an unsuspecting victim or the negligent driver t-bones someone else.

Sometimes, the negligent driver comes out into traffic and clips another driver, throwing their car off balance and even causing the victim’s car to flip and roll. Either party – the negligent driver and the victim – can end up with broken wrists and ankles. Because airbags often deploy, they may also sustain broken noses and bloody lips.

Here’s a little-known fact: Women who have been hit by airbags often sustain broken sternums and often those injuries aren’t caught at the hospital.  Even when the hospital does a chest x-ray to look for torn heart valves, they miss the broken sternum.  I’m telling you, clients report that this is one of the most awful, painful injuries that they face; they can’t even sneeze without excruciating pain!

Legally, you’d think this would be a slam-dunk. Not always.

Now, on the legal side of things, you’d think this would be a slam-dunk. Someone ran a stop sign and caused damages and injuries! Case closed, right?  Nope, not always.

Sometimes the negligent driver tries to claim that she wasn’t at fault, that she didn’t run the stop sign. Then it turns into she said/he said and, sometimes, an insurance company will fight for their driver even when it’s obvious she was at fault.

Lesson? Get witnesses! Witnesses can help you prove that the other driver came out of nowhere and that you had the right of way.

Also, take lots of photos, especially if you see that the other driver hit the brakes at the last minute and made skid marks on the road. Get shots of those skid marks.

And remember: never run a stop sign on purpose… you never know who could be watching!

Rear-End Accidents

When you think of rear-end car accidents, most of us think, “fender bender.” But we recently had a case in which a person who was driving a Jeep Cherokee got hit from behind by a Ford utility van and the Jeep’s rear-end was pushed all the way up into the front seats!

Air Bag Deployed

Rear-end accidents can be horrific.

And what’s the main cause of rear-end accidents?  Distracted driving. People are texting, playing with the radio, eating… you name it. They just aren’t paying attention to the road in front of them and they ram into an unsuspecting driver. These car accidents occur at low rates of speed, such as 5 to 10 miles per hour, all the way up to very high rates of speed.

The injuries from these accidents vary as much as the speeds but typically involve the low back, shoulders and neck.

What should you do if you’re rear-ended by another car?  Take as many pictures at the scene as you possibly can. Take pictures of your car AND the other driver’s car. This is very, very important. When someone else hits you, typically they have hit their brakes and the nose of their car dives down below your bumper. This can mean that your car doesn’t look that bad (and their attorney could say that you’re overstating the impact). But if you get pictures of the other driver’s car, typically that car has a much different story to tell.

And never, ever walk away without filing a police report!  Even if neither car looks that bad, you must call the police and you must get the insurance and driver’s license information from the other driver.  If you don’t call the police, there will be no ticket and the other driver’s insurance company will probably accept liability for damage to your vehicle but they will fight all other harms and losses that you incurred.

Finally, don’t be a distracted driver. You don’t want to hurt another person just because your phone rang.

Left-Hand Turns in Front of Oncoming Traffic

Left turnAnd now the mac-daddy of “common causes of car accidents in Colorado:” the left-hand turn across oncoming traffic. I bet a huge percentage of Colorado accidents are caused by people who inch out into an intersection from their turn lane, hoping to catch a small window in oncoming traffic, gunning it as they’re thinking, “I think I can make it! I think I can make it!”

If this is you, read on…

A friend called me this morning because she had witnessed a horrible car accident. She was shaken up, describing it as “violent” and that it “looked like one of the cars exploded.”

Now, this sounds like it could be a rare, extraordinary type of accident but it wasn’t. In fact, it was caused by (you guessed it) a left-hand turn in front of oncoming traffic.

My friend described the accident like this: A southbound car on Colorado Boulevard was in the left-hand turn lane and decided to turn left onto 8th Avenue. A northbound car, whose driver had no time to react, slammed into the turning car and then veered off into a nearby bus stop. The turning car “exploded” from the impact. Car parts, glass and liquids scattered across the intersection.

In the majority of cases, the person making the left-hand turn is found to be at fault.

I have just one reaction to this: If you’re in a left-hand turn lane and you’re thinking, “I can probably make it,” don’t turn!

We see this type of accident all the time. In the majority of cases, the person making the left-hand turn is found to be at fault. The injuries from this kind of accident are usually pretty bad for both drivers. For the driver who was going straight, it’s the equivalent of hitting a wall. We see lots of broken wrists and broken ankles, as well as much more severe injuries.

What should you do if someone turns left in front of you and you hit them? (Assuming you are not too hurt.) Gather witnesses and take pictures! You need to have witnesses who can corroborate that you had the green light and that the person making the left-hand turn shouldn’t have gone.

But again, I can’t urge you enough to not be the driver who causes a car accident like this. If you aren’t sure you can make the turn, don’t turn!

If you have questions about this article, or if you’ve been the victim of an accident and you need help, please call me.


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