What to Do After a Dirt Bike Accident
Dirt biking is a popular pastime in Colorado for locals and tourists alike. The state’s natural beauty and an abundance of trails for all skill levels make it one of the top destinations for dirt biking in the country. Like other off-roading vehicles, however, dirt biking is not without risks. Let’s take a look at factors that might contribute to a dirt bike accident, and when you should seek legal advice for your injuries.
Colorado’s Dirt Bike Regulations
Dirt bikes fall under the category of “off-highway vehicles,” or OHVs. Other examples of OHVs include three-wheelers, ATVs, surplus military vehicles, and dune buggies. Colorado’s current regulations regarding OHVs are:
- All OHVs operating on public trails and land in Colorado must be registered each year with the state. Registration fee is around $25, and stickers must be prominently displayed when in an OHV staging area or on appropriate trails.
- Out-of-state dirt bikes must also have a current Colorado OHV use permit, prominently displayed.
Local ordinances may require the use of certain safety equipment and/or that the rider carry additional documentation. This includes:
- A driver’s license
- Liability insurance
- Seatbelts and/or child restraint systems
- Eye protection
- Helmets for riders 18 years and younger (similar to motorcycle laws in Colorado)
Be sure to check with your destination’s specific rules and regulations regarding the use of dirt bikes. If you are using your dirtbike in a competition at a specific track, check the location’s website or call ahead of time to make sure you have their required safety equipment.
Common Causes of a Dirt Bike Accident in Colorado
Despite adhering to state and local regulations and taking proper precautions, dirt bike accidents can still occur. Some of the most common factors leading to dirt bike accidents include:
Driver error: the driver may be inexperienced on a dirt bike, causing him or her to make a decision that leads to an accident. For example, a new rider may not know how to navigate particularly sharp curves or jumps.
Intoxication: it goes without saying that driving while intoxicated can cause an accident. Accidents involving dirt bikes and drugs/alcohol are not uncommon, as even small amounts can impair reaction times and judgment.
Mechanical Failures: dirt bikes go through a lot, navigating rough terrain that can wear parts down much more quickly than a street legal vehicle. Mechanical failures, such as faulty brakes, tire blowouts, or worn out bearings can all contribute to an accident.
Most Common Dirt Bike Accident Injuries
The most common injuries reported by emergency departments treating dirt bike riders include:
- Fractures (especially of the collarbone, wrist, ankles, and knee)
- ACL tears
- Shoulder injuries, such as joint dislocation and labral tears
How to Prevent Dirt Bike Injuries
You can’t always prevent a dirt bike accident; but you can take steps to significantly minimize your risk of severe injury.
Wear a Helmet
Unfortunately, there is no minimum age for dirt biking. Unsurprisingly, teenagers and children are at the greatest risk of injury when operating these vehicles. A medical survey of children admitted to the ED over a 10 year period found that 61 percent of the children had brain injuries.
While the study did not specify whether or not the children were wearing helmets at the time of injury, we know that helmets significantly reduce the likelihood of brain injury. Like motorcycles, helmets are only required for dirt bike riders under the age of 18 in Colorado. Nevertheless, it is strongly recommended that those over age 18 wear one as well.
Know When To Ride
Riding at night when visibility is low can increase your chance of an accident. You may not be able to spot an irregularity or hazard on the trail that would be plain to see in daylight.
Ride With a Friend
When on trails, never ride alone. If you are in an accident and lose consciousness or or immobilized due to a fracture, your friend can call for help.
Maintain Your Bike
Regularly inspect your bike and make repairs as needed. Don’t attempt to do them yourself unless you are confident in your skill level.
Ride Within Your Skill Level
Injuries are far more common (especially among children and teens) on competitive tracks as opposed to trails. Competition, i.e. motocross, should only be attempted when you have practiced enough to do so safely. That being said, trails are no safer for inexperienced riders. Start slow, practice, and build your skills before going off-roading.
When To Contact an Attorney for a Dirt Bike Accident
In certain cases, your dirt bike accident may not have been your fault. For example, if a mechanical failure occurred while the bike was under warranty or after you’d had the vehicle professionally serviced, another party may be liable.
Likewise, if a designated trail was not properly maintained by the owner or owners, you may want to speak to a personal injury attorney.
If you have been in a dirt bike accident in Colorado, contact Dave Roth with the Roth Group. Dave is a top personal injury attorney who works diligently on behalf of his clients. Call or go online today to schedule a free consultation.