Waivers don’t shield ski resorts that violate state law from liability, Colorado Supreme Court rules Miller v. Crested Butte, LLC

The pages of fine print that skiers and snowboarders must agree to when hitting the slopes in Colorado — waivers of liability — do not protect ski resorts when resorts violate state laws or regulations, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The ruling, handed down in the case of a 16-year-old girl who fell from a ski lift at Crested Butte Mountain Resort and was paralyzed two years ago, likely ends a years-long push by the ski industry to use waivers to shield resorts against almost all lawsuits, even in cases where ski areas violated state law, experts said.

“It’s a sea change, in terms of ski areas’ responsibilities and consumers’ ability to be protected from ski areas’ negligence,” said Evan Banker, a personal injury attorney at Denver firm Chalat Hatten & Banker. “…From a consumer protection standpoint, it’s huge. Because liability breeds responsibility.”

In their 5-2 decision, the Colorado Supreme Court justices considered a lawsuit brought by Annie Miller and her father, Michael Miller, over Annie’s 30-foot fall from a lift at Crested Butte, which is owned by Vail Resorts. The father and daughter from Oklahoma boarded the Paradise Express chairlift, a four-seat, high-speed lift at the resort, on March 16, 2022.

Annie couldn’t get properly seated, and grabbed the chairlift to keep from falling. Her father and others began to yell for the lift to be stopped as she was dragged forward, but the lift continued with Annie hanging from the chair and her father trying to pull her back to safety.

Eventually, Annie fell and landed on her back. Even then, the lift did not stop, and Michael Miller was forced to ride to the top and ski down to his daughter, who suffered severe injuries and was paralyzed after the fall.

Michael Miller brought a negligence lawsuit against Crested Butte, arguing that the resort employees should have stopped the lift well before Annie fell and that failing to do so violated Colorado’s Ski Safety Act and the Passenger Tramway Safety Act. A lower court ruled much of Miller’s claim was invalid, and he appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Monday’s ruling partially reversed the lower-court decision and allows Miller to continue to pursue the negligence lawsuit against the resort.

Sara Huey, a spokeswoman for Vail Resorts, declined to comment on the ruling because the Millers’ lawsuit is ongoing. In court filings, attorneys for Vail Resorts argued that the lawsuit misstated the precedent in Colorado around private liability waivers, which skiers and snowboarders must agree to when buying lift tickets and passes.

“Colorado courts have upheld private recreational waiver agreements, even where the plaintiff could have (or did) point to a statute regulating the activity,” attorney Michael Hofmann wrote. “The existence of recreational safety regulation has never been enough to prohibit private parties from agreeing that a waiver defense will be available.”

“Big victory for ski safety”

More broadly, the state high court’s decision likely ends efforts by the ski industry to expand the protections that waivers of liability give ski areas.

“This was a big victory for ski safety in Colorado,” said Bruce Braley, who represented the Millers. “It says unequivocally that ski areas cannot force skiers and snowboarders to sign away their rights to protection under the statutes and regulations that govern the ski industry in Colorado.”

The ruling turns back the clock on liability in some Colorado ski accident cases, Banker said.

“For many, many years… everyone sort of agreed that when you sign that waiver you are waiving claims of negligence, but you can always still make claims if the ski area fails to do the things it is required to by law, like maintaining the lift properly,” Banker said.

But since about 2017, the ski industry has been successfully challenging that understanding through targeted litigation, winning key court cases that strengthened the protection afforded by waivers and pushing to essentially provide complete immunity for anything that could happen at a ski resort unless there was gross negligence, Banker and Braley said.

“So what this has done is change that,” Banker said. “It brings us back to the landscape everyone understood it to be many years ago. Which is, you can waive claims of negligence, but the ski area doesn’t get to avoid its legal responsibility, its responsibility in statute and regulations, by having you sign a waiver.”

Adrienne Saia Isaac, a spokeswoman for the National Ski Areas Association, a Lakewood nonprofit that represents more than 300 sk- area members, said it is “too early to tell how the ruling will affect the Colorado ski industry.”

The association argued in court filings both that the lift operator at Crested Butte was not required to stop the lift in response to Annie Miller’s mishap, and that liability waivers do not allow ski areas to get around statutory regulations.

“While chairlift accidents within the reasonable control of ski area operators will never be eliminated, they are rare,” wrote Brian Birenbach, an attorney in Breckenridge representing the National Ski Areas Association. “This will not change by the continued enforcement of liability waivers in the courts.”

Source:  SHELLY BRADBURY | sbradbury@denverpost.com | The Denver Post

Article: Liability waivers don’t shield Colorado ski resorts that violate law (denverpost.com)

Analyzing injuries, crashes and hit-and-runs at Colorado ski areas

It’s absolutely terrifying what is happening at some of these ski areas.”

CHB mentioned in the Colorado Sun:

April 9th, 2024, Analyzing injuries, crashes and hit-and-runs at Colorado ski areas, By Jason Blevins, Colorado Sun (modified for brevity)

Ura Kim was skiing with her husband and friends at Breckenridge in early January 2019 when she was struck by a young skier and shoved into a tree. [The young skier did not stay at the scene to give his name and address as is required by the Colorado Ski Safety Act].

The Kims called Jim Chalat, a Denver attorney who has represented injured skiers for decades. Chalat filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ura Kim, against a yet-to-be-named skier dubbed John Doe.

The lawsuit was enough to get a judge to sign a subpoena for the ski area’s pass-scanning data. Stephen Kim is a software and data engineer who has worked with statistics for more than 30 years. Kim copied the information into a database and built software to search for a young skier and a parent who fit his profile and rode the chairlift shortly after his wife was hit. Mr. Kim and Jim Chalat narrowed it down to a 12-year-old boy and his parents.  Chalat hired a private investigator who called the parents, the mom replied to the investigator’s question about skiing that day at Breckenridge, saying, “My son did not hit that woman.”

The Kims settled with the family’s insurance company. After a couple years of recovery from a broken jaw and broken wrist, Ura Kim has already skied 82 days this winter. She and her husband no longer ski at Breckenridge. 

When Kim called the Summit County Sheriff’s Office to file a report, he says a deputy told him “we have never caught a hit-and-run person.” 

“Something has to change,” Stephen says. “It’s absolutely terrifying what is happening at some of these ski areas.”

Earlier this year the Summit County Sheriff’s Office did identify a snow biker involved in a hit-and-run that injured two skiers at Keystone. The 50-year-old man was charged with leaving the scene of a collision six days after he struck a man and his daughter, leaving them seriously injured. 

Chalat says his personal injury law firm — Chalat Hatten and Banker — gets hundreds of calls a year from injured skiers. 

Lately, he says, “we are seeing a significant increase in hit-and-run.”

“I find it really disturbing because the sheriff’s departments in ski counties either do not have the resources or they do not have the interest in locating these hit-and-run perpetrators,” Chalat says.

Narciso’s Case

No special relationship between dog owner and child walking on sidewalk. Thus, dog owner did not owe a duty of care to child as a matter of law

Really smart class at Harvard Law School. Professor Jon Hanson, https://lnkd.in/gRyTjmVU invited me back to HLS to talk with his 1L Section 6 Torts class. On October 13, 2023, I presented a study of “Narciso’s Case.” A heart-breaking dart out/animal liability case which occurred in Commerce City, Colorado, in August 2013.

Professor Hanson wrote afterwards, “I want to thank you in writing for all you did to join us and for another stellar and unforgettable presentation.”

In the case Russell Hatten and I represented Narciso. He was then 8-years-old. As Narciso was walking to a nearby playground, two vicious pit bulls were about to attack him by getting over a fence. Scared for his life, Narciso darted out into the street and was run over by a passing van. He was severely injured. We sued the van owner for negligence, and the dog owner. This complex litigation went to the Colorado Court of Appeals, Lopez v. Trujillo,
2016 COA 53, 399 P.3d 750 (2016). On Certiorari, the case went to the Colorado Supreme Court. N.M. by and through Lopez v. Trujillo, 2017 CO 79, 397 P.3d 370 (2017). There, the Court discarded the COA reasoning on foreseeability and instead revived the “misfeasance/nonfeasance” doctrine to support its determination against Narciso on the animal liability claim.

The presentation is supported by a homework assignment to read the Court of Appeals Decision, including the dissent. Then the students were required to answer 7 questions concerning their analysis of the majority and dissenting opinions, from the standpoint as if they were reviewing the COA opinion for Certiorari review; whether they would grant cert.; And next, how would they rule were the case before them as COS justices.

The student responses were furnished to me 24 hours prior to the presentation. The responses points for discussion with the class members.

The presentation was supported by a 53 slide .ppt including contextual statistics and policies derived from NHTSA statistics for pedestrian fatalities and injuries. Additionally, statistics and factual materials regarding pit bull behaviors and incidents throughout the United States. Relevant black letter law was then presented.

Core factual documents from Narciso’s case, including depositions, evidence, photographs, are at the heart of the presentation, along with video from the actual COS and COA oral arguments.

The inspiration for me, along with the privilege of working with Hanson and his team of teaching fellows, came from the thoughtful and engaged students with their remarks, questions, participation and sense of social justice.

Thanks owed as well to Jon Asher, HLS ’71, Emeritus Director of Colorado Legal Services. Also to Denver County Court Judge Alfred Harrell, and his mentee Anna Lodge (DU Sturm 2L) who tested the Beta version.

And finally, deep thanks to Narciso for his own participation. He is now age 18.

$228,000 Jury Verdict for Dog Bite Case

Robert Moreno, age 50, of Denver, CO, owns a residential installation business. On June 15th, 2020, Moreno was installing insulation at a home next the home owned by defendant J.D. age 40. J.D. owned an English Bulldog with which he was walking using a retractable leash.  As J.D. left his home with the dog, it ran towards Moreno and without provocation bit down on his knee and twisted it, tearing Mr. Morenos meniscus. As a result, Mr. Moreno needed surgery on his knee and was unable to work during his recovery. Partner Evan Banker and Russell Hatten represented our clients in this matter. The jury awarded Moreno damages of $228,000, with interest and costs the total judgment was valued at and settled for $301,000. Moreno v. J.D., 2022CV 31398 (District Court, City and County of Denver, Colorado)

$435,000 Jury Verdict for Skier Injured at Steamboat

Quick overview: Our client was descending See Me at Steamboat when he was t-boned on the right side by the defendant. The collision resulted in a fractured hip. This is the first skier/skier collision case tried to verdict in the United States since the Gwyneth Paltrow case. Partner Evan Banker and Russell Hatten represented our clients in this matter. The jury awarded damages of $435,000, With interest and costs the total judgment is expected to exceed $500,000. Foster v. M.B., 2022CV 30020 (Routt County District Court).

Foster v M.B., Routt County District Court, Case No. 2022CV030020 (June 15, 2023).

In this skier v skier case tried by Russell Hatten and Evan Banker, a Routt County jury found 100% liability against the minor defendant who was age 16 at the time of the accident and is referred therefore by his initials “M.B.” 

The jury evaluated the evidence and awarded $173,134.72 for pain and suffering, plus $131,400.00 for economic damages (primarily medical billings) and an equivalent amount, $131,400.00, for physical impairment and/or disfigurement.  Total $435,934.72. Following entry of judgment, the insurer for M.B. paid approximately $525,000 to settle the judgment plus costs and interest, closing the case.

Moral of the story… this was the first full trial of a skier collision case since the highly publicized case of Sanders v Paltrow tried in Summit County, Utah.  Avoiding all of the nonsense, Russell and Evan focused on the facts as set out in the contemporaneous accident reports, the forensic evidence, the medical evidence and imaging showing the fractures and complexity of the care. The weight of the evidence established that M.B. was the uphill skier with plenty of time and space to avoid the collision.  The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff notwithstanding some belief that the Paltrow case had reduced skier collision cases to daytime cable-t.v., soap opera comedy. 

Facts:

On December 27, 2021, both Mr. Foster (age 67) and M.B., were skiing at Steamboat on “See Me.” Foster was a former a NCAA Alpine Skiing Champion, who had skied on the varsity ski team at the University of Colorado. Foster was skiing down the skier’s far right side making short, tight slalom turns at a skiing speed of 10- to 12-miles per hour.

“See Me,” is a “Most difficult,”/Black Diamond trail. It was 50 yards wide with a 17° inclination at the point of the incident. Based upon Steamboat Ski Patrol photographs, GPS measurements, video and aerial photography, our ski safety engineer, Mr. Patrick Kelley, determined that there was more than 200-yards of open visibility on See Me above the area of the collision.

Foster testified that M.B. hit him from uphill at a high rate of speed. M.B. reported to the Steamboat Ski Patrol that he and Mr. Foster, “were both skiing down the mountain taking turns and I was kind of mapping out his turns and I hit a patch of ice right as he made a little bit longer turn than I expected and I just couldn’t get out of the way.”

In the collision, Foster took the brunt of the of the force on his uphill leg – at his right hop. Foster sustained a right proximal femur fracture. He was evacuated from the scene by tobaggon.  M.B. was uninjured.

Mr. Foster was taken to Yampa Valley hospital in Steamboat where an orthopedist repaired his fracture with an intramedullary nail and two fixator screws.  Although the fracture seemed to be healing, in June 2022 Mr. Foster experienced a refracture of the injury.  A second surgery was done with the placement of a more robust plate, screws, and fixation.  There was no claim and no evidence that the Steamboat doctor’s treatment was below standard.  The severity of the fracture, was significant.  A re-fracture was a risk to be expected.  No evidence was presented that Foster failed to follow advice or did anything to cause the re-fracture. 

Foster’s doctor testified that Foster now walks with a limp, he has not returned to skiing, and is limited in his activity. For a former college ski racer, his life was changed. The risk of yet another re-injury limits him.  He has not returned to hiking, riding outdoors, or other activities to which he looked forward during retirement. 

Legal issues: The Court instructed the jury under the Colorado Ski Safety Act:

At the time of the occurrence in question in this case the Colorado Ski Safety Act was in effect.  The Colorado Ski Safety Act states:

Each skier solely has the responsibility for knowing the range of his own ability to negotiate any ski slope or trail and to ski within the limits of such ability… the risk of a skier/skier collision is neither an inherent risk nor a risk assumed by a skier in an action by one skier against another.”  Colo. Rev. Stat. § 33-44-109(1).

Each skier has the duty to maintain control of his speed and course at all times when skiing and to maintain a proper lookout so as to be able to avoid other skiers and objects. However, the primary duty shall be on the person skiing downhill to avoid collision with any person or objects below him.” Colo. Rev. Stat. § 33-44-109(2). 

A violation of these statutes constitutes negligence. If you find such a violation, you may only consider it if you also find that it was a cause of the claimed injuries, damages, and losses.

Each skier solely has the responsibility for knowing the range of his own ability to negotiate any ski slope or trail and to ski within the limits of such ability

Each skier has the duty to maintain control of his speed and course at all times when skiing and to maintain a proper lookout so as to be able to avoid other skiers and objects.

the primary duty shall be on the person skiing downhill to avoid collision with any person or objects below him.

A violation of these statutes constitutes negligence

Settlement Offer:
On April 4, 2023 Defendant made a statutory offer of settlement in the amount of $350,000. Foster turned down the offer.


Expert witnesses:

               Medicine:

Orthopedics – Dr. Michael Shingles, D.O., of Lansing Michigan for Plaintiff. Dr. Shingles testified by video preservation deposition. He testified as to the anatomy, severity, and treatment for the acute injury, the after care, subsequent re-fracture in June 2022 which Dr. Shingles treated, the reasonableness of the care and medical billings, the cause and repair of the re-fracture, and the impairment, pain and suffering, future prognoses, of Foster.  The evidence given by Dr. Shingles was unrebutted.

On Liability:

Patrick Kelley, P.E.  Patrick is one of the most well-respected accident reconstruction and ski safety experts in the United States.  He testified as to the location and terrain of the accident scene, the forces and vectors of the parties.

Long-time defense expert Seth Bayer, P.E. testified for defendant, but admitted on cross examination that defendant was probably the uphill skier based upon the evidence in the case.

High Number of Deaths Due to Colorado Avalanches in The Past 10 Years

Colorado is a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts, offering some of the best skiing and snowboarding opportunities in the country. However, along with the thrill of the mountains comes the risk of avalanches, which can be deadly. In the past decade, Colorado has seen a significant number of avalanche-related deaths, prompting calls for increased awareness and education around avalanche safety.

According to data from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), there have been 78 avalanche-related fatalities in Colorado since the 2011-2012 winter season. The majority of these deaths occurred during the months of January, February, and March, which are typically the peak months for avalanches.

The 2012-2013 winter season was particularly deadly, with 11 avalanche-related deaths in Colorado. This was largely due to a series of powerful storms that hit the state, causing heavy snowfall and dangerous avalanche conditions. CAIC records show so far this 2022-2023 winter season, there has been 9 avalanche-related deaths in Colorado.

Over the past 10 years, the counties with the highest number of avalanche fatalities in Colorado have been Pitkin, Summit, and Eagle. These counties are home to popular ski resorts such as Aspen, Vail, and Breckenridge, and attract a large number of tourists during the winter months.

The CAIC has been working to improve avalanche safety in Colorado through education and outreach programs. They provide daily avalanche forecasts, as well as training courses and resources for backcountry travelers. In addition, ski resorts and backcountry outfitters are increasingly offering avalanche safety courses and equipment rentals to help visitors stay safe in the mountains.

Despite these efforts, the number of avalanche fatalities in Colorado remains a concern. Experts say that it is important for anyone venturing into the backcountry to be properly equipped and educated on avalanche safety, including carrying appropriate gear such as avalanche beacons, probes, and shovels, and knowing how to use them.

Tips for Safe Winter Driving

Winter driving conditions are dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, 17% of all injury and death traffic accidents occur during winter driving conditions.  It is important to learn how to drive safely in winter conditions.

Snow, ice, sleet, obscured vision, difficult stopping and turning conditions can make for a challenge for motorists. Here are some tips from Chalat Hatten & Banker to help you drive more safely in the winter months.

Prepare

Have the shop test your battery.  Replace it if its failing. Before you drive in winter conditions do a walk around the car.  Check your headlights, both low and hi-beams.  Check your turn signals, brake lights, 4-ways and interior lights.  Newer cars have “Daytime running lights,” or DRL’s. These are essentially full-time low beam illuminations which make it easier to be seen even during daytime hours.  Pack an emergency bag with warm clothes, gloves and hats, a flashlight, and some water and snack foods so you can get by if you are stuck in traffic or stuck in a snowbank. Make sure you have all the essentials in your car in case you get stuck. A snow shovel and a bag of salt/kitty litter can assist you to dig your wheels out of a ditch and give them traction on the snow/ice. Keep a blanket and bottles of water in your car in case you get stuck and are waiting for help. Other things to have in your car include jumper cables, flashlights, spare tire, window washer fluid and a snow scraper, spare clothes, tow rope and flares.

What conditions are your tires in?  We at the firm usually switch to snow tires at Halloween and go back to road tires on Memorial Day.  This is expensive, but its less expensive than an accident. Make sure your tires are in good condition – this is an important part of the “walk around,” look for worn treads, make sure one tire isn’t flatter than the other 3. Consider checking your spare situation.  Some modern cars don’t come with spares or come with small emergency tires only.  Be mentally prepared to change a tire.  Figure out how to get to the spare, the jack and the tire iron/lug wrench, and how to change the tire on your own.

Check your wiper blades both front and if you’re in a station wagon or SUV, the wiper for the back window. Making sure your windshield wipers and defrosters are working is vital to staying safe while driving in the snow. Right maintained windshield wipers are a necessity; there are also extra blades available that are better fitted to help clear snow from your window shield.

Check your window washer fluid.  This is easy, it’s the plastic container just under the hood.

If you are in an EV, make sure you’re charged up before winter driving.  The battery load on your EV is much higher in cold weather, and you’ll see a decrease in range and remaining time if you are not topped off for a charge.

In gasoline or hybrid cars, the same holds true.  You will see a decrease in MPG because of stop and go traffic, a high load on the engine and battery, and lost traction. Fill it up before you start your journey.

Decrease Your Speed While Driving

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 24% of annual weather-related auto crashes occur on snowy, icy, or slushy roads. And more than 1,300 people are killed on icy or snowy road conditions annually. The most significant thing to do when driving on slippery roads is to slow down. Stopping on slippery roads may take 2 to 10 times longer to stop compared to stopping on a dry road. Be sure to increase your following distance of another vehicle to 8 – 10 seconds.

Don’t Not Use Cruise Control

You should never use cruise control when driving in winter conditions. You want to be able to have manual control over your vehicle, having cruise control on reduces the driver’s reaction time if you happen to hit a patch of ice and can make it more likely to get in an accident.

Be Mindful of Snowplows

Snowplows have the absolute right of way.  Stay back, don’t pass unless there is clearly an open lane on the snowplow’s left. Don’t tailgate a snowplow. Plows drop de-icer and sand to treat Colorado highways during a snowstorm. Drivers who follow too close risk damage to their vehicle from the de-icer and sand. Snowplows can also stop abruptly. Motorists should leave plenty of room (at least 3-4 car lengths from a plow) to avoid a potentially serious collision.  never pass a snowplow on the right. Snowplows are designed to push the snow, slush, and other damaging debris like rocks to the right of a roadway. Attempting to pass a plow on the right could not only damage a vehicle but also obstruct visibility.

THE DENVER CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS AT CHALAT HATTEN & BANKER

For more than three decades, the attorneys at Chalat Hatten & Banker PC have helped individuals and their families obtain justice and compensation after a car accident. If you’ve been injured in a car, truck, pedestrian, bus, or motorcycle accident, please call the car accident attorneys at Chalat Hatten & Banker at 720-809-7382 or send us an email below for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case. We serve clients around the state of Colorado, including Denver, Fort Collins, Boulder, Aurora, Littleton, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo.

Winter Weather Driving Tips: Prepare Your Vehicle | NHTSA

What Are The Safest Cars, SUVs, and Trucks for 2022?

Car buyers who consider safety a must-have feature can now choose from an even greater variety, according to the 2022 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick award list.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released its annual list of cars with top scores in crash tests and other safety evaluations. For the 2022 model year, a total of 101 models qualified for a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award, up from 90 models in 2021, and 64 in 2020. For the Top Safety Pick Plus category, 65 models made the cut in 10 categories, up from 49 models in 2021, and 23 in 2020. Of the 65 Top Safety Pick+ vehicles, 28 sedans and hatchbacks made the list

2022 marks the year with a record number of cars, trucks and SUVs receiving the automotive industry’s most rigorous safety award for their ability to keep drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe. And it comes at a critical time in the wake of record traffic and pedestrian fatalities in 2020 and 2021.

See the full list below.

Notable Highlights: 2022 IIHS Top Safety Picks

Hyundai Motor Group, consisting of Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis, led all manufacturers with 21 total combined, including 11 “plus” award winners. The Volkswagen Group’s Volkswagen and Audi brands received 11 awards, and Volvo with 10.

Last year, the Ram 1500 crew cab was the sole pickup truck to get an IIHS designation. But as pickup trucks grow in popularity and sales, so does the number of those named Top Safety Picks in 2022. This year, the Ram once again makes the list, along with the Ford F-150 (extended cab and crew cab) and surprisingly, the all-new Hyundai Santa Cruz.

Electric vehicle shoppers have more IIHS safety picks to choose from in 2022 as well. All-electric models that earned a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus include the Audi E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, and Volkswagen ID.4.

Additionally, there were several models that made the cut with certain qualifiers. For example, the Genesis G70, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Hyundai Santa Fe made the list but only for models built after a particular month. Others, like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and GLE-Class, made the cut only with optional front crash protection.

HOW ARE IIHS TOP SAFETY PICKS DETERMINED?

Each year, the IIHS conducts tests to determine how vehicles fare in two aspects of safety: crashworthiness and crash avoidance/mitigation. It also evaluates other elements of vehicle safety, such as headlight ratings.

The IIHS awarded winners in 11 size categories, from small cars to large pickups.

To earn Top Safety Pick+ and Top Safety Pick awards, vehicles must earn “Good” ratings in all six standardized IIHS crashworthiness tests:

Additionally, all award winners must offer front crash prevention that earns a “Superior” or “Advanced” rating in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations.

What’s the difference between Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+?

Headlights, a previously overlooked yet very important safety feature, are the differentiator between earning a Top Safety Pick and a Top Safety Pick+ designation. For 2022, Top Safety Pick award winners must offer “Good” or “Acceptable” headlights as an option. Whereas Top Safety Pick+ award winners must have “Good” or “Acceptable” headlights as standard equipment.

The Safest Cars, SUVs, and Trucks for 2022: IIHS

Here’s a look at the safest new cars, SUVs, and trucks on the market, according to IIHS

2022 MODELS EARNING TOP SAFETY PICK

Audi: A4, A5 Sportback, Q8
BMW: 2 Series Gran Coupe, 3 Series, X5
Buick: Encore GX
Ford: Escape, Edge, Mustang Mach-E, F-150 (crew cab and extended cab)
Honda: CR-V
Hyundai: Elantra, Santa Cruz, Sonata, Venue
Kia: Sorento, Soul*, Sportage*, Telluride
Lexus: RX, UX
Lincoln: Aviator, Corsair, Nautilus
Mercedes-Benz: GLC-Class*
Nissan: Sentra
Ram: 1500 (crew cab)*
Subaru: Crosstrek*, Impreza hatchback*
Toyota: Avalon, C-HR, Venza

*Award applies to models equipped with optional front crash prevention technology

2022 MODELS EARNING TOP SAFETY PICK+

Acura: MDX, RDX, TLX
Audi: A6, A6 Allroad, A7, E-Tron, E-Tron Sportback, Q5, Q5 Sportback
Cadillac: XT6
Chevrolet: Trailblazer
Chrysler: Pacifica
Ford: Bronco Sport, Explorer
Genesis: G70 (examples built after June 2021), G80, G90, GV70, GV80
Honda: Accord, Civic (hatchback and sedan), Insight, Odyssey
Hyundai: Nexo, Palisade, Santa Fe, Tucson
Kia: K5, Stinger
Lexus: ES 350, IS
Mazda: Mazda3 (hatchback and sedan), CX-30, CX-5, CX-9
Mercedes-Benz: E-Class*, GLE-Class*
Mitsubishi: Outlander (examples built after June 2021)
Nissan: Altima, Maxima, Murano, Rogue
Subaru: Ascent, Crosstrek Hybrid, Legacy, Outback
Tesla: Model 3, Model Y
Toyota: Camry, Highlander, Sienna
Volkswagen: ID.4
Volvo: C40 Recharge, S60, S60 Recharge, V60 Cross Country, XC40, XC40 Recharge Twin, XC60, XC60 Recharge, XC90, XC90 Recharge

For the list of Top Safety Picks sorted out by category/type/size, visit the IIHS website

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Denver

If you’ve been injured in an auto accident in Colorado contact our car accident lawyers in Denver, Colorado for a free consultation.

Have You Been In A Bicycle Accident?

BICYCLE SAFETY

If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a bicycle accident, please call us. We have extensive experience in bicycle cases. We have represented riders who were injured by negligent drivers in accidents which occurred on city streets as well as on roadways. In the city street cases, we need to prove a municipal code violation, whereas the roadway incidents invoke state law. We have also won cases on behalf of riders who were injured in accidents within City and State parks, cycling events, and bike versus bike crashes. We have experience with the investigation and data collection needed for winning a bicyclist’s case. Our lawyers are knowledgeable about the complex insurance issues in bicycling cases. These will involve auto insurance in the MVA cases, and homeowners’ policies in a dispute between riders. We love to ride ourselves, and from that experience we have a close understanding of the rules and dynamics of bicycling, both on the road and on a trail.

MORE RIDERS ARE ON THE STREETS

Bicycle sales and riding are on the increase since March 2020. Several reasons drive the change. In the pandemic, commuters favor bicycles over public transit. Gyms and recreation centers have been closed or operate at reduced capacity. A bike ride is a good workout. The change also comes from hard times – job loss, collapse of small businesses, juggling school age children at home along with remote work—bicycles are cheap in comparison to the expense of a car. Even before the pandemic, bicycle riding in Denver was on the increase. The 2019 Commuter Survey by the Downtown Denver Partnership showed that 9.2% of Downtown Denver Employees commute by bicycle, 1.0% use a scooter or moped. The bike mode share has doubled since 2013. Young people drive the increase; 14% of Millennials and Gen Z employees’ bike to work. The survey spurred Denver’s build-out of 206 miles of on-street bike lanes to give bicyclists a safe space.

SAFE SPACES ARE NOT ALWAYS SAFE

Subject to common-sense exceptions, “A person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle has all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any” motor vehicle governed by Colorado law and Municipal Ordinances. According to the United States Department of Transportation there were 857 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes nationwide in 2018. Colorado reported 20 bicycle MVA (Motor Vehicle Accident) fatalities in 2018. These represented 3.4% of the total Colorado MVA deaths (632) in 2018. Using the same ratio, we can estimate that in 2020, 110 bicyclists will sustain serious injuries in Colorado due to accidents involving a motor vehicle.

WE WANT YOU TO AVOID BEING A STATISTIC

Bicycle Safety falls under the jurisdiction of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Here is a quick highlight of NHTSA’s safety brochure along with some of our own advice based upon our experience and our case files.

VISIBILITY: Wear a helmet, one that fits, and wear it correctly. Wear high visibility clothing. Even in daylight use a white front light and a rear red light.

EQUIPMENT CHECK: Ride a bike that fits and works; check the brakes; the gears; if using clip-ons make sure the pedals and your cleats match and are properly adjusted for a quick release. Tires matter, when worn, change them. If flat, inflate them.

NO DISTRACTIONS: Do not wear earphones when riding. Don’t ride and text or do other irresponsible things with your mobile device that take your eyes off the road and your mind off what you are doing.

OBEY TRAFFIC LAWS AND SIGNAGE: Use common sense. According to NHTSA, a large percentage of crashes can be avoided if motorists and cyclists follow the rules of the road and watch out for each other. Don’t run stop signs or red lights. Do not interfere with pedestrians’ rights of way. When on a busy street with following traffic, signal your turn.

RIDE WITH THE FLOW OF TRAFFIC: Ride single file except on paths or roadways designated for exclusive bike use.

BICYCLE LIABILITY LAW

The most serious accidents are bicycle versus motor vehicle accidents. Drivers often are distracted as they begin a turn onto a street, and they don’t see or yield to a bicyclist who has the right of way. Drivers also do not give cyclists much room on a bike lane or shoulder and hit and injure the bicyclist who was lawfully in the bike lane or clearly on the roadway shoulder. Typically, these accidents leave evidence which we can use to prove fault, such as scuff marks on the road, tell-tale damage to either the body-work or right-side mirror of the involved vehicle. We have also tracked down eyewitnesses using 911 taped calls with number tracing. To prove the case, we need to show a driving infraction, just as we would in a car-on-car crash case. In these cases, we look to the liability coverage of the at-fault driver. Plus, the injured party’s under or uninsured motorist coverage from their own auto policy may provide additional money damages. Bike on bike accidents occur in crowded city parks or during events where many participants can be caught up in a crowd with other riders who have no experience riding in a large field of cyclists. These can be very serious accidents. In a rider versus rider case your auto insurance will not provide coverage for either the injured or the at-fault rider. Your homeowners’ insurance might provide coverage if you are the at-fault rider. The event itself is typically protected by a waiver. On behalf of the injured rider we need to show that the at-fault rider either violated a statute, a municipal ordinance, or was riding unsafely.