A tragic Colorado bicycle accident took the life of professional cyclist Benjamin Sonntag last week. The 39-year-old was riding his bike north on La Plata County Road 105 near Durango when a 1991 Ford pickup truck struck him as it traveled south.
The truck had drifted off the right side of the street, hit a fence, kept going through a field, and then came to a stop on its side in Cherry Creek. Sonntag died at the scene, while the 19-year-old pickup truck driver was transported to the hospital with minor injuries.
Sonntag had been a resident of Durango since 2008 when he started attending Fort Lewis College and earning national titles in the sport of mountain biking. Fellow local bikers described the dirt road Sonntag had been riding on as fairly quiet, with only a few cars going down it every day, so the pickup truck that hit him may have been the only car he saw on the street during his ride. Investigators are looking into whether speed was a factor in this Colorado bicycle accident.
What to Know About Fatal Bike Accidents in Colorado
Benjamin Sonntag may have been the first well-known cyclist to be killed in a Colorado bike accident, but he's not the only fatality when it comes to bike accidents in this state. In fact, in 2018 alone, 22 bicyclists died this way in Colorado, and 19 were killed in 2019. This is a big increase from years ago, as 2003 only saw three bicyclists killed in car accidents in this state.
If your loved one was killed in a cyclist accident in Colorado, it may be best to file a wrongful death case against the at-fault driver. As long as you're the spouse, child, or designated beneficiary of the victim, you should be eligible to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. If you're the parent of the victim, and he or she had no children, spouse, or beneficiaries who are living, you're eligible to file this type of lawsuit, as well.
The point of filing a wrongful death case in Colorado is to get compensation for the costs of losing a loved one so suddenly. You may also get compensation for noneconomic damages you've suffered due to the death of a family member after a Colorado car accident. The damages you can ask for often include:
- Medical bills
- Funeral costs
- Loss of income
- Loss of care or guidance
- Loss of inheritance due to the death
- Loss of love & companionship
- Loss of consortium
Before you prepare to file a wrongful death case, note that there is a statute of limitations on this type of lawsuit. You have two years from the death of your loved one to file. In addition, keep in mind that Colorado has some caps on damages in certain cases. If the victim did not leave behind a widow, widower, minor child, or dependent parent, the cap on economic damages is $250,000. In such cases, the cap on non-economic damages is either $250,000 or up to $500,000 if the evidence calls for higher compensation.
If you've suffered the devastating loss of a loved one in a bike accident, contact a Colorado car accident attorney to discuss your legal options today!