Prior to 2003, the state was a no-fault state for car accidents. This meant that if you had a car accident, you would file a claim against your own auto insurance policy to cover your damages, regardless of who caused the accident. You would only have grounds to seek recompense from the other driver if they were directly responsible for causing the accident and your losses exceeded your insurance coverage.
Today, Colorado is a “fault” state, meaning that when a car accident happens, the driver responsible for causing it is liable for the other driver’s damages. Every driver in the state must have auto insurance, and recovering from a recent accident means proving that the other driver is directly responsible for the incident. Having an experienced attorney will make the recovery process after an accident much easier to approach and more likely to generate the result you hope to see.
Auto insurance is required in the state, and if you are caught driving without insurance coverage, you can lose your driver’s license until you produce proof of insurance. Additionally, causing an accident without insurance means absorbing full liability for all the other driver’s damages. Therefore, it is never worth risking driving without insurance. All drivers in the state must carry auto insurance that includes three types of liability coverage:
While not specifically required, it is strongly recommended for drivers to also purchase additional uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage typically comes into effect when an at-fault driver does not have insurance or if their insurance does not meet the state’s minimum coverage requirements.
Immediately after a car crash, your health and safety should be your main concerns. Call 911 if no one else has already done so to report the accident, and wait for first responders if you have been injured. If you feel well enough to move around, only do so carefully, so you do not make your injuries worse. Take photos of the scene of the crash, including pictures of your injuries and the damage to your vehicle. These will be helpful in your recovery efforts and reinforce the credibility of your insurance claim. Once you address your medical needs, reach out to an attorney to help you file your car accident claim and determine any other avenues of legal recourse available.
If you cause a car accident in the state and do not have auto insurance, you will be solely responsible for the damages you caused to the other driver. Additionally, you will have your driver’s license suspended until you can provide proof of insurance. Insurance companies base their premium rates for policyholders on their perceived risk of causing an accident, so if you have already caused an accident while driving without insurance, your insurance premium is likely to be much higher than it would be otherwise.
Colorado upholds a modified comparative negligence law which comes into play whenever a plaintiff shares fault for the damages caused by a defendant. If this applies to you, the judge will assign you a fault percentage to reflect the degree of your liability. This percentage is then deducted from your case award. If, for example, you bear 40% fault, you lose 40% of the compensation won from the defendant. If a plaintiff’s fault exceeds 50%, they lose the right to seek money for damages from the defendant.
When the other driver’s fault is clear, and you have a reliable attorney handling your case, it should only take a few weeks to receive your settlement check from the insurance company. However, there is always a chance for unexpected complications, and you could encounter unexpected disputes with the insurance company. Hiring legal counsel that you can trust is the best way to streamline the insurance claim process after an accident.
The driver responsible for your recent accident will only face jail time if they caused the accident through some intentional misconduct, such as driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless driving, or excessive speeding. Jail time is likely whenever intentional misconduct causes severe bodily injury or death to another person. Your attorney can advise you as to whether the nature of the defendant’s behavior will influence your recovery efforts.
If the driver responsible for your accident only has minimum coverage in their auto insurance policy, this may not be enough to fully compensate your damages. In this situation, you would need to start a personal injury claim against them, seeking compensation for the damages their insurance can’t cover. An experienced attorney is an ideal asset for this legal process as they can potentially uncover channels of recovery you didn’t know were available to you.
If you have been injured in a car crash and need to start an insurance claim, you have the best chance of success with your claim when you have an attorney’s assistance. The attorneys at Cheney Galluzzi & Howard have faced the largest insurance carriers on behalf of our clients, and we can help you secure the compensation you need to recover as fully as possible. Contact us now for more information about the legal services we offer.