Understanding Car Accident Compensation In Colorado (2023)
Table Of Contents
- Discover the Value of Your Auto Accident Injury Claim
- Does Colorado have a no-fault car insurance policy?
- Categories of Damages
- Restrictions on Damages
- Determining the Value of Your Colorado Car Accident Claim
- Evaluating a Settlement Offer for My Car Accident
- Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in Colorado
- How can a Colorado car accident lawyer help?
Discover the Value of Your Auto Accident Injury Claim
The financial burden of a severe car accident in Colorado can quickly escalate, encompassing medical expenses, vehicle repair costs, and the economic consequences of lost wages due to incapacitation from a critical injury. Consequently, it is essential for those affected to comprehend the intricacies of Colorado's compensation system, regardless of whether the crash transpired on I-70 in Denver, I-25 in Colorado Springs, or another area within the state. Without this understanding, victims may not receive the necessary funds to restore their lives.
On this webpage, you will find precise information about the compensation process, provided by seasoned Colorado car accident attorneys who consistently advocate for injured individuals and their families across The Centennial State.
Does Colorado have a no-fault car insurance policy?
- $25,000 per individual for injury-related costs, excluding medical bills for the insurance policyholder.
- $50,000 per accident for injury expenses for two or more injured persons, not covering the policyholder’s medical costs.
- $15,000 per accident for property damage, including funds for vehicle repairs.
In Colorado, drivers have the option to acquire additional insurance beyond the state’s mandatory minimum car insurance stipulations, such as:
- Collision coverage, which supplies funds for vehicle repairs resulting from a collision, regardless of fault. Although optional by law, this coverage is typically required by lienholders for financed vehicles.
- Comprehensive insurance, which compensates for damages arising from circumstances other than car accidents. Such scenarios may encompass weather-related incidents, vandalism, theft, or animal collisions.
- Medical payment coverage, also referred to as “MedPay,” which provides compensation for medical and funeral-related expenses following a collision on a no-fault basis.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, which covers your damages if the accident was caused by a driver without insurance or insufficient coverage to pay the full cost.
The table below outlines essential components of Colorado’s car accident compensation regulations.
Statute of Limitations
According to applicable law, the statute of limitations spans three years (C.R.S.§ 13-80-101(n)).
Non-Economic Damage Limit
Indexed to inflation, this limit currently exceeds $600,000. For further details on this cap, consult Colorado’s laws pertaining to relevant damage limitations and legal actions at C.R.S. § 13-21-102.5 and § 13-21-203.7.
Wrongful Death Damage Limit
Applicable law states that the same cap for non-economic damages applies. However, an exception exists when the death is caused by a felony, in which case the cap will not apply.
Punitive Damages Limit
According to applicable law, the amount is based on a “one-to-one” limit compared to actual damages, but it cannot surpass the actual damages awarded to the plaintiff.
Categories of Damages
An evident claim involves damages to your vehicle. Nevertheless, the repercussions of a car accident extend beyond that. Other types of damages resulting from car accidents encompass:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical Expenses (Chiropractic, Physical Therapy)
- Rental car costs
- Lost income
- Loss of affection or companionship
Car accident damages are typically classified as economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages cover past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket costs. Non-economic damages address aspects such as pain, emotional distress, and disability or disfigurement.
Restrictions on Damages
The initial restriction an attorney evaluates in any car accident case is the time constraint for filing your claim, known as the statute of limitations. In Colorado, this duration is three years for auto accidents. Other significant restrictions on damages are found in Colorado’s various caps on recovery in personal injury cases. These caps primarily affect non-economic damages and punitive damages, rather than directly provable damages to your vehicle or medical bills.
The overall cap for injuries linked to pain, suffering, and emotional distress is adjusted for inflation and currently surpasses $600,000. However, this cap does not apply when the injured party can demonstrate permanent physical impairment. This is a crucial aspect for attorneys to argue in court and to substantiate with clear and convincing evidence.
In wrongful death cases, a similar cap exists. However, another exception may apply. If the death resulted from a felony, the cap will no longer be enforced. This is referred to as the felonious killings exception and includes manslaughter, which is commonly the conviction following a fatal drunk-driving accident.
Lastly, punitive damages are confined to a “one-to-one” ratio against the actual damages, meaning the jury’s award cannot exceed the amount of the actual damages granted to the plaintiff. Factors considered in determining such awards include the cost of a replacement vehicle and medical bills.
Determining the Value of Your Colorado Car Accident Claim
While the question may seem straightforward, the answer is far more complex than anticipated. In essence, if someone else is responsible for your collision in Colorado, you should be reimbursed for all your accident-related expenses. This is the legal expectation and the foundation of the state’s at-fault car insurance system.
The complexity arises when different parties disagree on the compensation amount you should receive for your accident. The at-fault driver’s insurance company may argue that your accident is worth only a few thousand dollars, while your attorney might contend that you deserve significantly more based on evidence supporting your car accident claim.
It is crucial for injury victims to have an attorney on their side, working to secure the compensation they rightfully deserve. Without legal representation, you may end up covering some accident expenses out of your own pocket.
In many instances, the entities with the most influence on the compensation amount for your accident are the same ones responsible for covering your accident costs – insurance companies. It’s not surprising that the at-fault driver’s insurance company, which often has to pay for your accident, may not consider all your accident-related expenses. Their primary objective is to save money, not to fully compensate you for your losses.
You should be reimbursed for all accident expenses, whether they occur shortly after the accident or years later. That’s why it’s vital to have an attorney representing you in any discussions concerning the compensation amount for your accident.
As stated earlier, you should be compensated for all accident expenses. What might not be apparent is the extensive range of expenses this can entail, especially when considering future anticipated costs due to your accident. This particular aspect often leads to disagreements between injury victims and insurance companies. Such expenses can encompass a broad spectrum, including:
The cost of all medical care, including future treatments for ongoing medical issues (such as chronic pain) resulting from your accident.
Funds for vehicle repairs or purchasing a new vehicle if your car was totaled in the accident.
Replacement income for time off work while recovering from your injuries.
Future income if you cannot return to work or can only work in a reduced capacity due to permanent disability.
In Colorado, compensation for car accident injury victims is calculated based on several factors, such as the severity of the injury, medical treatment costs, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses.
Insurance companies for all parties involved often have the most influence when determining the compensation amount awarded to car accident injury victims. However, they should not be the only ones participating in such crucial discussions.
An experienced car accident attorney should be involved in this process, ensuring that the rights of injury victims are upheld. A lawyer can help injury victims comprehend the various types of compensation available. The ultimate objective is to guarantee that anyone injured in an accident caused by another driver receives just and complete compensation for the harm they endured.
Evaluating a Settlement Offer for My Car Accident
Following your car accident in Colorado, you may receive a settlement offer from an insurance company. While it may be tempting to accept the offer, keep in mind that once you agree to a settlement, you cannot request additional funds in the future, even if your accident expenses increase more than anticipated over time.
Consequently, you might have to cover some future accident-related expenses on your own. In some cases, these expenses can be significant. That’s why it’s crucial to carefully weigh any settlement offer before accepting it.
If you feel the settlement offer does not adequately cover your car accident-related expenses, you can and should request more money. However, obtaining the compensation you rightfully deserve can be a complex legal process. This complexity stems from the possibility that you may be entitled to receive more money than the other driver’s insurance company offered. Many insurance companies strive to pay injury victims as little as possible, rather than negotiating in good faith.
An experienced attorney can assist you in negotiating a better car accident settlement offer. They are familiar with the process and know how to handle insurance companies. If the insurance company acts in bad faith and refuses to offer more money, your lawyer can file a car accident lawsuit on your behalf, seeking damages or financial compensation.
Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in Colorado
As briefly mentioned earlier, anyone injured in a Colorado collision caused by another driver has the right to file a lawsuit for compensation of their accident expenses. It is essential to understand that there is a limited timeframe to take legal action.
In Colorado, car accident injury victims have three years from the accident date to file a lawsuit in civil court. This deadline, known as the statute of limitations, is outlined in Colorado Revised Statute § 13-80-101(1).
While three years may seem lengthy, the longer you wait to take legal action, the more challenging it becomes to gather the evidence required to build a robust and successful case. Therefore, it is crucial to act promptly after a Colorado collision and consult a lawyer as soon as possible.
Colorado allows car accident injury victims to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. Non-economic damages refer to compensation for injury-related expenses that do not have a specific price tag, such as car repairs or medical bills. Instead, non-economic damages compensate for the overall impact an accident has on a person’s life.
However, there are limitations in Colorado on the amount of money car accident injury victims can receive for pain and suffering. With few exceptions, these damages are capped at $500,000. An attorney can explain which caps apply to your situation.
If you have the appropriate car insurance, you may be able to file an accident claim with your own insurance company if injured in a collision caused by an uninsured driver. Uninsured motorist (UM) insurance can stand in for the other driver’s insurance. Additionally, you may file a collision or MedPay claim if you have those types of coverage.
Even with UM insurance coverage, do not assume your insurance company will cover your accident-related expenses. In many cases, insurance companies, even your own, prioritize profit over your well-being.
As a result, instead of receiving the compensation you deserve for a collision caused by an uninsured driver, you may find yourself in a fierce battle with your own insurance company. This is why it is crucial to consult an attorney promptly after your Colorado car accident.
How can a Colorado car accident lawyer help?
Numerous legal matters often arise after a severe collision in Colorado. Without an attorney who is well-versed in the legal process, you might not receive the compensation you deserve for your accident.
This point is crucial since injury victims have only one chance to obtain the compensation necessary for covering a lifetime of accident expenses. If you experience chronic pain or other long-term medical issues due to your accident, such expenses can be substantial.
It’s also essential to recognize that Colorado car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This arrangement means you only need to pay them if they successfully secure a financial settlement or verdict for you. If they don’t win your case, you’re not obligated to pay them. There’s no risk or downside to discussing your options with a local lawyer. Schedule your complimentary consultation today.