The impact of auto accidents in Colorado goes beyond the initial shock and repair bills for your automobile. Financial impacts may include medical bills, lost wages from work, an increase in insurance premiums, and if you are at fault a lawsuit.
The Colorado Department of Transportation reports that in 2018 the state had a total of 121,922 automobile accidents. While you may drive carefully, there is no guarantee that you can prevent an accident due to the conduct of others on the road. Read on for the information you need to know if you are in an automobile accident in Colorado.
1. Be Cautious About What You Say
When you are in an accident, it is important to keep your wits about you and think about everything you say and do. It is not unusual for a flip comment to end up working against you in a police report or lawsuit.
Never say you do not have any injuries. Some injuries do not appear until later, especially if they are internal, such as whiplash.
If an inquiry is made on injuries it is better to say you do not require medical treatment on the scene, you will seek treatment on your own. It is important you seek treatment as soon as possible after the accident. The longer you delay the greater the chance of an insurance company or the other party claiming your injuries were not the result of the accident.
Do not admit fault on the accident scene, even if you think you may be guilty of wrongdoing. It is possible that the other driver was in violation of traffic signals or not paying attention, resulting in the accident. If you admit fault to the police, your insurance company, the other driver, or any witness that admission may be held against you later.
You also need to be careful about what you post on social media. If you suffer severe injuries that may require filing a lawsuit, but post online that you are “fine” the opposition and/or your insurance may use that against you.
2. Your Insurance Company Is Not Your Friend
You need to advise your insurance company of the accident, but do not accept any settlement offers. If you receive an offer request it in writing and inform them you will need to have an attorney review before you make a decision.
Insurance companies are likely to offer a low-ball settlement they think you will accept. Their goal is to resolve the matter as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Do not fall into their trap.
3. Always Report the Accident
The police report is evidence the incident occurred. Even if your car does not appear to have damage, it is possible the vehicle has internal damage. If the police refuse to appear on the accident scene, drive to a police station and file a report in person.
The accident report is necessary for insurance claims and in the event you need to file a lawsuit at a later time for damages.
4. Take Photographs and Document Witnesses
While you are waiting for police to arrive take photographs of the accident scene, both vehicles showing their position and damage, road conditions, and the weather. This is a perfect time to take not only stills, but a quick video to give a good overall view of the scene.
Make notes for future reference. If there are any witnesses jot down their names, contact information, and what they say about the accident so they can be interviewed by police and/or your attorney.
5. Colorado Car Accident Law
Colorado law states that the driver who is at fault in an accident is financially responsible for all of the provable damages that relate to the accident.
The Colorado Statute of Limitations requires filing a lawsuit within three years of the accident. It is always a good idea to contact an attorney as quickly after the accident as possible, especially if the accident resulted in a death.
The wrongful death statute is two years, which may be different than the date of the accident.
6. Proportional Fault
Proportional fault is the same as comparative fault, which means Colorado will determine whether both drivers share in some portion of liability in an accident. Colorado Revised Statute 13-21-111 allows for the recovery of compensation from any party who has a higher degree of fault in the accident than you.
What this means is that if you are 25% at fault in an accident and the recovery would normally be $100,000, because of your proportional fault you will only receive $75,000.
7. Colorado Car Insurance Requirements
In Colorado, you must carry two types of insurance on your automobile, Property damage liability coverage, and bodily injury liability coverage.
Property damage coverage pays for damage to the vehicle and is paid on behalf of the at-fault driver. Bodily injury coverage covers injuries a driver sustains in the accident and is paid on behalf of the at-fault driver. The minimum coverage amounts are:
- $25,000 injury or death to another driver
- $50,000 injury or death for all persons in an accident
- $15,000 damage to property
Supplemental riders on insurance may include:
- MedPay—covers at least $5,000 for medical bills for you and any of your passengers
- Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist—Protects you if the other driver has no or inadequate insurance coverage
- Collision—coverage for your vehicle regardless of fault
- Comprehensive—coverage for flood, theft, falling objects, and fire
Insurance companies may refuse compensation if the other vehicle causing damage was a vehicle you own, if you drive for a ride-share or taxi service, or if you intentionally caused your automobile or property to suffer damage.
Common Types of Auto Accidents in Colorado
There are a number of reasons accidents occur, including distracted driving, cell phone use, texting, reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and weather conditions. Some of the most common accidents are:
- Low-Speed Collision—accidents at less than 10 mph
- Rear-End Collision—Can either be while moving or when stopped at a traffic signal
- Parked Car Accident—you hit a parked car, or your car is hit while parked
- T-Bone Accident—When the front of a vehicle hits the side of another
- Sideswipe Accident—Frequently happens on expressways or several lane highways when vehicles are trying to change lanes
- Hit and Run Accident—A driver leaves the scene of an accident without exchanging information
Even if you are comparatively at fault in an accident, it is wise to consult with an attorney regarding the potential for recovering at least part of the damages you suffer. The other reason for quickly contacting an attorney is if you believe you are at fault and likely to be sued for an accident.
You Need a Colorado Auto Accident Lawyer
There is a strong possibility that at some point you will be in auto accidents in Colorado. When it happens follow our tips above to gather as much information as possible at the scene. The next step is to contact the Sweet Law Group to schedule a 100% free consultation.
Sweet Law Group has a 98% success rate. You can’t go wrong in finding out what the legal standing is on your case. Call (800) 674-7854 to schedule your consultation today.