Why Do I need a Denver Car Accident Attorney?
Yes, you do if you are serious about having a strong case and the best chances of obtaining the full compensation you may deserve. The reality is that your crash may not be the first time you’re victimized after a wreck if you don’t have an experienced Denver car accident lawyer on your side.
You could become a victim of an insurance company’s underhanded tactics. The insurers’ jobs are to look for ways to not pay out money so they can protect the company’s bottom line. For you, that means you cannot rely on an insurer to tell you the whole truth about your rights and options. It also means that you cannot count on insurance companies to:
- Correctly attribute fault: They can look for ways to blame you for the accident, either in part or in full. This can include stretches in interpreting evidence in order to try to justify their position.
- Honor the coverage: Insurers may try to argue that an accident, driver, or vehicle was not covered. In some cases, they may go to illegal lengths, like by changing policies after the fact, to try to get out of having to pay damages.
- Offer you a fair settlement: If you don’t have a lawyer, an insurance company is far more likely to offer you a lowball settlement, expecting that you are not fully aware of your rights.
With a Denver car accident lawyer, victims can gain a better understanding of their rights and options while getting an essential ally against insurance companies and/or any other parties who may try to undercut their rights, claims, and/or compensation.
What Are the Common Causes of Car Accidents in Colorado?
Accidents can be caused by so many different things. Some are obvious; many aren’t. Most of the time, however, some type of negligence is involved. When it is, it usually takes one of the following forms.
- Drunk driving: When drivers are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (including legal drugs), their perception, judgment, and reaction times can all be impaired, and horrific wrecks usually follow.
- Distracted driving: Like drunk driving, distracted driving can prevent motorists from seeing, accurately evaluating, or promptly responding to important cues in their environment. This results in far too many preventable crashes.
- Speeding and reckless driving: These aggressive actions may not only violate traffic laws, but they can also increase the risk of motorists losing control of their vehicles and causing deadly collisions.
- Careless driving: From failing to use blinkers to drifting out of lanes of traffic, carelessness behind the wheel can be just as harmful as willful recklessness.
- Faulty vehicle equipment: Poor design, improper installation, or failure to maintain equipment can all result in equipment malfunctions, which can make vehicles difficult, if not impossible, for drivers to safely control.
- Poor roadway conditions: A lack of guardrails, broken traffic lights, and even cracks or potholes in the blacktop can also contribute to devastating collisions.
- Other factors: Depending on the circumstances of a crash, other factors could include the negligence of a motorist’s employer, a motor carrier, a highway work zone crew, or some other party.
Identifying all causes and contributing factors to an accident is pivotal to determining all parties who are at fault and liable for it. This is just one of the many ways an attorney can be crucial after an accident.
What Are Common Injuries?
The injuries that commonly result from motor vehicle accidents run the gamut from minor and passing to severe, permanent, life-threatening, and deadly. Most commonly, accident injuries tend to include:
- Whiplash: Caused by heads and necks snapping back and forth during a collision, whiplash can take time to present the severity of its symptoms in full.
- Back injuries: Herniated discs, spinal cord injuries, and vertebral fractures can all cause serious and lasting pain. While these injuries can require invasive medical interventions, they can also result in permanent impairments to injured people’s quality of life.
- Head and brain injuries: Concussions, puncture wounds to the head, and severe traumatic brain injury can all cause irreversible damage.
- Bone fractures and internal organ injuries: Depending on which bones break, crash survivors can suffer internal bleeding, punctures to internal organs, and other life-threatening harm.
- Soft tissue injuries: Scraps, bruises, scratches, and more can be severely painful and may even have permanent impacts via disfigurement, nerve damage, and more.
Whether car accident injuries are catastrophic or latent, it’s crucial to get immediate medical attention and the necessary follow-up care. While this can help victims achieve better outcomes in terms of their physical recoveries, it can also be important to a accident case and a potential financial recovery.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
You never expect an auto collision to happen. When it does, knowing what to do can make all the difference in how you’re able to recover later. To that end, here’s what you should do if you’re involved in a crash (and if you are not terribly injured):
- Get to a safe place ASAP and check for any injuries.
- Call 911 or a non-emergency police number.
- Wait at the scene and exchange information with the other involved parties.
- Get medical attention ASAP, even if you don’t think you’re seriously injured.
- Take pictures and/or videos of the accident scene.
- Do not admit blame or say “sorry” at any point.
- Do not make any statements about your injuries.
- Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as you can after leaving the scene.
- Do not assume that you have to file a case alone.
- Talk to an attorney to get important answers about your rights, your potential claim, and your options for financial recovery.
If you are severely injured, the only step you need to take is #10. An attorney can take care of everything necessary to help you recover whenever another’s negligence has harmed you.
How to Report a Car Accident in Colorado
You can report an accident in Denver by either calling the police immediately after the wreck so they respond to the scene, or you can report a collision after the fact. Generally, it’s best to try to call the police immediately so they can do things like:
- Assist victims, remove crash debris, and divert traffic
- Investigate the crash, collect evidence, and talk to witnesses
- Write up an official accident report, detailing the evidence and findings related to fault
If that’s not possible, however, you can report an accident online to the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You can also use this online reporting tool to revise or change collision reports, within a certain timeframe, and to obtain a copy of a accident report.
Colorado Auto Accident Statistics
The numbers on Colorado car accidents tell a grim story about how often preventable wrecks happen. Here’s what the latest data from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reveals:
- Accidents are the number one cause of death in Colorado.
- Every year since 2011, deaths on Colorado roads have risen.
- Speeding is a factor in more than 1 in 3 deadly accidents in Colorado. Since 2016, speeding-related deaths have increased by about 9%.
- Drunk driving also contributes to nearly 1 in 3 fatal wrecks in Colorado.
- Traffic deaths on Colorado’s urban roadways have been increasing the fastest, spiking by about 8% since 2016.
What are Colorado Car Insurance Laws & Requirements?
Minimum auto insurance coverage is set by Colorado law and is required for all motorists in the state. It requires 25-50-15 coverage for bodily injuries and property damage. The table below breaks down what that means.
|Minimum Coverage Amount
||Bodily injury or death to any one person in an accident
||Bodily injury or death to all persons in any one accident
||Property damage in any one accident
While you can find more on minimum car insurance requirements in Colorado here, it’s usually best to get more than the minimum whenever possible. It’s also smart to expect other that drivers will only get the minimum and, if you can afford it, get some supplemental coverage that could be a lifesaver if you’re hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Is Colorado No-Fault State for Auto Accidents?
In terms of car accidents, Colorado is a fault-based state. That means proving fault is necessary to being legally entitled to crash damages. It also means that, after a car accident, victims typically need to pursue damages via insurance claims and/or civil lawsuits.
Insurance claims are generally the first avenue for seeking accident compensation. These can be filed with third-party insurers and/or your own insurance company, depending on how the accident was caused, the type of insurance other parties have, and the type of coverage you have.
When claims cannot be settled with insurance companies or out of court, they will then move forward to a lawsuit. Bringing cases to court is always more expensive and time-consuming than settling out of court, so it’s usually in all parties’ best interests to try to resolve cases before the lawsuit phase. Nevertheless, sometimes it is necessary to battle it out in court.
What Happens If the At-Fault Driver Is Uninsured?
If you are hit by a motorist who does not have insurance, you may still be able to recover compensation for your crash-related damages IF you have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage as part of your own policy. In these cases, you would file a claim with your own insurance company.
With UM/UIM claims, it’s essential for Coloradans to understand that:
- These claims can also be filed in the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident (when the at-fault driver who fled the scene is never identified or located).
- Having UM/UIM coverage does not guarantee compensation, as insurance companies may still go to great lengths to deny coverage or minimize payouts for these claims.
Steps to File an Insurance Claim
When you are ready to file an insurance claim after a car accident, take these steps:
- Call your insurance company to report the accident.
- Only report the facts of the crash.
- Do NOT admit fault, bend the truth, or guess about any details.
- Keep all accident-related documents and evidence you have, as well as all correspondence from the insurance company.
- Do NOT provide an “official” or recorded statement until you are ready.
- Do NOT automatically accept a first settlement offer or a claim denial without talking to a lawyer.
- Contact an attorney for help at any point before or while filing a claim. It’s the best way to make sure your rights and claim are protected moving forward.
How Is Much the Average Car Accident Claim Worth in Denver?
Every accident case is unique, so there is not a set “average” for car accident compensation amounts, settlements, or awards. In general, the average value of a claim will depend on several factors, like:
- The type and severity of the injuries: This will not only impact medical expenses and health care costs to treat those injuries, but it can also render victims unable to return to work, temporarily or permanently.
- The nature and extent of the property damage: Vehicle repair bills or replacement expenses will vary, depending on how the impact occurred.
- Fault: If victims share some level of fault for the collision, their compensation can be reduced, no matter how extensive or minor the resulting damage was.
To clarify the strength and value of your potential claim, contact Bell and Pollock, P.C.
What Damages Can I Recover from a Car Accident?
Typically, damages for accident cases are focused on compensating victims for the losses they have suffered as a result of a crash caused by another’s negligence. As such, these compensatory damages can include economic and non-economic damages. While Colorado law does have damage caps for civil cases, like crash claims, the courts do have the discretion to award damages exceeding these caps in some situations.
Easily quantifiable, economic damages can include compensation for (but not necessarily limited to):
- Vehicle damage
- Past and future medical treatment
- Past and future lost earnings
More difficult to quantify, non-economic damages cover the non-pecuniary losses crash victims can experience, like pain, suffering, impacts to their quality of life, and permanent impairments.
While economic and non-economic damages will never erase the harm victims may suffer from a crash, this type of compensation can be crucial for helping the injured get treatment and put their lives back together after a wreck.