Lakewood, Colorado, certainly sees its share of car accidents. Not all car accident claims are serious, of course. There might be no reason for you to contact a lawyer to help you handle a fender-bender accident with no injuries.
Sometimes you need a lawyer, and sometimes you don’t. So how do you know the difference? See below for details on this issue.
Background: The Colorado Car Accident Insurance System
Colorado requires drivers of Colorado-registered vehicles to maintain the following minimum insurance coverage:
- $25,000 per person up to $50,000 per accident for injury liability; and
- $15,000 for property damage liability.
None of this insurance covers you for your own injuries.
Colorado car accident law is an “at-fault” system, as opposed to the “no-fault” system used by about a dozen US states. That means in the event of an accident, you can immediately file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, or you can file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance policy.
Since you will need evidence to file a claim, it is important that you gather evidence immediately after an accident.
How Do You Know When To Contact a Lawyer?
The time to contact a lawyer is when you discover a complicating factor in your case that you will need a lawyer to handle. It’s not just about “winning,” it’s about obtaining every dime you deserve. Following are a few examples.
Catastrophic injuries produce catastrophic medical bills, which produce very large personal injury claims. The more money you demand, the harder the defendant will fight to keep from paying it–and the more you will need a lawyer.
A child victim cannot file a lawsuit in their own name until they turn 18. One way of expediting matters is to have a judge declare you the child’s guardian ad litem for the purposes of their personal injury claim.
Not only will this allow you to sue on the child’s behalf, it will allow you to bargain with the insurance company using the threat of a lawsuit as bargaining leverage. Courts usually appoint a parent as guardian ad litem.
Colorado operates a “modified comparative negligence” system when the negligence of more than one party causes an accident. Any party at least 50% at fault has no personal injury claim.
A party less than 50% at fault will lose whatever percentage of compensation corresponds to their percentage of fault—15%, for example. Arguing percentages of fault definitely requires a lawyer.
DUI Accidents and Colorado’s Dram Shop Law
In the event of a DUI accident, you might qualify for punitive damages. Additionally, Colorado’s “dram shop law” allows you to sue a bar or nightclub that sold the driver alcohol after they became visibly intoxicated. You can also sue an alcohol vendor or a social host who sold alcohol to a driver under 21 years old.
Colorado’s dram shop law could provide you with a second source of compensation. This could come in handy if the DUI driver lacked insurance, or if their insurance was insufficient to cover your claim.
Government Tort Claims
You can sue the state, local, or federal government for a personal injury claim. You might get involved in a car accident with a post office vehicle, for example. Since the government gets its money from taxes, suing the government essentially means suing the taxpayers.
Because of this, you must comply with special rules to sue the government, and additional deadlines apply. Move quickly to hire a lawyer if you think you have a claim against a government.
Insurance Company Shenanigans
Insurance companies are not “good neighbors” – they are for-profit businesses. They make a profit by accepting premiums and either denying claims or minimizing their value. Consequently, insurance adjusters have a thousand tricks up their sleeve.
If you suspect they are using any of them against you, hire a lawyer. Most insurance adjusters won’t even dare try to pull one of their tricks against our experienced personal injury lawyers.
Multi-vehicle collisions often occur on crowded freeways, especially if an eighteen-wheeler is involved. Every additional vehicle complicates your claim; while you are claiming against one driver, another driver might be claiming against you. It’s time to hire a lawyer.
The Defendant Was an On-Duty Employee
You might find yourself in a situation where the at-fault driver lacks the insurance resources to pay your claim. If the driver was an on-duty employee at the time of the accident, however, you might be able to sue the driver’s employer-–check with your lawyer. If you can sue them, then you will also have the leverage to settle with them.
The Statute of Limitations Deadline is Looming
The Colorado personal injury statute of limitations determines your deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit. If you miss the deadline (in Colorado, it’s typically two years after the accident), you won’t even be able to settle your claim out of court.
If the statute of limitations deadline is looming, you might need a lawyer to help you draft the paperwork you need to file a lawsuit. Don’t worry-–you can still keep negotiating, and you can drop your lawsuit whenever you reach a settlement.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorists
If the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, they might not be able to pay your claim. No problem if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance in an amount sufficient to pay your claim.
Otherwise, however, you’re going to need to find a second or even a third defendant. This is where a lawyer could come in handy. You might also need a lawyer in the event of a hit-and-run accident.
If a personal injury victim dies from their injuries, a wrongful death claim arises. These claims typically add up to a lot of money, since they represent the value of a human life. That is where your need for a lawyer comes in.
You’re Not a Resident of Colorado
Colorado gets a lot of tourists. If you were one of them at the time of the accident, you would do well to hire a lawyer to take care of your interests. Under the right circumstances, you might not even need to return to Colorado.
The Clock Is Ticking on Your Claim
The longer you wait to take action on your claim, the weaker it will become. Don’t worry, almost all car accident claims end at the settlement table, not in court. What’s more, you don’t need a dime upfront to hire a Lakewood car accident lawyer.
Your lawyer will almost certainly take their legal fee out of your eventual compensation. And if you don’t win, you won’t owe any legal fees. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer from Matos Personal Injury Lawyers as soon as you can at (720) 912 7274.