Personal Injury in Colorado
In 2003, Colorado ended its reign as a no-fault state. Thus, a person who causes an accident, and the insurance company linked to them, is now responsible for payment of property damages and personal injuries. But this new way of accessing blame makes things a bit tricky, especially when it comes to matters of personal injury law.
Fault must be proven and the at-fault driver must be established, but it is not always a cut-and-dried case. For example, what if you are at fault for an accident (and were injured also) based on the negligence or the "cause" of another driver.
And who is to blame when the weather is the true cause, even though you are at fault? Anyone familiar with Colorado mountain roads understands the difficulty of maneuvering over steep grades in a white-out.
Before you can even wade into the settlement waters, you need to figure out a few issues related to the injury suffered. This is where you tread the waves of fault and cause.
- Fault of the accident must be clearly established, and the driver at fault, or the one liable, must be proven to have caused the accident.
- Demonstrate that injuries incurred were a result of the accident.
- Damages sustained both to property and to body by the driver established as the cause of an accident.
The percentage of fault is ultimately a huge factor for how an insurance company will begin assessing a claim for personal injury. This is just another good reason to have the representation of a lawyer. If fault and cause are not completely definable and it goes into the percentage phase, you will want to be sure you get the highest award.
Defining the cost of an injury is tough. There is a mountain of details to sort through (again, this is where a lawyer is handy) when filing an injury claim, and so many things one must consider besides who is simply liable and what that exactly entails.
Insurance companies generally use a compensation formula to determine costs. But in many cases, the dollar amount presented is rather black-and-white and fails to consider the vague factors involved. However, a number is a number, and without representation you may have a tendency to jump at the initial settlement amount.
It is easy for an insurance adjuster to add up a figure in order to reimburse all tangible costs accumulated, and even tally up the financial losses from downtime at a job. But how do you calculate monetary compensation for pain and suffering, or the what-could-have-been costs? This is another reason why it is important to retain an attorney who understands and is experienced in interpreting the complicated intricacies of personal injury law.
Injury damages are split into three categories:
- Economic Damage―The easiest to define, this is medical expenses, wages lost (past and future), and general "real" expenses.
- Non-Economic Damage―The vague category of "what ifs." Other things considered besides pain and suffering are emotional distress and loss of quality of life.
- Physical Disfigurement and Impairment―Consequences and costs of irreparable physical harm or permanent disability.
Insurance companies tend to multiply the easily assessed monetary figure (economic damage) by a number based on the extent of the injury in order to calculate a settlement amount for the subjective (non-economic damages). If the injuries are minor, the economic cost is multiplied by 1.5 or 2 to devise non-economic settlement figure. The worse the injury, the higher the number used (going up to 10).
If you have been injured in an accident, it's a good idea to seek counsel from an experienced attorney. Check out our Personal Injury Attorneys page on this site.
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