Is Colorado a No-Fault State for Car Accidents?
To get the main question out of the way, no, Colorado is no longer a no-fault state when it comes to car accidents. Colorado switched to a tort system several years ago. This system means that a person injured in a car accident can no longer receive personal injury protection (PIP) benefits from their own insurance policy. PIP allowed anyone injured in a car accident to file a claim for medical bills and lost wages with their own insurance without having to wait for a determination of fault. While Colorado has a medpay statute, the minimum amount of $5,000.00 is what most people have and it is typically used up very quickly.
The tort system means that those injured in car accidents have to go through the at-fault driver's insurance to get coverage for their medical bills (above medpay), lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, etc. This makes it much more difficult to receive proper compensation.
The difficulty in getting compensation brings in the need for a local, Colorado lawyer. With the no-fault system, it was easy to handle a personal injury claim on your own. Now it is very likely that to get compensation the two parties will have to settle or go to court, and a lawyer is crucial for both of those options.
The determination of fault is crucial in a tort system. When law enforcement is on the scene of an accident, they are working to determine who was at fault. They do this by interviewing witnesses and determining the possible causes of the accident. After this, they assign a percentage of fault to the parties involved in the accident. This percentage is very important in a tort system.
The percentage of fault matters because it can affect compensation. In Colorado, to be able to seek compensation, you need to be less than 50% responsible for the accident you were in, but that does not mean that you will receive full compensation. For example, if you suffer $100,000 worth of injuries but were found to be 30% at fault for the accident, you will only end up receiving a maximum of $70,000 for your injuries.
Colorado Accident Statistics
Unfortunately, car accidents are not known for their rarity. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that in 2017, 33% of Colorado’s fatal crash deaths were car occupants, and the total number of fatal vehicle accidents was 648. This statistic does not even begin to touch on non-fatal accidents, which are even less rare. Getting injured in an accident is a life-altering event and something shared by far too many people.
These facts can make you feel like a number when dealing with insurance companies, especially outside of a no-fault system. What you are going through is unique and should not be brushed aside. Being made to feel like you are just another statistic is something that nobody with an injury should be made to go through. Having somebody on your side to fight for you can help you feel more comfortable and allow you to heal with peace of mind.
Consulting an Attorney
I have been practicing law in the Longmont, Boulder, Firestone, and Brighton areas for over 27 years and have handled thousands of personal injury cases. Handling an insurance company operating within a tort system on one’s own is ill-advised. It is no longer the simple case of placing a phone call to your own insurance company.
Insurance companies are businesses and businesses first. They will fight to keep from paying money out, and that is why you need someone who will fight for you. Having a lawyer will prevent you from making a drastic mistake. This could be anything from settling for less than you deserve or not receiving compensation at all. I know the ins and outs of insurance companies, and I will fight for you to receive the compensation you deserve.