Automobile accidents happen all across Colorado each and every day. These accidents happen for a number of reasons. A few of the most common causes of auto accidents include driver impairment, negligence on the part of a driver, overloaded vehicles, driving while tired, poor weather conditions, faulty vehicle components (such as tires or brakes), malfunctioning traffic lights or missing traffic signs, or the unexpected presence of pedestrians or bicyclists on the roadway. When you are injured or have suffered property damage to your vehicle as a result of an automobile accident, you need to be financially compensated. You should reach out to an experienced Colorado auto accident lawyer to help you get the justice you deserve.
Statute of Limitations
When you are involved in an automobile accident in Colorado, one of the first things that you should be mindful of is that there is a limited amount of time in which you have to act on a personal injury or property damage claim and file a lawsuit. The statute of limitation for filing a lawsuit on either of these bases under normal circumstances is two years from the date of the accident. Normal circumstances are typical auto accidents involving two (or more) privately or commercially used or owned vehicles.
A different statute of limitation applies if the accident you were in involves the state or local government in some way, e.g., your accident involved a municipality vehicle, such as a snow plow, or a city-owned bus. The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against the government is substantially shorter, sometimes just six months, depending on which level of government is responsible for your injuries. Furthermore, you do not generally sue the government, but instead you must file an administrative claim.
Regarding filing a claim with your insurance provider, or the other driver’s insurance, you should take action immediately to let the insurance company know that you have been involved in an accident. Filing your claim with your insurer protects your rights, and allows for you to get compensated more quickly.
Colorado Is A Comparative Fault State
It is also important that you understand that Colorado is a comparative fault state when it comes to automobile accident liability. This means that rather than the accident being entirely your fault, or entirely the other driver’s fault, liability for the accident can be shared between you and the other driver. If you, for example, are even partially at fault for causing the accident, the court will determine your share of the liability in terms of percentage and will deduct that percentage from your damages total. If you are considered to have been at least 50% or more responsible for causing the accident, you will get nothing.
By way of illustration, let’s say you were involved in an accident where you entered an intersection, admittedly without looking, and your vehicle was struck by another driver who failed to stop at a stop sign. Your car is totaled in the accident, and you received a few scratches and cuts, but largely you are physically ok. The other driver’s car is damaged, but he is ok as well. You decide to sue the other driver for the damage to your vehicle, and for your injuries, and you are asking for $100,000 in damages to cover your costs.
If the court determines that your failure to check the intersection makes you 10% responsible for causing the accident, your percentage of the fault is $10,000. Your share of the fault is subtracted from your damages. $100,000 – $10,000 = $90,000 is the maximum amount that you could recover if you are considered to be 10% at fault under the comparative fault laws used in Colorado.
Required Elements for An Automobile Negligence Claim
Since Colorado is a comparative fault state, showing that the other driver was negligent, and at least more negligent than you, is key to getting compensation as a result of your lawsuit. To prove negligence there are three main elements that must be shown:
- The Other Driver Was Not Reasonably Careful. All drivers have a duty of reasonable care when they are behind the wheel. When a driver deviates from the reasonable level of care exercised by other people in a similar situation, the driver is considered to be acting negligently, and will be held liable for any harm or damage he or she causes.
- You Suffered An Injury and/or Monetary Loss. If you suffer an injury, lost wages and/or property damage at the hands of another in an automobile accident, you are entitled to financial compensation from the negligent other driver. In an automobile accident lawsuit, you will need to provide evidence of your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages if you needed to take time off from work due to your injuries, and the damage to your vehicle. Document everything by putting it down in writing, collecting receipts or bills, and taking pictures of your injuries and damaged property.
- Your Injury and/or Monetary Loss Was Caused By The Negligence Of The Other Driver. You must be able to prove that your injury, lost wages and/or property damage are the fault of the negligent other driver. There are several ways to accomplish this.
- No-Doubt Accidents. Some automobile accidents simply scream negligence, such as a rear-end collision, or an collision that results from an improper left turn. These types of accidents are commonly referred to as “no-doubt” liability accidents, because by the simple fact that these types of accidents happen at all is evidence that the other driver was not paying attention and acted negligently.
- Police Report. When the police arrive at the scene of an auto accident, they prepare a report based on their observations, witnesses statements and the statements of the parties involved in the accident. If the officer’s believe that a party broke a traffic law, and they record that opinion in the police report, it can be used as evidence of the other driver’s fault.
If you have been involved in an automobile accident and you are considering filing a lawsuit against the other driver, you should seek out the help of an experienced Colorado automobile accident lawyer. At The Law Offices of Gabriel N. Schwartz, P.C., we work tirelessly to help protect and preserve your rights. We can help you get the financial compensation that you deserve after a car accident. Contact us today.