In 2003 Colorado changed from a “no-fault” state in order to lower car insurance premiums and help prevent claims abuses. Colorado now operates as a tort system. What does this mean for your case?
Although some attorneys and insurance companies refer to Colorado as a “fault” state, this term can be somewhat misleading. In essence, this term alludes to the legal theory of modified comparative negligence, which means that if someone suffers an injury in a car crash, he or she can sue the party who caused the crash for damages as long as there is evidence to support the claim. A jury then determines how much each party contributed to the crash and how much the plaintiff can receive in damages.
Unfortunately, even cases that seem clear cut can be time-consuming and expensive to try in court, which makes it especially important for those who have been injured in a crash to retain an experienced car crash attorney who will aggressively represent their interests.
In car crash cases, juries are required to address two basic issues, including:
- How much the plaintiff could have recovered if he or she had not contributed to the car crash; and
- How much each party’s negligence contributed to the crash, which is expressed as a percentage.
For instance, if a jury finds that an injured party suffered $100,000 worth of damages, but was 30 percent at fault in causing the crash, it the net verdict would only award the injured party $70,000. This is because the total damages of $100,000 would be reduced by the plaintiff’s portion of responsibility, which in this scenario was 30 percent.
However, if the roles were reversed and the jury found that the injured party was 70 percent at fault, he or she would be unable to recover any damages at all, even though another party also contributed to the crash.
This is because under Colorado’s modified comparative fault rules, injured parties are not permitted to collect damages from other at-fault drivers if they were 50 percent or more responsible for the crash.
Injured parties may be required to foot the bill for expensive medical treatments, such as surgery and medications, as well as vehicle repair or replacement. Many who sustain injuries in car crashes are also required to take at least some time off from work, which can make it even more difficult to cover expenses.
Fortunately, victims can collect compensation from the at-fault parties in court, which can make all the difference in a person’s ability to begin the long process of recovery. However, it can be difficult to establish who was primarily responsible for a car crash and a failure to present strong evidence can lead a jury to decide that a driver was 50 percent at-fault rather than 49 percent, which can have devastating consequences and leave a victim without further legal recourse.
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If you live in Colorado Springs, Denver, or Pueblo and suffered an injury in a car crash, please contact McCormick & Murphy, P.C. at 888-668-1182 to speak with an experienced car crash lawyer who can help explain your legal options.February 14, 2017 | A Guide to Maximizing Your Auto Settlement