Car Accident Lawyers in Pueblo CO Answer FAQs
Car accidents are incredibly stressful events. Not only is the shock of the accident fresh in your mind, but now you have potentially life-changing injuries, medical bills, and you’re missing time from work. Insurance companies don’t make it any easier on you. They will offer you as low of a settlement as they think they can get away with. Having car accident lawyers in Pueblo CO manage your claim takes much of the pressure off of you and allows you to move forward with your recover without worrying about expenses. In the article, we’ll discuss some of the most common questions that we are asked by our clients.
Do I need a car accident attorney to litigate my claim?
When it comes to personal injury claims on insurance policies, you don’t need an attorney, but there is good sense to having one negotiate a settlement on your behalf. An attorney is in a position to litigate the claim and take it to trial if need be. Holding that over the insurance company’s head can be a good way to leverage a larger settlement. It’s therefore worth it to hire an attorney when you’ve sustained substantial injuries that require medical treatment or require you to miss time from work. You’re entitled to recover both.
What can I recover in a personal injury claim against a negligent driver?
Injured parties who can prove that their percentage of the blame is less than another party’s can collect both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include medical expenses, lost wages, and any other expenses related to the accident. Noneconomic damages include: pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and damages related to a diminished quality of life.
One thing to bear in mind, however, is that the insurance company is only responsible for paying damages up to the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limit. In Colorado, the minimum policy limit that all drivers are forced to carry is $25,000 for personal injury liability per person, $50,000 for personal injury liability per accident, and $15,000 for property damage.
In cases where an injured party sustains permanent injuries including paralysis or disfigurement, that party stands to recover six- or seven-figure settlements. There is a catch, however. The insurance company is only liable to pay up to the at-fault driver’s policy limit.
What happens if my damages exceed the at-fault driver’s liability coverage?
If insurance will only pay for damages up to a certain amount and your damages exceed the at-fault driver’s liability coverage, you have some options. The first option would be to sue the driver. In a lawsuit against the driver, you can recover the difference between their insurance policy’s coverage and your total damages. There is a catch, however. If the at-fault party does not have significant assets on which to draw, they have the option of discharging the entire debt owed to you in bankruptcy. You can elect to drive them into bankruptcy if you really mean business, but in most cases, you probably want enough money to get you through the period of rehabilitation or, if you can no longer work, the ability to educate yourself in another field.
If you’ve purchased uninsured/underinsured driver’s coverage, you can make a claim on your own policy. In this case, many people also retain lawyers to ensure that they aren’t short-changed by their own insurance company.
The driver fled the scene of the accident or did not have auto insurance. Now what?
Your options are basically the same as they would be if the driver did not have enough liability coverage to cover your damages. You can either sue the driver directly, make a claim on your own uninsured driver policy, or both.
What if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt or the accident is partly my fault?
If you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, then part of the blame will likely be assigned to you for your injuries. But even if the accident was partly your fault, you can recover damages so long as your share of the blame is less than 50%. Your damages are diminished, however, by your percentage of the blame. For example, if you have $10,000 in damages and the other driver is 90% at fault for the accident, your total damages are diminished by 10% or $1000 meaning you are entitled to collect $9000.
The insurance adjuster asked for my medical records. Should I turn them over?
When you retain counsel in a personal injury case, the insurance company or their adjusters cannot talk directly to you. If they do talk to you:
- Refer all queries to your attorney,
- Don’t answer any of their questions, and
- Don’t give them any information.
If you are required to turn information over, your attorney will let you know.
Will I end up in court if I file a personal injury claim?
The majority of personal injury claims are settled outside of court. A decent percentage of them go into litigation. But if the insurance company is willing to play fair with you, there’s no reason not to accept their offer. It will depend on the quality of your case, the benefit of the details, and your medical history. Insurance companies like to muddy the waters when they can and complicate cases. The degree to which they are successful determines how hard they fight the claim. Insurance companies generally don’t want to see cases go to trial. It’s an unnecessary expense on their end.
Should I go to the doctor after an accident?
Yes. Even if you feel great, you should have a doctor check you out. Concussions and other injuries may take a few hours before you notice symptoms. Insurance adjusters will penalize your claim if you don’t see a doctor within a couple of days of an accident.
Something went wrong with my car. Now what?
In some cases, accidents aren’t caused by you or the other driver or safety devices (like airbags) didn’t deploy worsening your injuries. In that case, you may have a case against the car manufacturer or the manufacturer of the part that failed (tires are common in this regard). Your personal injury attorney will thoroughly investigate the accident to ensure all culpable parties are held to account.