If you were involved in a car crash in Colorado Springs, you may be feeling overwhelmed. That is why the car accident attorneys at Sears & Associates P.C. have put together this list of some of the most frequently asked questions to help you navigate your legal options after an accident.
1. How do I legally prove the other driver was at fault so that he or she has to pay for the accident?
In some cases, such as when a driver runs a red light and hits a car with the right-of-way, it is easier to determine who was at fault in an accident.
Other times, it is not so cut and dried. To prove that the other driver was at fault and to recover compensation, you must prove that he or she was negligent. To prove negligence, you must establish these four points:
1.The driver owed you a duty: This is the easiest point to establish as all drivers owe other drivers the duty of following traffic rules and regulations such as speed limits and yielding right-of-way when required.
2.The driver breached that duty: You must prove that the other driver failed in his or her duty. This could mean, for example, that he or she changed lanes on the highway without using a signal or checking all blind spots.
3.This breach caused the collision: Under Colorado negligence law, you must also establish that the breach caused the collision rather than for some other reason.
4.You suffered real damages: It is not enough to say you were hurt. You need proof of your injury and other losses such as lost wages.
2. What types of evidence should I collect after a car crash?
If you were injured, the most important piece of evidence to collect after a car crash is a medical assessment of your injuries. Without paperwork from a doctor, you will be unable to recover anything for your injuries. Without an injury, you cannot recover compensation.
You should also collect the following pieces of evidence after a car accident:
- Insurance and vehicle registration information from the other driver
- Eyewitness testimony and contact information of those eyewitnesses
- A copy of the police report
- Photographs of damage to the vehicles, skid marks on the road, or any other relevant items.
3. My injuries from the crash are minor. Can I skip visiting a doctor?
No. Even if you feel fine, you should still visit a doctor after a serious car accident.
Although you may not have physical limitations, you could still be injured. Symptoms for certain injuries are delayed. It is better to be safe where your health is concerned and complete a check-up with your family doctor, just in case.
If you discover that you were injured later, it could be too late to make the driver at fault pay for your medical expenses.
4. If I was partially to blame for the accident, can I still get compensation?
Yes. Colorado uses a “modified comparative negligence” rule. This means that you can recover compensation from the other driver even if you were partially to blame. For example, if you were 10 percent responsible for an accident and the other driver was 90 percent responsible, the other driver will only have to pay for 90 percent of your damages.
However, Colorado law places a limit on this rule. If you were 50 percent or more responsible for the accident, then you cannot recover anything from the other driver. In other words, the other driver only pays you if you were less than 50 percent responsible for the accident.
5. What if a defective car part caused the accident?
If a defective car part caused your accident, you might be able to recover compensation from the car or parts manufacturer. Examples of defective car parts could include an accelerator that sticks in the on position, brakes that fail without warning, or a steering wheel that locks while the vehicle is in motion. This is known as a products liability case and modified comparative negligence (see above) does not apply in this type of case.
6. I do not want to go to court. Is it not easier to just file a claim with the insurance company?
No one really wants to go to court. But you deserve fair compensation for your accident if another person was at fault. Insurance companies are notorious for offering victims low settlement amounts or denying claims unfairly. Without the representation of an accident attorney like the ones at Sears & Associates, P.C., how will you know whether the settlement amount is fair?
The attorneys will know if the settlement the insurance company offers is lower than what is reasonable and can negotiate on your behalf for a higher amount. Only after these negotiations fail will an attorney recommend taking your claim to court.
Feel free to check out our blog for more information on what you need to know if you are in an accident.
Call us to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options: 719-471-1984.