A motor vehicle accident is often a very expensive ordeal. Depending on the circumstances of the crash, medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages could reach tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Many Colorado drivers simply do not have insurance policies that cover all of these expenses. In these situations, at-fault drivers may find themselves on the hook for damages their insurance policies do not cover.
Colorado does require all drivers to carry certain amounts of minimum liability coverage. Specifically, all Colorado drivers must carry the following amounts of coverage:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury or death
- $50,000 per incident for total bodily injury or death claims
- $15,000 for property damage
These are only the minimum amounts of liability coverage required by Colorado law. Drivers are free to purchase additional coverage from their insurance companies.
Optional Insurance Coverage
One type of optional coverage drivers may purchase is uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
This coverage replaces the insurance an at-fault driver should have had to cover the victim’s medical expenses.
Drivers also have the option of purchasing uninsured property damage coverage. In addition, collision and comprehensive coverage can cover property damage.
Another type of optional coverage drivers may purchase is medical payments coverage.
Medical payments are first paid, in the following order of priority, to these providers:
- Licensed ambulances (including air ambulances) that provided care to the victim at the scene of the accident or immediately following an accident. This also includes transporting a victim to a trauma center.
- Trauma physicians that provided initial care to the victim.
- Level IV or V trauma centers that either provided the initial care to the victim or stabilized the victim.
- Level I, III, or III or regional pediatric trauma centers that provided initial care to the victim or stabilized the victim.
A reserve fund is used to pay these claims. However, these funds are only held for thirty days after notice of the accident is received. After thirty days, other providers may file a claim for reimbursement.
These payments are issued without taking fault into account.
Even with these extra optional coverages, motor vehicle insurance may be insufficient to cover damages.
At this point, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover damages.
The Phases of a Lawsuit
To file a lawsuit, Colorado personal injury attorneys draft a document called a complaint. The complaint lays out the details of the accident, as well as the at-fault party’s role in the crash. This complaint is filed with the court and served on the at-fault party.
The at-fault party must then respond to the complaint in a document called an answer. In the answer, the at-fault party replies to the allegations laid out in the complaint.
At this point, the parties enter what is called the discovery phase. During discovery, the parties may request documents and other pieces of evidence from each other. They may take depositions and may schedule hearings if necessary.
Once the parties believe that they have enough evidence to settle the case, they may begin settlement negotiations. The parties may discuss a settlement through their attorneys, or they may hire a mediator to help them reach an agreement.
If the parties cannot settle the case, it will be necessary to go to trial. However, the majority of cases settle long before a trial becomes necessary.
If your case must go to trial, your attorney will make sure you are thoroughly prepared for court.
The decision to settle a case is yours. Your Denver car accident attorney will advise you, of course, but you are free to accept the insurance company’s offer if you would like to settle and finalize your claim.
Call Jennifer Donaldson Today to Discuss Your Legal Options
Denver personal injury attorney Jennifer Donaldson has represented motor vehicle accident victims for 30 years. Ms. Donaldson will provide an honest assessment of your potential claim in a free initial consultation. To schedule your consultation, contact us at 303-458-5000 today.