Car Crashes – Legal Help In Colorado
Have You or a Loved One Been Injured in a Car Accident?
Vehicle accidents are the most common personal injury suffered in the United States. Unlike what most people think, these don’t consist solely of car collisions—usually due to distracted driving, driving under influence, or reckless driving. Instead, they encompass a variety of accidents involving trucks and buses, taxi or Uber/Lyft vehicles, motorcycles, and even scooter or bikes. The injured party may be one of the drivers, a passenger, or even passers-by.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a traffic accident, you may claim compensation for personal injury from the at-fault party. Your chances of success are much higher if you hire right away an experienced attorney to help you with the process and if you know what to do at the time of the accident.
What to Do at the Time of the Accident
Safety Comes First
- Provided that the accident does not leave you with a serious injury on the road, remove yourself and other people from danger. Once everyone is safe, check yourself and others involved for injuries.
- Call 911 or the local police department to care for anyone injured, restore traffic, and record the accident.
- Stay calm and avoid any confrontational actions, such as aggressive behavior, that could compromise your case.
Document the Incident
- Record the name, contact details, and insurance policy data of the at-fault driver or other third parties.
- Take photos of the scene before the vehicle(s) are moved out of the traffic’s way, preferably from different angles. Make sure you take shots of injuries, car damages, and any visible conditions that contributed to the incident, such as oil spills, obstacles on the road, etc. Include the surroundings and the license plates of both involved vehicles in your photos.
- If there are any witnesses, note their contact details.
- Take notes of the timeline of the incident as precisely as you can.
File a Police Report
The official police record of the accident’s circumstances is a key piece of evidence for your compensation claim.
- When you make your statement, stick to the facts. You may be called to repeat your statement several times during the compensation process, therefore keep it straightforward, avoid ambiguity, and include any details that may be important for forensic evidence.
- When asked to state your injuries, insist that you will report them after a medical consultation. One of the most common errors made after an accident is stating that you are fine, only to discover a short time later that the accident caused injuries that were not readily obvious.
- Keep the police report number and the officer’s name and badge number for reference.
Contact Us to Get Started
Get to a Hospital
Many people walk away from a crash with minor injuries—or so they believe. Sadly, many injuries, from whiplash to dangerous internal injuries, may be unnoticeable at first. You need a licensed medical professional to examine you.
The other reason to see your doctor right away is to document that your injuries were sustained from the accident. Insurance companies require sound documentation before they grant you compensation. Official medical documentation immediately after the accident helps support your claim.
As soon as you can leave the scene of the accident, seek a medical evaluation of your injuries and condition. Keep all receipts that can prove the consultation and expenses, as well as the medical report proving your injuries.
The most common types of injuries from crashes include:
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): A disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by force applied either directly to your head or by the brain hitting your skull through sudden force. Everyone is at risk for a TBI, especially children and older adults.
- Broken Bones/Fractures: When force is applied through a car accident, sometimes bones may break inside the body. Some broken bones can heal over time while others require surgical intervention.
- Lumbar or Cervical Disk Injury: Sometimes called a bulging, protruding, or ruptured disk, these injuries can involve nerves or even your spinal cord. Depending on the severity, people with disk injuries can suffer from pain, numbness, paralysis, or even death.
- Facet Joint Injury: Facet joints can be found between each vertebra of the spine. They act to guide and limit movement during spinal motion. If the facet joints are disrupted by trauma, they can cause pain or instability in your neck or back.
- Muscle Strain: Muscle strains occur when your muscle is overstretched or overworked. This injury is often seen associated with whiplash, where the force of the crash causes your body to quickly accelerate and then promptly decelerate or stop.
- Lacerations: Lacerations are cuts. Some cuts will only require a bandage and may heal successfully on their own. Others may require stitches and could leave terrible scarring.
- Burns: Burns are tissue damage that can be caused by extreme heat or contact with chemicals. Airbags deploy because of a chemical reaction. While an airbag can save your life, it may also leave you with a chemical burn.
File a Claim with Your Insurance Company
The next step is to report the accident to the insurance company as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours, to ensure you meet the insurance company’s requirements. You or the appointed solicitor should send the insurance company a notice of claim stating the names and contact details of the at-fault party, your own information, the date and time of the accident, and your personal injury claim.
The insurance company needs to hear the facts and details from you. Keep it simple—for example, “He drove through the intersection, ignored the red light, and hit my passenger side door.” Avoid passionate language such as, “He was speeding like crazy, drove right through that red light, and totally wrecked my car!” Emotional descriptions do not help your insurance company and will be hard to remember if you have to repeat them over and over in the following weeks.
What You Can Claim Compensation for
You can claim compensation for special damages or damages that can be calculated exactly, such as medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, loss of earning ability, and reimbursement for the repair or replacement of your vehicle.
You may also claim compensation for damages that cannot be calculated exactly, such as pain and suffering.
Vehicle Accidents and Compensation Claims
When a car accident occurs, the key to claiming compensation is to determine liability, or the party at fault for the accident.
Proving negligence or reckless driving allows a court to determine the person liable for the injury. Negligence occurs when a driver ignores road and safety rules and can include anything from driving drunk to ignoring road signs and poor car maintenance. Under Colorado law, any driver or vehicle passenger hurt by a negligent driver is entitled to full compensation for their losses. A personal injury claim can include compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Long-term disability, disfigurement, or loss of limb
- Emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life
- Lost wages during recovery
- Loss of earning capacity during recovery or due to long-term disabilities
Accidents that involve two cars are usually settled easily, especially if no one is seriously injured. There are, however, cases that are particularly complicated. You should consider appealing to a specialized lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that your claim is not rejected and that you receive maximum compensation.
Semi-Truck vs Car
Semi-truck accidents are on the rise, as there is an increasing number of trucks on the roads. It is estimated that by 2030, accidents involving large trucks could be the fifth-highest cause of death in the USA.
Driver fatigue and distracted driving are the most common causes of road accidents involving professional drivers. Under tight deadlines, truck drivers—often under strict company orders—may fail to abide by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules that regulate driving, break, and rest hours. Poor truck maintenance and improper cargo loading are other common causes of such accidents.
Sadly, 90% of the fatalities in semi-truck vs car accidents are the occupants of the car vehicle: an 18-wheels, 40-tonne semi-truck colliding with a car imposes on the car passengers tremendous, potentially lethal force.
What Makes Semi-Truck vs. Car Accident Claims Complex
Truck accident cases are usually complex and handle heavy amounts of documentation, including truck black box recordings, driver health and DUI tests, truck logbooks, maintenance records, etc. The compensation process in claims arising from such accidents can be long and complicated for several reasons:
- In truck accidents, not only the truck driver but also the truck company, truck maintenance company, carrier company, and even the manufacturer of truck parts can be found liable for the injury. Attributing liability correctly among them often requires expert opinions and a long stretch of time.
- Serious injuries mean longer recovery times, higher medical costs, and a greater loss of income, unfolding over extended periods of time. Therefore, the injured party may have to wait longer to claim compensation in order to include these costs in their claim.
- Semi-trucks usually have insurance coverage up to or even topping 1 million dollars. Insurance companies will not proceed with such large payouts without trying to minimize their loss through long negotiations. For the same reason, they will look for negligence in the car driver’s actions.
Motorcycle accidents are a common occurrence on the road. A shockingly high 80% of all motorcycle accidents kill or injure at least one person, mostly due to the limited physical protection of motorcycle drivers in case of a collision. While cuts and bruises, whiplash, and broken bones are common injuries in less severe accidents, nearly 50,000 motorcycle drivers suffer from serious head, chest, or severe lower-body injuries every year in the United States. A staggering 2,000 motorcyclists are killed on American roads annually.
Most motorcycle accidents concern head-on or rear-end collisions with an automobile, with two-thirds of the accidents caused by the other vehicle violating the motorcycle’s right-of-way or failing to slow down. A common occurrence is car drivers claiming they did not see the motorcycle at all or they saw it too late to prevent the accident.
What Makes Motorcycle vs. Car Accident Claims Complex
The most critical issue with compensation claims in case of a motorcycle accident is proving car driver liability. Unfortunately, many motorcycle drivers involved in accidents may not follow the road code or safety regulations such as having the proper insurance and license, wearing a safety helmet and gear, etc. In such cases, the involved car driver may claim that the accident was not their liability or claim comparative negligence and partial liability.
Moreover, the car driver’s insurance company may challenge compensation for any injuries and damage sustained while the motorcyclist tried to avoid a collision and not directly caused by impact with the car.
Hit-and-run accidents are another sad occurrence. When there are no eyewitnesses, an injured motorcyclist may never find out who the perpetrator is to claim compensation.
Accidents Involving a Bus
Bus accidents are relatively uncommon and cause a small percentage of injuries across the US, as the number of buses in circulation is comparatively low and buses need to comply with federal and state safety regulations.
Due to their large size, however, buses are more dangerous than other vehicles when involved in a traffic accident. Moreover, bus accidents involve a higher percentage of passenger injuries because they lack a car’s safety features. Also, 40% of bus accidents involve school buses, where passengers are mostly children and, therefore, prone to injury and stress.
If you or your loved one were injured in a bus accident, either as a bus passenger or as the driver or passenger of a car hit by the bus, you may be able to file a claim for damages for your injuries and losses. Bus companies usually offer a settlement to close such claims. However, it is not always a good idea to accept a settlement without previous legal advice. The offered settlement may not cover your real medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, while a different course of action may result in a fairer compensation for you.
What Makes Bus vs. Car Accident Claims Complex
Buses are typically commercial vehicles, which means that liability does not rely solely on the bus driver. The bus owner, which may be a company or even the state, may also be liable. This is especially the case if they failed to comply with due diligence regulations when hiring and training the bus driver or if they did not perform the necessary annual performance checks, tests, and medical examinations.
While this may sound straightforward, it should be noted that:
- Government agencies, such as public transportation departments, are under sovereign immunity against most lawsuits. To claim compensation for your injury, you will either need to prove negligence on the part of the agency or to sue the driver as a private individual. Either way, you have 6 months to bring your claim against a governmental agency.
- Private companies are backed by large insurance companies and have solid legal teams and resources. Unless you have an experienced advocate on your side to defend your rights vigorously, they will try to limit their liability and minimize the amount of compensation they will pay.
Uber/Lyft/Ride-Sharing Accident Claims
Do you hail a taxi on the street or order an Uber, Lyft, or another ride-sharing service these days?
If you chose the latter, you are not alone, as ride-sharing has gained in popularity over the past years. Unfortunately, the number of claims involving a ride-sharing car has also increased correspondingly. After all, ride-sharing drivers are not necessarily trained professionals and can be involved in car accidents just like any other vehicle driver. However, if an accident happens, things may not be as straightforward for those seeking compensation.
Under Colorado law, ride-sharing companies need to provide their drivers with accident insurance of at least 1 million dollars per incident. This covers claims by passengers as well as from other vehicle drivers, either during a ride or while the driver is driving to pick up a passenger. The ride-sharing company also covers claims while the driver is online and marked as available to take a ride ($50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident as of 2022). If the driver is offline, then the ride-sharing company bears no liability.
The compensation varies depending on the status of the at-fault driver at the moment of the accident: were they providing services to a customer? Were they available on the online system, or were they offline? These questions must be answered before it becomes clear if insurance is available. It is, therefore, not always easy to determine liability under such circumstances. As expected, the involved insurance companies will do their best to minimize the compensation they will have to pay.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Assist You in Case of Car Accident
After an accident, you may be recovering from injuries or emotional stress. You may need to focus all your energy on recovering and dealing with important consequences. The last thing you need at this stage is to get involved in bureaucratic processes, feel pressure from insurance companies and opponent legal teams, or have to decide on negotiations and settlements on your own.
An experienced accident attorney can handle the claim in your best interest, . Attorney fees are usually taken as a percentage of settlements the client receives, without you having to pay anything upfront.
A Personal Injury Attorney specializes in Injury or Tort Law. Our attorneys at Legal Help in Colorado are experienced in representing injured persons toward all parties involved in the injury, including the at-fault party, the insurance company or companies, and the courts when necessary. Although you may file your own claim without being legally required to hire an injury lawyer, your chances of receiving fair compensation are much higher if you get legal representation.
An experienced car accident lawyer has your best interest in mind in a way that none of the other involved parties do. They can help you with the following:
- Determining and respecting legal statutes of limitation. Your lawyer will advise you if you need to claim compensation immediately or if you should wait for related costs to evolve, while keeping in mind the statute of limitation.
- Investigating your case thoroughly. An experienced car accident attorney will guide you right after the accident and help you gather in an orderly fashion all necessary documentation, secure evidence, contact witnesses, and gather data before they are lost. This will help ensure that your claim is not rejected because of a missing document, receipt, etc.
- Getting the right medical attention. Your personal injury attorney will ensure that you receive all medical attention necessary to solidly support your claim. They will also advise you on how to document timely and properly your medical injuries to get maximum compensation for them.
- Filing your claim. Filing a claim has specific steps to follow and documents that need to be produced. An expert car accident lawyer knows the process in detail and can handle it for you, thus avoiding the risk of seeing your claim refused for some procedural detail that you might overlook.
- Providing expert opinions. Your personal injury lawyer has a network of trusted experts that can provide the expert opinions your case may require. For example, insurance companies may challenge your injury and claim it pre-existed the accident. In such cases, an expert opinion could be of great support to your claim. An experienced car accident lawyer knows when such expert opinions are needed and can find the best expert for your case.
- Advising you in your dealings with insurance companies or other involved parties. During the investigation of your case, the involved insurance company may ask you to accept an independent medical examination or other expert evaluation. Your lawyer can advise you in such dealings.
- Negotiating a settlement. Insurance companies defend their own interests and will do their best to offer a minimum amount for your injuries, hoping that you will take it and go away. For lack of experience, policyholders often consider that the first offer from an insurance company is the only possible one and accept it, signing off their rights for maximum compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer can handle negotiations with the at-fault party and their legal team without feeling intimidated. If you are facing a large corporation, government agency, or legal team, protect your rights efficiently by having an experienced attorney deal with them. Your lawyer will calculate what a fair settlement would be for your case and will advise you on accepting or refusing a settlement depending on the waiting time you can afford, your need for immediate compensation, and the nature of your accident and injuries.
- Settling the claim through a civil lawsuit. Your injury attorney will help you decide if you can accept a settlement or if you need to take your claim to the state civil court and file a lawsuit. In this case, your attorney will handle your lawsuit and represent you at the state court.
The earlier you hire a car accident attorney, the easier it will be for you to handle your claim and procure the necessary documentation, and the better your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injury with the least stress for you.
Hiring an Injury Attorney is crucial when serious injury or death is involved, since such cases are complex by their nature: The compensation claim is larger, the case is put under more scrutiny, and more documentation, expertise, and proof may be requested.
However, even in less serious accidents, hiring an Injury Lawyer offers you all the above benefits and ensures that you receive better compensation in as little time as possible.
Here at Legal Help in Colorado, we only get paid when you do and will handle your personal injury claim from beginning to end. We will help you choose the best path to receive compensation depending on your needs, facilitate a settlement, or take your case to court if necessary.
Contact Legal Help in Colorado today to schedule a free consultation.