While cars get safer every year, car accidents and traffic fatalities continue to climb. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, there are about 13 car accidents a minute in the US. The total cost of car accidents was about $474 billion in 2020. Driving is essential to most people’s lives but can be dangerous. After a car accident, many people are shocked and confused. You might have injuries and feel overwhelmed by medical care, insurance proceedings, missed work, car damage, etc. We understand how troubling the time after a car accident can be, so we’ve compiled a list of FAQs with answers from our legal team.
What Is the First Step to Take After an Accident?
Since the moments immediately after an accident can be very disorienting, take a moment to gather yourself. First, ensure your and everyone else’s safety. Then get medical care so you have proper documentation of all your accident-related medical treatment. Once you get appropriate medical care, contact an experienced Denver car accident lawyer. They can help you claim damages or any losses you incurred due to the accident.
What Happens if My Car Is Totaled in an Accident?
The general principle in Colorado is that when someone is at fault for the accident, their insurance company takes on your total loss. Therefore, if your car is totaled, the at-fault party’s insurance will owe you an amount equivalent to the car’s value. Keep in mind they owe you the value of the car at the time of the accident, not when you bought it.
Therefore, the at-fault insurance company should appraise your car and pay you the pre-accident value of your car. Insurance companies always try to pay less than the actual cost of replacing your car. Nowadays, some insurance companies have replacement policies, so if your car is totaled, you get enough compensation to replace your insurance. Such a policy is also known as “gap insurance” since your policy will cover the “gap” between your loss and the actual value you receive. Gap insurance is not usually part of standard policies, so if you want it, you’ll need to ask for it and pay the premium.
Can I Still Seek Compensation if I Am Partially at Fault for the Accident?
Yes, but it depends on how much percentage of fault you contributed to the accident. Since Colorado uses the “modified comparative negligence” rule, you can recover compensation from the other driver, even if you are partially at fault. So if you are 10% responsible for contributing to the accident, you can still seek damage recovery. However, the other party will only be responsible for 90% of the damages since they were 90% at fault.
If you are more than 50% (or more) responsible for the accident, you may not seek compensation from the other driver. You can only seek damage recovery if you are less than 50% responsible for the accident.
What if the Insurance Company Is Offering an Unfair Settlement?
Sometimes, insurance companies make reasonable settlement offers in response to the demand package. If so, you can accept the settlement and finish your claim.
However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes they undervalue claims or make lowball offers. If unsatisfied with the offer, you can proceed to trial for a hearing. Then, a jury or judge can decide on the final amount you get.
Who Will Pay For My Car Damage?
Assuming the other driver has liability insurance, they will pay for your car repairs. They should also cover some or all your rental costs while your car is in the shop. If the insurance company has admitted fault, you can usually handle the negotiation alone.
Car repair costs are pretty straightforward to calculate. Additionally, it’s unnecessary to pay an attorney fee for something you can do yourself and get a fair outcome.
If the other party does not have insurance, you might need to go through your policy for coverage. While it’s not ideal, it’s better than paying for repair costs out of pocket.
What Happens if the At-Fault Party Does Not Have Insurance?
Colorado law requires all drivers to carry liability insurance. Unfortunately, there are still many drivers who don’t have coverage. More and more uninsured drivers are causing accidents these days. You have a few different options if the other party does not have insurance.
First, you can use your uninsured motorist protection if you have it. If you have UIM, your insurance carrier will pay you what the at-fault insurance company would have paid you.
If you don’t have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you could seek damages from the driver personally, which is usually a long and harrowing path.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer After a Denver Car Accident?
While it’s unnecessary for every car accident case, legal counsel is essential if there are any injuries. In order to get compensated for your losses, you need proper guidance with your medical treatment.
Having an attorney fighting in your corner can spell the difference between the success or failure of your case.
Can I Still File a Claim if I Was Injured as a Passenger?
Yes, you can file a claim if you sustained injuries as a passenger. As a passenger, you have several different routes to take. The following types of coverage might apply to you as the injured passenger after an accident:
- The driver’s policy
- The driver’s uninsured or underinsured driver (UM or UIM) policy
- Your UM/UIM policy
- Personal Injury Protection if you have it
If both drivers are partially at fault, here is how you would use each type of coverage:
The Other Drivers’ Liability Policy
You might be eligible for recovery through both drivers’ liability policies. That is, the driver of the vehicle you were in and the other driver’s. Each driver’s insurance would pay their percentage of fault to cover your damages.
Underinsured Motorist Policy (Of Your Driver) or Your UIM Policy
The UM/UIM Policy of your driver could pay for medical bills and other damages related to the accident if the other driver had insufficient coverage. However, if UM/UIM coverage does not fully cover your damages, you might need to use your own UIM policy, even if you don’t own any of the vehicles involved in the wreck.
Personal insurance protection (PIP)
PIP is an add-on type of insurance that covers out-of-pocket medical expenses. It’s often called “no-fault” coverage because it covers damages despite who is at fault. Additionally, it doesn’t matter what the other insurance company will pay. While Colorado does not require PIP (since it is an at-fault state), other states like Florida require PIP.
My Child Was Injured in a Car Accident. Is the Claims Process the Same for Them?
If a child sustains injuries in a car accident, the custodial parents or guardians will file a claim on behalf of the minor. Sometimes they will get a court-appointed lawyer to review the case and approve a settlement for a minor’s injury. The defendant typically pays for this review.
The procedure to get compensation on behalf of a minor (or anyone under 18) varies from state to state. However, a child still has the right to recover damage compensation from accident damages.
Parents and guardians can file for the same damages as regular personal injury or car accident claims. Damages parents can seek for children include pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, permanent injury or disability, and more.
Furthermore, parents usually have a separate right to compensation for the medical bills they pay for their children. Since children cannot negotiate the settlement terms of a claim, a parent will be able to communicate on their behalf or have legal counsel to represent them
Some states require a judge or court approval before settling a minor’s claim.
In such cases, the insurance company usually ensures that all paperwork is properly filed and approved. Failing to do so could mean the child’s attorney could go to court later to claim further damages on behalf of the child.
The Other Person Involved in the Accident Took Photos of Me Without My Consent. Is That Legal?
Yes. This happens pretty often. Nowadays, smartphones are always at arm’s length and might record you after an accident. Or, insurance companies in bad faith could hire private investigators to watch people who have personal injury claims. Their goal is to make it look like you are not as injured as you say you are.
What Do I Say to the Insurance Adjuster After an Accident?
Most insurance policies have a provision that requires swift notice after an accident. Your policy may provide coverage or repairs or rentals too. It’s common for your insurance to act faster than the other insurance company. Therefore all you need to do is call them and set up a claim through your insurer. However, there are a few crucial things you want to avoid telling the adjuster.
First, don’t overshare details about your injuries. If you talk to the insurance adjuster soon after the accident, share as little detail as possible. Your injuries may not have fully developed or presented symptoms yet. Additionally, the sock and adrenaline after a crash can mask the pain for some time after the accident, delaying injury symptoms.
Insurance adjusters are the ones who negotiate settlements, so they will hope to pin down your specific injuries early on. However, you might not even know your injuries’ true extent or severity immediately after the accident. The best approach is to say you aren’t sure and need to be checked by a medical professional. Then contact your attorney.
Will My Car Insurance Rates Increase if My Insurance Company Pays to Repair My Car?
Insurance companies can raise their rates for almost anything. However, that does not guarantee that you should not file a claim after the accident. If you are not at fault for the accident, your rates might go up minimally or not at all. Furthermore, they may not raise your rates if your damage is below a certain dollar amount.
I Am an Undocumented Immigrant and Was Hit by Another Driver. Can I Still File a Claim?
Undocumented immigrants still have legal rights. Whether or not they have residency will not affect their right to file a claim to seek compensation. So, if an undocumented immigrant gets into a crash with another negligent driver, they can still file for damages. The undocumented immigrant has a right to claim the same damages as any other person, including property damage, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
Can I Claim for Lost Wages After a Car Accident?
Lost wages are considered economic damages. On top of lost wages, other financial losses in a car accident claim include medical treatment, property repair, lost wages, and limited earning capacity.
If you miss work due to car accident injuries, Colorado considers that a financial loss for which you can seek compensation. In addition to missed paychecks, if you have a permanent disability, you can seek reimbursement for your lost or reduced earning capacity.
Contact a Denver Personal Injury Lawyer Today
You don’t need to have all the answers after a car accident. However, a collision is traumatic enough, and no one should bear the stress of cleaning up the mess alone. That’s why our team of experienced legal professionals can help you and handle all legal proceedings on your behalf.
If you have any further questions about your case, contact us today. We offer a free initial case review.