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How negligence works in Colorado

Shawn E. McDermott

Every state has laws for determining negligence in personal injury cases. Since car accidents make up most personal injury cases, they provide insight into Colorado’s process of determining negligence.

Car accidents in Colorado are on the rise over the past few years. The latest data implies a 33% chance that a Colorado motorist will get into an accident during the year. Understanding negligence laws as they stand can help Colorado residents manage any potential personal injury or liability claims.

A change from the no-fault system

In 2003, Colorado changed from a “no-fault” state to a more traditional “tort system” for auto insurance claims. No-fault systems prevent drivers from suing each other for minor damage or injury, as personal insurance policies cover minor damages and medical expenses. Under the tort system, a court or legal settlement must prove at least partial fault before paying out insurance claims.

Now, when a Colorado resident suffers injury in a car accident, they must file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. An insurance adjuster will investigate the accident and either approve or deny the claim. An attorney familiar with Colorado personal injury claims can help injured parties secure due damages.

The statute of limitations to file a civil suit and receive damages is three years in Colorado. Courts cap payouts for non-economic damages at $400,000, which include pain, emotional distress or disability. Injuries resulting in permanent physical impairment are not subject to this limitation, however. Drivers may also recover economic damages including subsequent medical expenses and lost wages.

Colorado also uses contributory negligence when determining damages. Typical uses include countersuits, where a defendant asserts the plaintiff was at least partially responsible for the accident. If proved, a court may prevent a plaintiff from collecting damages or may rule to reduce them to reflect one’s role in the accident.

Asses a claim with a local attorney

Those injured after a car accident can get their claim assessed by contacting an attorney familiar with personal injury law. A lawyer can help navigate complicated insurance paperwork and can help work out the details of a settlement.

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