WHO WILL PAY MY MEDICAL BILLS AFTER AN ACCIDENT?
Across the United States, some six million vehicular accidents occur each year, with half of them resulting in injuries, two million of which turn out to be permanent. Suffering injury in any kind of accident is painful and, at times, costly. Medical bills can accumulate quickly and your injuries may prevent you from working.
If you’re involved in an accident that has led to injuries, the attorneys at Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley have the experience and resources to guide you through the injury claim process. We have dedicated our attention to helping victims of personal injury cases. Our firm represents clients in Durango, Colorado, and surrounding areas including Telluride, Pagosa Springs, Cortez, and the Four Corners. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
What Are Your Rights Under Colorado Accident Law?
Since 2003 Colorado has been a “fault” insurance state meaning that when an accident occurs, an investigation is conducted in order to determine the cause, and ultimately the fault that led to the accident.
In a fault state, injured parties have three options for recovering compensation for damages and injuries:
Filing a claim with your own insurance
Filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance
Going to court to file a suit for compensation
Even if you file a claim under your own insurance and it’s later determined that the fault was the other party’s, you can pursue reimbursement from the other party’s insurance later.
When filing a claim with an at-fault party’s insurance, adjusters may offer a low settlement that fails to account for all expenses and injuries incurred. The offer may also come before all medical and future medical needs are determined thereby grossly undercutting fair compensation.
Where disputes in compensation occur or the other party fails to provide just reimbursement, litigation may be necessary.
Damages Covered Under a Personal Injury Claim
Colorado law requires that drivers carry insurance that at a minimum will provide:
$25,000 for each person for any bodily injuries.
$50,000 for each accident if 1 or more are injured.
$15,000 for each accident for damage to property, not including damage to the insured's vehicle
In a personal injury claim or lawsuit, the injured party can seek recompense for all present and future losses and liabilities, including future medical and rehabilitative expenses; lost or diminished income due to time recovering or to a disability; emotional pain, and suffering; and loss of companionship or parenting.
Premises Liability & Personal Injury Claims
Not all accidents that lead to injuries are a result of a car crash. Accidents can also occur on private or public property. In Colorado, if an accident occurs on someone’s private property, the extent of liability is determined by the status of the person injured. If the injured party is a trespasser, the only liability by the property owner is for intentional harm inflicted.
If the person is a “licensee,” someone who has been invited to dinner, for instance, the liability is only for “the landowner’s unreasonable failure to exercise reasonable care with respect to dangers created by the landowner of which the landowner actually knew,” or for dangers not created by the landowner but known by him.
An “invitee,” who is on the premises for business purposes, is in a similar situation to that of the licensee, where only the landowner’s negligence in not warning or advising of dangers to the invitee is actionable.
A notable exception is slips and falls. If you slip and fall on another’s premises, you are liable for your own medical bills unless the landowner carries what is called “med pay” insurance, which may reimburse some or all of your expenses.
Another accident that falls under the umbrella of personal injury is dog bites or animal attacks. In many states, dog bites are covered by the “one bite” rule, meaning the first incident – barring advance knowledge that the animal is dangerous – is forgiven. In Colorado, however, the owner is “strictly liable” for his pet’s behavior, with no first-time exemption.
Why You Should Seek Legal Counsel
After you’ve been involved in an accident, you need to contact your insurance company or the at-fault party’s insurer. However, don’t stop there. Insurance companies by nature will seek to keep their liability and expenses to a minimum. If you settle right away and later on suffer further health or other issues that diminish your well-being, you’re stuck. An experienced personal injury attorney can conduct an investigation into the cause of the accident, gather necessary documentation, negotiate with insurance adjusters, and represent you in court if necessary.
We at Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley are committed to helping people who have suffered from accidents that result from others’ vehicle operation or premises negligence. We will guide you through the entire process and help make sure you are fully compensated for all your losses, even those arising after the initial accident. We are proud to serve clients in Durango, Telluride, Cortez, and Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Call us today for a free consultation.