In 2019, the Colorado Department of Transportation crash report indicates that there were 1,227 total traffic crashes in La Plata County, Colorado. Getting injured in a car accident can be a scary and emotional experience. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a car accident caused by another person's negligence or carelessness, you have the right to hold the responsible party liable and pursue damages for your injuries.

For decades, Downs, McDonough, Cowan, & Foley, LLC has been handling personal injury cases in Durango, Colorado, and the surrounding area. Our firm has been helping auto accident victims and their families recover verdicts and injury settlements that can help pay for medical expenses and ease the burden of recovery. As your legal counsel, we can evaluate the details of your situation and help you understand all possible legal options that you have at your disposal. 

Our experienced Colorado personal injury attorneys will fight vigorously to protect your rights and help you seek rightful compensation for any injuries, damages, or loss. Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley proudly serve clients across Durango, Colorado, and the surrounding areas of Cortez, Pagosa Springs, Telluride, and The Four Corners.

Proving Liability After A Car Accident

Colorado is considered an "at-fault" state. This means that the driver responsible for the car accident (known as the at-fault party) will be held liable for any injuries, medical expenses, and other property damages suffered by the auto accident victims. If you have been the victim of an accident and wish to recover damages, you can:

  • File a claim with your own insurance.

  • File a third-party claim against the at-fault driver's insurance company.

  • File a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver in civil court.



Colorado Insurance Requirements

In Colorado, drivers are required to carry liability insurance with a minimum coverage limit of:

  • $25,000 liability coverage for bodily injury per person in an accident

  • $50,000 liability coverage for bodily injury to two or more persons in a single accident

  • $15,000 liability coverage for property damage per accident.

State Laws Addressing Personal Injury Claims

There are some important laws to consider that address personal injury claims in Colorado. These laws cover important aspects, such as the time limit you have for filing a claim and the amount of damages that may be recovered. 

Statute of Limitations

The Colorado auto accident statute of limitation states that all tort actions for bodily injury or property damage arising out of the use or operation of a motor vehicle must be commenced within three years of the accident occurring (Colorado Revised Statute 13-80-101(1) (n) (I)).

Comparative Negligence in Colorado

Additionally, the state of Colorado operates using the "modified comparative negligence" rule (Colorado Revised Statutes section 13-21-111). Under this principle, in a personal injury lawsuit, an accident victim may recover damages against any party who was more at fault for the traffic crash. However, your compensation will be reduced by a percentage equal to your level of fault.

For example, if you win a personal injury settlement of $100,000, but the judge finds that you were 20% at fault for the accident, then your compensation will be reduced by $20,000. This means that you will only be eligible to receive $80,000. However, under the modified form of comparative negligence, you will be barred from recovering any damages if you were found to be 50% or more responsible for the accident.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

Wrongful death can be described as a death caused by the negligent or careless actions of another person. Pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes section 13-21-202:

"When the death of a person is caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another, the person who or the corporation which would have been liable, if death had not ensued, shall be liable in an action for damages notwithstanding the death of the party injured."

Who Can File?

Under Colorado law, only a limited number of people are allowed to file a wrongful death action. Who can file is completely dependent upon when the wrongful death suit is filed. 

Within The First Year

The following people may bring a wrongful death action within the first year after the person's death:

  • The decedent's spouse (has exclusive rights).

  • The decedent's heirs with the written consent of the decedent's spouse.

  • In case there is no spouse, the decedent's heirs or designated beneficiaries.

Within The Second Year

The following individuals may be allowed to file a wrongful death action in the second year after the person's death:

  • The decedent's spouse

  • The decedent's heir or heirs

  • The deceased person's spouse and heirs

  • The designated beneficiary.

Statute of Limitation on Wrongful Death Claims

Pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes section 13-21-204, a wrongful death action must be commenced within two years from the date the death occurred.

Work with an Experienced
Personal Injury Attorney

Dealing with the consequences of a negligent auto accident can be overwhelming. Especially if it results in serious injuries, hospitalization, and missed time from work. Having to navigate the aftermath of a car accident on your own can be extremely difficult, resulting in significant challenges to your physical, financial, and mental health. Thankfully, you don't have to face the challenges all on your own. Hence, when you're involved in a car accident, it is important that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your rights and seek deserved compensation.

At Downs, McDonough, Cowan, & Foley, LLC, our team of attorneys has the resources and experience to help you hold the responsible parties accountable for the injuries and damages you’ve suffered. Our extensive knowledge and understanding of personal injury law can help guide you through the complexities of the legal process. We will fight vigorously on your side to protect your rights and help you pursue fair financial compensation that can cover medical expenses, lost wages, future medical treatment, and any additional pain and suffering you’ve been forced to endure. So don’t wait. Call or reach out to our firm today to schedule a free case consultation.


If you or someone close to you has been injured in a car accident, call Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley today to schedule a one-on-one case assessment. Our attorneys will offer you the detailed legal counsel, support, and compassionate representation you need to pursue compensation for your pain and suffering. Our firm proudly represents accident victims throughout Durango, Cortez, Pagosa Springs, Telluride, and The Four Corners, Colorado — so call today to get the help you need!