What are the different types of insurance coverages that may apply to my accident?
Bodily Injury Coverage
- Colorado requires that the owner of a motor vehicle carry a minimum of $25,000 bodily injury liability coverage. However, medical bills can accumulate quickly and this mandatory minimum is often insufficient to compensate motor vehicle collision victims. Worse yet is the fact that despite the legal requirement, many motor vehicle collisions are caused by Uninsured Motorists.
Medical Payment Coverage
- Medical Payment Coverage is provided by the victim’s own motor vehicle policy. Although it may be rejected, Colorado law requires all insurance companies to offer motor vehicle customers the right to purchase Medical Payment (Med Pay) Coverage with minimum limits of $5,000. This coverage is available for medical expenses incurred by any person in the vehicle at the time of the collision. Priority for these benefits is given to initial treatment providers such as ambulance and emergency room treatment. Unlike with other types of health coverage, a victim does not need to pay back Med Pay Benefits.
Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM)
- As with Med Pay Coverage, Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage is provided by a victim’s own motor vehicle policy. Colorado requires that all insurance companies offered Motor Vehicle customers the opportunity to purchase Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Protection up to the limits of Bodily Injury Liability coverage. UM/UIM Coverage protects a victim in the event that the at-fault driver is either Uninsured or the limits of the at fault drivers’ Bodily Injury Liability coverage is insufficient to fully compensate the victim(s). However, like Med Pay coverage, UM/UIM coverage may be rejected by the policy holder.
Property Damage Coverage
- Colorado requires that the owner of a motor vehicle carry a minimum limit of property damage coverage of $15,000. This coverage reimburses the victim for damages to vehicle and property caused by the at-fault driver.
Who will pay for repairs to my vehicle?
If you vehicle is repairable, insurance will most likely formulate a repair estimate. They will then either arrange for repairs at a shop selected by the insurance company. If you choose to have the repairs done by this shop, the repairs are generally guaranteed for as long as you own the vehicle. Alternatively, the insurance company will send you a check for the amount of repairs and you can have the vehicle repaired at a shop of your choice.
The insurance company may obtain a rental car for your use while your vehicle is being repaired or for the time until a Total Loss Settlement is offered. Your insurance will cover you while operating a rental vehicle, however, if you will be responsible for the cost of insurance coverage offered by the rental company.
What are Damages?
Damages are physical, financial and/or emotional injuries. There are several categories or compensable damages in Colorado.
Types of Damages:
- Non-Economic Damages include pain & suffering, physical impairment, loss of the enjoyment of life, emotional distress, inconvenience, loss of consortium, and wrongful death.
- Economic Damages include past and future medical costs, lost wages, insurance co-pays, out-of-pocket expenses caused by the incident.
- Property Damage is simply that: Damages to your vehicle, contents or other property.
What exactly is a contingent fee agreement?
Under a contingent fee arrangement, we only recover for our fees if you recover. So, when we recover from your insurance company and the at-fault party, we are paid a percentage of the amount of money recovered. That amount is called the “gross recovery”. Fees and costs are different; “fees” represent the value of our time, whereas “costs” represent “out of pocket” expenses that are necessary to prosecution of your claims. Clients are almost always ultimately responsible for costs, whereas we are not compensated for the time dedicated to your case unless and until we recover.
When should I retain a lawyer for my case?
You should consult with multiple attorneys—that’s right: multiple attorneys—as soon as you feel you have been wronged and need help asserting your rights. First, you should consult with multiple attorneys because you need to find a lawyer with whom you feel most comfortable. Next, it’s important to seek counsel because there may be deadlines—statutes of limitations, repose and the like—that are ticking away. If those deadlines pass and you haven’t sought legal advice, you may have missed your opportunity to bring a lawsuit.
A good lawyer will tell you the best advice—whether or not it means you will retain them. For example, there are many times when certain legal matters are not sufficiently serious that an attorney is required. A good attorney will spot this issue and advise you to attempt to seek recovery on your own, because hiring a lawyer may be too expensive or inappropriate under the circumstances.
All this can be dealt with through an initial consultation, which is free.
I want the defendant to pay me for my attorneys’ fees; aren’t they ultimately responsible to do so?
Absent extraordinary circumstances, people who litigate cases are ultimately responsible for their own fees. However, the best lawyers will look for possible avenues through which you can recover your legal expenses. This can be through a provision in a contract or a Colorado law specifically allowing for the recovery of legal fees by the successful party. When you come in for your consultation, bring all the paperwork pertaining to your dispute so our attorney can determine whether you may have the right to ask the at-fault parties for your attorneys’ fees.
How do I get medical treatment after a Car Accident?
While it is true that the at-fault driver, or the driver’s insurance company, is ultimately responsible for reasonable and necessary medical treatment caused by the collision, they will not pay for the treatment as it is incurred. Rather, reimbursement for medical expenses is negotiated as part of a final settlement. This often leaves a victim wondering how to get treatment and who will pay for that treatment.
If you have private health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, that will usually provide coverage for necessary and reasonable treatment following the collision. In many cases (and in all cases involving Medicare and Medicaid) the provider will have the right to reimbursement of the benefits paid from the victim’s recovery.
If there is no available health coverage, a victim’s only option to get treatment on a lien basis in which the care provider agrees to payment from the potential recovery through resolution of the claim through settlement or verdict. At The Boyle Law Firm, we can analyze all potential sources of coverage to ensure that all available benefits are received in a timely manner so that your recovery is not delayed or diminished by an inability to receive treatment.
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