Sooner or later, most of us have had the experience of being involved in a car accident. In fact, insurance industry surveys indicate that three out of every four drivers on the road have been in at least one crash in their driving careers.
It’s not always clear what to do after an accident. You may be wondering whether it’s worth pursuing a personal injury claim, whether you should be talking to a lawyer, and so on. Here are four key factors to consider when you’re trying to figure out the appropriate course of action.
WHAT ARE YOUR DAMAGES?
Before making any decision about a possible personal injury claim, you should have a clear idea of the extent of your damages, including physical injuries and any property damage involved. It may not be worthwhile to pursue a claim for an incident in which no one was hurt. But you shouldn’t assume that you’re “fine” without a proper medical evaluation. It’s important to go to the emergency room immediately after an accident; some injuries may not be obvious, may not manifest symptoms right away, or might be detectable only with proper tests. In addition to getting a full medical evaluation, you should consult a personal injury attorney regarding the scope of damages that may be compensable, including lost wages, pain and suffering, and other claims.
WHO IS AT FAULT?
Determining liability in an accident is a necessary step in figuring out which driver might have to pay for any damages that occurred. Sometimes, the parties are in agreement about who’s at fault, but the question can be more complicated than it appears. A successful personal injury claim depends on being able to prove the other driver did something wrong. That proof may involve witness statements, physical evidence, a police investigation, expert testimony and more.
Colorado has a comparative negligence law, which means that a jury in a civil case may be asked to consider whether more than one person was at fault in the accident. Plaintiffs are not allowed to recover to the extent of their own negligence; for example, if you are found to be 10% responsible for the accident, your award of damages would be reduced by that amount. If a jury finds that you are 50% or more at fault, you recover nothing.
WHAT ACTIONS HAVE YOU TAKEN THAT HELP OR HURT YOUR CASE?
In highly disputed personal injury claims, the behavior of the parties following the accident can become an issue. Did you promptly seek medical attention? If not, the other side might contend that you didn’t suffer any injuries. Did you make statements to the other driver that could be construed as an admission of fault? What actions you have or haven’t taken since the crash can have a bearing on the outcome of your case.
HOW LONG AGO DID THE ACCIDENT OCCUR?
People sometimes wait months before filing a personal injury claim, or even years — not realizing that a clock called the statute of limitations is ticking away. In Colorado, the time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit in most instances is two years; for car accidents, it’s three years. But if the defendant is the State of Colorado or some other governmental entity, the plaintiff has only 180 days to file a formal claim. As with all the other issues discussed above, it’s advisable to consult an experienced personal injury attorney before making critical decisions about filing your claim, so that you can protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve.
THE CAR CRASH LAWYERS AT FDAZAR
For more than thirty years the attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates have helped thousands of injured people obtain complete and timely compensation for their losses. Our proven track record and expertise have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Thornton, Fort Collins, Greeley, Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. If you’ve been injured in a bus, car, truck, bicycle, or motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call the car accident attorneys at FDAzar day or night at 800-716-9032, or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.