Colorado Legal Digest – February 2023 Newsletter

Feb 28, 2023


Most personal injury cases are settled without going to trial. But when the insurance company refuses to budge from a lowball offer, or chooses to dispute the circumstances of the accident or the seriousness of the resulting injuries, the law firm of Franklin D. Azar & Associates isn’t reluctant to take the case to a judge and jury.

This month we highlight two recent verdicts in northern Colorado — hard-earned courtroom victories obtained by attorneys determined to seek justice for their clients.

JURY AWARDS $112,000 IN LOVELAND CRASH$112000 Jury Verdict by Attorneys Alexander Beale and Dylan Unger

A rear-end collision in Loveland in 2020 left a 26-year-old emergency medical technician with hip, back, and head injuries. The other driver’s insurance company disputed that their driver was at fault for the crash and disputed that the Azar client’s injuries were serious or even a result of the crash. Their best offer before trial was less than 80% of the medical bills incurred by the Azar client, who experienced memory issues and other cognitive challenges following the crash.

A Larimer County jury awarded the Azar client $160,000 in compensation and found that the other driver was 70% at fault for the crash, reducing the amount of the award to $112,000 under Colorado’s comparative negligence law. The client was represented at trial by Azar attorneys Dylan Unger and Alexander F. Beale. Unger expects the final amount recovered, including interest and costs, to be more than $150,000.

“I’m glad the jury recognized the severity of the head injury and the kind of impact that has on someone,” Unger says.

Attorney Beale adds, “This was a hard-fought case. Justice persevered in the end, and we secured a victory for our client. Closing the book on a difficult chapter in our client’s life on a positive note is what it’s all about.”

HIGHWAY CRASH LEADS TO $176,000 VERDICT$176000 Jury Verdict by Senior Attorney DezaRae LaCrue

In early 2021 the driver of a large Dodge truck failed to adjust to a traffic slowdown and struck the car ahead of him on I-25 near the Berthoud exit. The Azar client, a passenger in the rear-ended vehicle, was diagnosed with a concussion and neck and lower back injuries.

Although the truck driver took responsibility for the collision, the case was complicated by the Azar client’s participation in motorcross sports. She had been involved in a motorcycle accident ten months before the highway crash and another one a few weeks after the I-25 collision. The insurance company contended that her injuries were a result of a pre-existing condition (from the first motorcycle accident) or from subsequent trauma (the second motorcycle accident). But at trial Azar senior attorney DezaRae LaCrue presented medical records and expert testimony that indicated her client had been doing well before the rear-ender and was displaying symptoms of serious back injury before the second motorcycle accident.

The jury awarded the plaintiff $176,000; LaCrue says the judgment, with interest, now stands at $208,000 and will increase after she has filed for costs.

“With facts this complicated, things could have gone a different way,” LaCrue says. “The whole lesson here is that you’ve got to look closely at the medical records and be very detail-oriented.”

Tough cases. Determined advocacy. The Azar team won’t settle for less.


The law firm of Franklin D. Azar & Associates recently reached sizable settlements on behalf of injured people in three tough cases, all of them examples of the tenacity of our team in pursuit of justice for our clients.

CASE ONE: GETTING THE INSURANCE COMPANY TO DO THE RIGHT THINGErica Vecchio $500000 Settlement for Pueblo Car Wreck

Last summer a single mother in Pueblo suffered serious back and leg injuries in a crash caused by a younger driver improperly turning in front of her. Although the crash victim incurred more than $300,000 in medical bills, the at-fault driver’s insurance company initially treated the matter as a “low impact” accident. By meticulously documenting her client’s medical costs and treatment needs, Azar senior attorney Erica Vecchio was able to achieve a $500,000 settlement. “After we showed them what was involved, they did what they were supposed to do,” says Vecchio.

CASE TWO:  CHALLENGING THEIR EXPERTSJordan Coley $450000 Settlement for Commerce City Car Wreck

A 2020 crash in Commerce City left a young woman facing neck surgery and months of recovery. The at-fault driver’s insurance company offered to settle for $200,000 and brought in medical and accident reconstruction experts to dispute the circumstances of the crash and the severity of the injuries. “It was a highly litigated case,” says Azar attorney Jordan Coley. “They tried to say the neck surgery didn’t have anything to do with the crash.” A few weeks before the case was scheduled for trial, Coley and her client achieved a settlement of $450,000.

CASE THREE: “WE PUSHED AND PUSHED”Jordan Coley $450000 Settlement for Larimer County Car Wreck

Coley also recently settled a case in Larimer County, stemming from a 2019 intersection collision in Fort Collins that left our client with neck and back injuries; the other driver was cited for running a stop sign. The Azar team helped the client, who didn’t have ready access to health care, obtain necessary treatments. But the defendant’s insurance company denied liability and disputed the necessity of the medical care she received, claiming a pre-existing condition. “We were not falling for their arguments,” Coley says. “We pushed and pushed.” The case settled for $350,000.



Colorado Car Thefts


Colorado has the dubious distinction of having the worst car theft rate in the nation, and a new report from the Common Sense Institute suggests that isn’t going to change any time soon. In 2021 roughly 37,000 vehicles were reported stolen in the state, and reports for the first half of 2022 suggest the total might run as high as 48,000 this year.

The 2021 theft total works out to 661 thefts per 100,000 people, outdistancing Washington, D.C., and California for the highest rate of thefts in the country.  Nationally, auto thefts have been on the increase in recent years, with 804,000 stolen vehicles in 2020 alone, valued at more than $7 billion. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a car is stolen every 39 seconds in the U.S.

Colorado’s high rate has been the subject of heated political debate, with some calling for tougher penalties for car theft and other measures. Whatever the reasons behind the increase, it’s clear that car theft remains largely a crime of opportunity. Denver is the epicenter of the state’s theft epidemic, with lower-income neighborhoods and owners of less expensive cars disproportionately affected. The leading location for thefts is Denver International Airport, where vehicles left behind by those flying out of state are prime targets.

Surprisingly, in up to half of all car theft cases, driver carelessness contributes to the problem. A great deal of the theft problem can be avoided by taking a few common-sense precautions. Here are a few tips recommended by the NHTSA and auto theft prevention experts:

  • Don’t leave your car running unattended. So-called “puffer” vehicles that drivers have left idling to warm up on cold winter mornings draw thieves like crazy, which is why so many Colorado municipalities have laws limiting or prohibiting the practice.
  • Don’t make it easy. Take your keys, lock all windows and doors, and park in a well-lit area. If you have access to a garage, use it to protect your car, not for random storage.
  • Never leave valuables in your vehicle, especially if they are visible to passersby.
  • Add after-market barriers to theft. Most vehicles have some form of anti-theft alarm now, but anything you can do to make a thief think twice is a good thing: steering wheel locks, theft-deterrent decals, flashing lights, or other distractions could help spare your ride.
  • Prioritize theft prevention in your next car purchase. Many newer models offer a range of anti-theft options, from devices that prevent hot-wiring to special computer chips in ignition keys to tracking devices that help the owner recover a stolen vehicle. It also makes sense to check the NHTSA database of stolen vehicle data, which can be used to compare which makes and models seem to be more popular with thieves (or easier to steal).


File a police report. You may need to provide license plate, VIN number, make and model, and other information. Then contact your insurance company to file a claim within 24 hours. If you find the vehicle before authorities do, be sure to let them know of its recovery.


The Car Accident 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 in serious injury cases 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, 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.



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