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It’s summer! Time to throw everything you own into the car and take off to someplace gorgeous! It’s also a time to welcome your visiting family members who have also thrown all of their belongings in their car to visit you here in the gorgeous state of Colorado, but what happens when they’re in a family car accident while visiting?
If your out of state guests are in a family car accident here in Colorado, they need a Colorado accident attorney – not one from their own state, because every state in the nation has different laws governing their roads. They also have different laws governing insurance companies, and how accident claims are handled. (If you want to fall asleep sometime, try reading up on Colorado’s tort-based accident laws.)
To put it simply: In Colorado, the person who causes the accident is responsible for covering all of the other driver’s damages, medical bills, losses and more. This can be confusing to out-of-staters who come from places where the victim’s own insurance covers all of his or her losses from any accident.
Now, imagine this scenario: Your parents come in from a state with no-fault insurance laws. They get into a family car accident in Colorado. Their car is totaled, and they are facing some injuries. (Though not life-threatening; let’s keep this scenario positive!) Your parents’ instinct will be to call their own insurance company, and would expect them to start writing checks for their losses.
That won’t happen though, because their accident was in Colorado and, therefore, they must operate under Colorado’s laws. This means that they need to prove that the other driver caused their accident, and then wrangle with the other driver’s insurance company to recover all of their losses.
(Aside: While it can sound like an at-fault system might be less fair for victims, it is actually much better for victims of car accidents. Fifteen years ago, Colorado used to be a no-fault state. The benefit of this system was that people were paid relatively quickly by their own insurance companies for their injuries and other losses. But, in order to manage this no-fault system, auto insurance companies set up a health care organization, like an HMO, into which they paid for their customers’ medical costs. Through this HMO, the insurance companies had control over whom their customers could see for their medical needs. Meaning, victims couldn’t choose their own doctors. Another problem with the no-fault system is that victims could not sue for pain, suffering and lost wages unless the medical bills reached or exceeded a predetermined amount, or if the injury was considered severe by state law.)
My advice to you: Colorado accidents should be handled by Colorado attorneys. Don’t let your loved ones travel back to another state after a family car accident without first consulting an attorney. Not only are they going to need someone fighting for them who understands Colorado’s laws, but they need boots on the ground in this state when they are back home trying to buy a new car, and getting the medical treatment they need.
Why? Getting paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company is not easy. Did you know that the other driver’s auto insurance won’t pay for damages until the victim is completely done with treatment? There is no “pay-as-you-go” provision. So, while a victim is racking up medical bills, their credit is suffering, and the bills won’t go away until the treatment is complete.
A Colorado personal injury attorney can help bridge this chasm for victims, helping them to understand other insurance options available and even helping to protect their credit. Meanwhile, the attorney can also work to secure the best possible settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
I know it’s not a great thought, but it’s better to be prepared so that you can best help your loved ones manage the stress of an accident. If you have a loved one visiting from out of state, please always recommend a Colorado personal injury attorney if they are in an accident on Colorado roads.
And, because Denver personal injury attorneys are sort of like crossing guards in elementary school zones (we’re nuts about safety!), I thought I’d share a list of items that you should consider packing for your next family road trip. These items will keep you safe and help you in a road trip emergency!
Also, for your reading pleasure, I found an awesome “road trip hacks” article at BuzzFeed that goes way beyond the safety measures I recommend above. Great stuff!
I wish you safe travels this summer! If you have any questions about Denver car accidents and how to pick a personal injury attorney, please contact me at (303) 388-5304.
5 Tips to Find an Accident Attorney in Colorado — Not all lawyers are created equal. How to find the right one for you.
Do You have to Call the Police After an Accident? — The answer is almost always, “yes!”