With nearly 6 million people living in the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado, car accidents continue to wreak havoc. Hundreds of motorists are killed here every year. Colorado car accident laws were created to guide victims through the legal process after a crash.
It’s smart to know Colorado’s accident laws before talking to an auto accident lawyer about your case. Whether you call Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora or another Colorado city home, each crash has different circumstances. Your situation requires the expertise of an attorney to get the most out of your settlement.
How to Report a Car Accident in Colorado
All drivers have a duty to report a car accident in Colorado in the presence of bodily injury or property damage, according to CO Rev Stat § 42-4-1606. Either call the police, or you can submit an online crash report using the Online Crash Reporting System.
IMPORTANT: It doesn’t matter if the injuries or property damage is minor. You still have to report an accident.
Remain at the scene and seek medical attention as soon as possible for your injuries. When exchanging info with the other driver, keep the conversation brief and cordial to not incriminate yourself with revealing information.
Do not apologize even if you feel it is your fault, because they can use your apology as an admission of guilt, reducing your settlement amount and chances of compensation.
What to Record at the Scene of the Crash
Record as much as possible from the scene of the Colorado car crash:
- Take photos of your injuries
- Take photos of the damage to your vehicle
- Talk to eye witnesses around the area
- Collect name(s), address(es), and registration of the other driver
- Insurance company information of other driver
These photos can help your insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Document your injuries immediately, and even see a doctor as soon as possible if you suffer from injuries yourself.
One tool you should collect to prove liability in a Colorado car accident is a police report. Authorities at the scene are trained to lay out facts about the accident in great, objective detail. If there is a question about liability after the accident, your lawyer can point to the police report for objective facts about the crash.
Is Colorado a No-Fault State?
No, Colorado is an at-fault state. Fault on the part of one of the drivers in Colorado must be shown before insurance claims will be paid out.
The person at fault for the car accident is responsible for injuries, vehicle damage, and other losses from the accident. This means the at-fault driver’s car insurance company will cover other people’s losses up to the driver’s liability coverage limits.
If you would like to obtain a copy of your crash report, gather following information:
Name of the Driver
Date of the Crash
Case Report Number
Location of the Accident
All requests for records must be submitted via the Colorado State Patrol Records Request Portal.
Statute of Limitations in Colorado Car Accident Law
The statute of limitations is the amount of time that the accident victim in Colorado has to file their car accident claim.
- The deadline is three years according to the Colorado Revised Statutes 13-80-101.
- If someone dies as a result of a car accident in Colorado, their family may want to file a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations deadline for this type of claim is two years.
- A lawsuit for property damage only has a two-year statute of limitation.
- You have only approximately six months to file a claim in Colorado if you are in a car accident caused by a government employee.
The statute of limitations list above does not apply to car insurance claims. Insurance companies generally require individuals to make a claim promptly or “within a reasonable time” after the accident. This could mean days or weeks, depending on the accident.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations
The three year “clock” starts running on the date of the accident. For a wrongful death case or for a property damage claim, the two-year measurement starts on the date of the person’s death. This might be different from the date of the accident.
Meeting the statute of limitations is done by filing a legal complaint in the appropriate court. Reporting the accident to the insurance company isn’t enough.
Colorado Comparative Negligence Laws
Colorado runs under comparative fault car accident law. It says:
- A car accident victim in Colorado may only recover damages for an accident if they’re less than 50% responsible for the accident.
- If a Coloradan shares responsibility for an accident but is less than 50% at fault, they will collect a reduced share of their damages.
- This means Colorado is a modified comparative negligence state.
- The amount of damages is reduced by the percentage of fault that you have for your accident.
Colorado Car Insurance Laws
Colorado requires each motor vehicle on the state’s roads be covered by liability insurance. The required minimum amounts of car insurance coverage in Colorado are:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident caused by the driver of the insured vehicle
- $50,000 for total bodily injury or death liability in an accident caused by the driver of the insured vehicle
- $15,000 for property damage per accident caused by the driver of the insured vehicle
Colorado car accident laws require the insurance company must pay a claim promptly when an accident occurs.
More Coverage Options
You can carry more insurance coverage to protect you in case a serious crash occurs. Experts estimate 16.3% of drivers are uninsured in Colorado.
Higher insurance limits can help protect you in the event of a serious crash. Additional liability coverage protects any family member driving your vehicle and will likely cover you if you get into rental car accident.
Collision coverage is optional and can pay for repairs to (or replacement of) your damaged vehicle after a car accident.
Since 2009, Colorado auto insurers have offered $5,000 in Med Pay medical payment coverage. It is used to cover car accident injuries regardless of who caused the accident.
How Much is My Colorado Auto Accident Claim?
If another driver caused your recent car accident, you can receive a settlement payment for:
Economic damages (measurable):
- Immediate and future medical costs
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Property damage
Non-economic damages (non-measurable):
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of affection or companionship
- Mental anguish
IMPORTANT: An experienced attorney can help you calculate the total potential value of your car accident claim.
How Does Colorado Car Accident Law Handle Hit and Runs?
Most people have their regular health insurance cover the costs right after a hit and run accident.
After filing suit against the at-fault driver, your insurance company may be able to recover this amount.
Types of Damages in Colorado Car Accident Law
Colorado car accident laws provide you multiple types of damages if you sue for a car accident. These are economic, non-economic, and punitive damages, each with different amounts depending on the case. Find a Colorado auto accident lawyer to prove each damage you suffered to maximize your settlement.
Your car insurance claim or lawsuit filed after a Colorado car accident entitles you to a settlement amount for all of your losses. These losses are called economic damages. This includes payments for:
- Medical care for your car accident injuries
- Vehicle or property damage
- Lost income
- Other economic losses, such as a rental car fees
The emotional trauma you sustain after a car accident may be classified as non-economic damages. Examples of such traumas include:
- Pain and suffering resulting from the accident and your injuries
- Emotional trauma from the loss of affection or companionship
- Emotional Distress
- Mental anguish
The state has a cap on non-economic damages (pain, suffering and emotional trauma): $468,010. Adjusted for inflation, this cap is over $600,000.
The punitive damages amount has a “one-to-one” limit against actual damages in Colorado. This means it will not exceed an amount equal to the actual damages awarded to the accident victim.
Connect With an Auto Accident Attorney from Our Network
Car accidents are complicated to deal with if you don’t have expert help. One misstep in your paperwork and you could miss a crucial deadline or valuable detail. Not only will an attorney clear up the complex legal process for you, but you may receive a higher settlement than if you agreed to the auto insurance company’s first offer.
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.