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Rights of Passengers in Colorado Auto Accidents

A motor vehicle accident can be anything from briefly traumatic to entirely life changing. Sometimes you aren’t even the one driving when the accident occurs. While it might not be the first thing you think about after such an ordeal, talking to a lawyer should be high on your list of priorities.


Is the driver in your car automatically at fault? What does that mean for you as a passenger? What are your rights? What should you expect in the days to come? These are all questions that an experienced attorney can help you answer.

Each state has different ways of dealing with car accidents, and Colorado is no exception. For instance, Colorado changed to a fault-based system in 2003. This means that the insurance companies pay according to each party’s degree of fault.

Additionally, in 2009 the state added new car insurance regulations, such as mandatory minimum coverage for other drivers. If you get hit, the other person can’t just say they don’t have insurance, leaving you in the lurch.

These regulations can be helpful when ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries as the passenger, but the layers of coverage and fault can mean more hoops for you to jump through when trying to obtain compensation for your injuries.

The Basics

The one good thing about being a passenger in an accident versus the driver is that your negligence, in most circumstances, is zero. In order to win a personal injury case, you need to prove two things: liability and damages. Because you probably will not shoulder any of the liability, your injuries are what can be most difficult to illustrate.

The first thing you should do when involved in a car accident is to get checked by a doctor. Next, call your insurance company to report the accident. Last, but certainly not least, seek the advice of an experienced attorney. By visiting a physician and filing an insurance claim in the early stages of the aftermath of an accident, you preserve your legal rights and allow the insurer more time to investigate your claim. This also enables an attorney to have more information available if a lawsuit is necessary. You are also cataloguing your injuries in the process.

Filing a Claim

Someone injured in a car accident can file a personal injury lawsuit up to three years after the date of the accident. This applies not only to drivers but passengers, as well.

The circumstances of your filing can vary. If it were a single-car accident in which the driver of your car hit a light pole, for instance, you would file against his insurance company. If another driver were involved, you could also file against that second driver’s insurance company or against him personally, in conjunction with filing against the first driver. Please keep in mind, the total amount you receive as compensation cannot be more than the total value of your claim.

Depending on what happened during the accident, you could file a suit for many different things, such as current and future medical costs; disfigurement; lost income; pain and suffering; and disability, among others. Some of these damages are non-economic, like pain and suffering. Others are quantitative and easy to define, like lost income. Keeping a journal or log of your injuries, doctor’s appointments, and other relatable facts will help you preserve your claim.

Comparative Fault

It is very important to remember the fault-based system. As the passenger, if you have zero negligence in an accident negligently caused by one or more parties, you are entitled to receive full compensation for your injuries. Which insurance company might pay depends on the proportion of fault that reasonably can be assigned to each negligent party.

Be Smart

It is important to keep yourself as safe as possible while on the road, but sometimes circumstances are out of your control. If you have been in an accident and need someone to help you through the process to aid in your recovery, contact one of the experienced Colorado auto accident attorneys at McDivitt Law Firm today to request a FREE consultation.

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