Understanding Auto Insurance (And How It Affects Your Accident Claim)
After paying auto insurance premiums for years, you may find yourself suddenly needing to file an accident claim. Yet dealing with insurance companies can be intimidating. The policy language is dense with legalese. The claims process is confusing and frustrating. Perhaps you aren’t even sure where to begin.
At Flesch & Beck Law, we handle car insurance claims every day. Here is how the basic claims process works. Of course, every case is different, so we invite you to reach out to us for guidance on your specific situation. Our lawyers would be happy to discuss your case during a free consultation.
What The Numbers Mean
First, it is important to understand what the numbers mean on your insurance policy. By law, registered vehicles in Colorado are required to carry a minimum amount of insurance in case of an accident. Currently, there are three minimum requirements:
- $25,000 bodily injury per person injured in an accident
- $50,000 bodily injury per accident resulting in multiple injuries
- $15,000 property damage to the other vehicle.
You will typically see these numbers listed on your insurance policy as 25/50/15.
When The Numbers Come Into Effect
Unlike many states, Colorado is NOT a no-fault state. If you are involved in a car accident in our state, you have the option of filing a claim for damages against your own insurance policy, filing a claim against the insurance company covering the driver found to be at fault for the accident or suing the at-fault driver for damages over and above the insurance coverage.
- If you are at fault for the accident and file a claim against your own policy coverage, you can expect your insurer to offer less than what the claim is really worth. Just because you have been a faithful customer for years does not mean the company will be any more willing to pay full and fair damages on the claim. Having experienced legal counsel to fight on your behalf is your best option for recovering the full and fair damages you need.
- If you are not at fault for the accident, you can expect the at-fault driver’s insurance company to offer a quick lowball settlement that is likely below the full value of the claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know the best options for negotiating a full and fair settlement that covers your damages.
- If your damages are over the amount of insurance coverage, you have the right to sue the at-fault driver’s insurance provider or personal estate for additional money. These cases will be filed as lawsuits through the court system. The first issue to be decided will be whether you do, indeed, have a legal claim against the defendant. If the court rules that you do, the case will proceed to a jury trial to determine the full extent of financial damages to be awarded. While the lawsuit is moving forward, the courts expect parties to work toward a negotiated settlement. Most lawsuits settle out of court before proceeding to a jury decision.
- If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, or if you were the victim of a hit-and-run, you may have to turn to your own policy for coverage under the uninsured motorist provision. Likewise, if the other driver’s policy limits aren’t enough to cover your expenses, you will have to examine other options for getting the compensation you deserve.
It’s easy to make costly mistakes when dealing with insurance companies. With our attorneys on your side, you can avoid pitfalls that would otherwise leave money on the table.
What If You Bear Some Of The Fault?
Car accidents aren’t always so cut-and-dried regarding which driver is at fault. In many cases, both drivers share some percentage of liability. Colorado uses a formula referred to as proportional comparative fault, set at 50 percent. The insurance adjusters determine the percentage of fault to be assigned to each driver. Only the driver who is found to be less than 50 percent at fault for causing the accident may file a claim against the other driver’s insurance or file a lawsuit.
Call To Learn More — Free Consultation And No Fees Unless You Win
If you were injured in a car accident in Colorado, hire a lawyer with experience handling car insurance claims every day. Call Flesch & Beck Law at 720-689-0322 or contact the firm by email to arrange a free consultation to discuss your case with a lawyer right away. We have offices in Denver and Englewood.