Understanding Car Accident Laws | Denver Injury Lawyers
Although there are many different legal issues that will factor into a Colorado car accident lawsuit, here are some of the most common legal matters that our Denver personal injury attorneys discuss with clients:
Statute of Limitations
The ultimate precondition for a successful car accident injury lawsuit is compliance with the statute of limitations. Under most circumstances, a person has two years from the date of the auto accident to file a lawsuit or the action may be barred. However, there are limited situations where this period may be extended if a person may not have initially discovered the harm caused by the car accident. There are also special restrictions that apply if the defendant is a municipality or government entity, which makes it critical to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure you are aware of all the time restrictions relevant to your case.
Preconditions for Establishing Fault
There are several types of fault under Colorado law: negligence, reckless conduct, intentional conduct, and strict liability. In order to succeed with an injury lawsuit, it is necessary to establish that the defendant was at fault, which may be done in the following manner:
- In a negligence claim you must establish that the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff, acted carelessly in breach of that duty, and that this carelessness caused the accident. It also is necessary to establish actual damages.
- Reckless actions often are difficult to distinguish from mere carelessness but involve more willful conduct on the part of the defendant.
- In an intentional tort, you must establish that the defendant caused the accident intentionally. An intentional car accident is a crime, as well as a basis for a civil lawsuit. A person can still win a civil lawsuit, even if the defendant is acquitted in criminal court, due to different standards of proof that apply to criminal and civil cases.
- Strict liability most often applies to product liability cases, although it also may be used in dangerous animal matters and other limited situations. One of the most important aspects of this type of fault is that the plaintiff does not need to prove additional fault in order to recover damages. Someone might file a strict liability lawsuit against an automobile dealer, for example, if he or she were injured because an air bag failed to deploy. You must prove either a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or a marketing defect (failure to provide appropriate safety instructions, for example) caused the accident.
Types of Damages
Colorado offers plaintiffs three main types of damages: economic damages, non-economic damages, and physical impairment damages:
- Economic damages are designed to compensate you for your tangible economic losses – medical bills, lost work time, and other miscellaneous costs that were incurred as a direct result of the accident.
- Non-economic damages are designed to compensate you for psychological losses such as pain and anguish. Non-economic damages can amount to several times the economic damages but there is a cap on non-economic damages under Colorado law.
- Damages for physical impairment – if the plaintiff suffered a permanent injury involving impairment or disfigurement, additional damages may be awarded.
Reduction in Damages
Colorado is a “modified” comparative liability state. This means that if the accident was 51 percent your fault, you will not be entitled to damages. If you were less than 50 percent responsible for the accident, you may recover compensation for your injuries, but the court will reduce your damages in an amount proportionate to your percentage of fault. This means that if there was a finding that a person was 25% responsible for the injuries that he suffered and the total damages were $100,000, then he will receive that amount minus his apportioned fault, which will be $75,000 in this case.
Skilled Denver Injury Attorneys Advocate for Their Clients
If you were injured in a car accident in Denver, you will need a skilled and experienced Colorado car accident lawyer to negotiate a settlement for you or file a lawsuit to recover damages. Zinda Law Group has worked hard to earn the trust and appreciation of our clients. Our Denver car accident legal team is dedicated to obtaining justice for our clients. Call 303-800-1501 to schedule a free legal consultation.
Where We Practice
Our car accident lawyers handle cases all across Colorado, including Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Boulder, Aurora, and more. We also serve in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, including Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and El Paso.