Many times, car accidents may feel like they came out of nowhere. Oftentimes, especially right after the accident occurs, it can be especially difficult to suss out the exact cause of an automobile accident. However, generally speaking, all car accidents have at least one discernible cause. This cause could simply be human error and/or negligence, or it could even be factors of nature (the phrase “freak accident” exists for a reason, after all).
There are some cases where it is obvious who is at fault for an accident. For example, a drunk driver would clearly be at fault for any auto accident that they are involved in; or a distracted driver may be proven to have been sending text messages at the time of the crash; or maybe the at-fault driver was in possession of a car with a factory defect. In such cases, it is easy to establish fault and for the victim to collect compensation for any personal injury that may have been inflicted upon them as a result of the accident.
However, not every car accident is so black and white—especially when personal injury is involved. What should happen, for instance, if the victim was at least partially at fault for the accident? Or what should happen if who was at fault for the accident is ambiguous altogether? Can the victim still collect the compensation they are owed, or are they forever disbarred from resolving a personal injury claim from that accident? In this blog post, we will give a brief overview of how the State of Colorado handles comparative fault in automobile accidents.
In case you have never been involved in a personal injury case before, here is a brief overview. In every personal injury claim, you must prove that the defendant had (1) a duty of care to you, and that they then (2) breached that duty of care to you. In other words, you must establish that they were beholden to a certain responsibility to keep those around them safe and that they failed to adhere to those responsibilities. You must then prove that (3) this breach of duty of care caused your accident, and also (4) provide proof of your damages from said accident.
To reiterate, every personal injury case requires that the injured party/plaintiff must be able to prove that the offending party/defendant was at fault for the accident that resulted in their injuries. If such proof cannot be given, then the plaintiff does not have a viable personal injury claim. This is only fair, of course, as it would be unreasonable to award someone compensation based only on their word. As such, if you have been involved in an accident of any kind, it is of the utmost importance for you to begin collecting as much evidence as you possibly can and as soon as you possibly can.
Evidence can and should be collected at every step of the way. You should take photographs of the scene of the accident and of your injuries and damages, and you should also be keeping copies of all your medical records and expenses. Because you may also be able to collect compensation for non-monetary damages, such as pain and suffering, you may also find it beneficial for you to keep a journal of your emotional and mental state following the accident. If it is at all possible, you may want to procure an eyewitness or any possible surveillance tape footage of the accident. All of these things may prove to be beneficial in proving your innocence in the accident in the long run.
However, especially when it comes to car accidents, there are certain cases where there is more than one at-fault party. In such cases, it becomes more difficult and more complex to determine fault. These cases may need to go to litigation in order to be fully resolved. It is likely to be left up to a judge or jury in order to decide who was most responsible for the accident. From then on, all responsible parties will be deemed partial liability accordingly.
In order to deal with situations where multiple parties are at fault, the State of Colorado has developed a modified system of comparative fault in personal injury cases. To be more specific, car accidents with multiple at-fault parties are entitled to a jury that includes the following in a verdict: each party’s percentage of liability; each party’s recoverable amount, according to their percentage of fault; and the overall amount of recoverable damages in a case, including medical expenses and other related costs. The law also states that any injured party that is at least 50% at fault for an automobile accident is barred from receiving any compensation at all.
In order to better illustrate this system at work, it may help to imagine a car accident that resulted in a total of $100,000 in damages. The jury then determines that Car A was 65% at fault for the crash and that Car B was responsible for the remaining 35%. Car B is entitled to recover up to $65,000 in damages because of this ruling. Car B’s portion of fault bars them from any additional compensation. Car A, on the other hand, is not entitled to any compensation, as they were more than 50% responsible for the accident.
Dealing with personal injury cases can be an arduous process. It may be emotionally, physically, and mentally taxing—not to mention lengthy. If you have recently been a victim of personal injury, there is no reason for you to add to your existing stress by trying to fight your case alone. We at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators are ready and available to help victims all across the country. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our seasoned nationwide car accident attorneys. We will do everything we can to resolve your case as expediently and as successfully as possible.