Did you know that the state of Colorado saw over 215,000 case filings in the year 2017 alone? Nearly 40 percent of these filings were for civil cases, equalling up to almost 80,000 new cases that year. Most of these cases were seeking damages of at least $15,000. Personal injury cases make up a good portion of such claims.
Contrary to popular belief, litigating a personal injury claim is not always necessary. When it is, however, the court will issue an order of settlement once the involved parties have completed and signed the paperwork. The plaintiff may also need to sign a contract with the insurance company to receive payment. Unsurprisingly, this process can be long and painstaking. Do you know what to expect after winning your Colorado personal injury lawsuit?
You may be requested to sign a confidentiality agreement during the settlement process. Each personal injury case is different, and so is each confidentiality agreement. Typically, they will ask you to relinquish the right to pursue any further related claims against the defendant. In other words, you agree to release them. While such proceedings are par for the course, you should still take caution. Review any release and confidentiality agreements carefully with your lawyer before signing, as you do not want to bar yourself from recovering any further (rightfully owed) compensation. Make sure you understand the following:
The insurance company will issue the settlement funds to your attorney once you have completed all release and confidentiality agreements. Still, there is no need to rush. Make sure you know what you are getting into before you sign anything.
Most personal injury lawyers take cases on a contingency basis, meaning that you do not have to pay anything until you win. Usually, this means that your attorney has agreed to accept a fixed percentage of your recovery. (Exceptions apply when you are not seeking out monetary damages.) In other words, your attorney fees will come out of the settlement you receive. Typically, your attorney will place your settlement funds into a trust account. Any fees and expenses you and your attorney incurred during the case will be deducted accordingly. You may also receive a judgment order with provisions specifying other parties entitled to costs. Generally, the court clerk will tax costs for the benefit of the prevailing party. However, some exceptions may apply.
You should expect to be eligible for any interest that has compounded since the action began. Interest is generally taxable, though the Secretary of State is responsible for reviewing and certifying the rate. In general, the IRS classifies personal injury awards as non-taxable. However, this is only true for compensation that is directly related to emotional distress, physical injuries, physical sickness, and property damage. By this logic, you should expect any punitive damages you have received to be taxed as well.
Medical care is a costly necessity, especially when you are waiting on your settlement. It is not uncommon for your lawyer to pay off your outstanding medical bills before you receive compensation. You may also use Medicaid or Medicare while waiting for your case to resolve. Of course, once you receive your settlement, you must reimburse all your medical expenses. Health First Colorado, the state’s Medicaid program, will seek reimbursement through the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing’s Tort and Casualty Unit. Moreover, Health First Colorado may be entitled to an automatic lien according to the statute. This process, known as subrogation, prevents parties from being paid twice for the same damage.
You may win your case and still have trouble collecting your settlement. If the losing party can not or will not pay, then they will become the judgment debtor. The party owed an award will become the judgment creditor. A county venue will run a judgment for six years, and a district venue will run it for twenty. Before seeking court assistance, your lawyer may formally request payment from the losing party. Most commonly, these methods include garnishing wages or property liens.
If your personal injury claim has ended with a trial, then you may be able to file for an appeal. You have 45 days from the civil judgment to file. If multiple parties wish to appeal, then they must all still file individually. The appeals process can be complicated and overwhelming, particularly for someone without a full and comprehensive understanding of the law. Consulting with your attorney is the only way to be sure of what your best options are.
If you or a loved one have recently been a victim of personal injury, we at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. Do not be fooled by insurance companies claiming to have your best interests at heart. As businesses, they have every reason to minimize your settlement—if you are even lucky enough to get one at all. Each payment to you is a loss to them. Get your full damages by working with a skilled legal team.
When it comes to personal injury, time is of the essence. If you want to collect damages, then you should act as soon as possible. Each type of accident has a different statute of limitations. If you fail to file before your statute expires, the courts may bar you indefinitely from seeking compensation for your injuries. A good lawyer will also need adequate time to prepare a successful claim. Do not let something as simple as tardiness sabotage your chances of recovery. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced nationwide personal injury attorneys.