Yes, you can sue if you are involved in a car accident in Colorado. The real question, however, is whether you can win.
Even if you can win a lawsuit, it might make more sense to settle your claim outside of court without ever suing. It all depends on the circumstances. Whiplash is one of the most commonly litigated car accident injuries.
Can You Sue for Whiplash?
Legally, the answer is yes. In “no-fault” states, you must claim against your own personal injury protection (PIP) policy instead of suing the at-fault party.
Such is no longer the case in Colorado, where you can file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy.
Colorado requires its drivers to purchase bodily injury liability insurance with limits no lower than $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.
But exercise caution. For decades now, “Whiplash, whiplash!” has become something of a trope for fraudulent personal injury claims.
Successfully suing for a whiplash injury will probably require more than your solemn oath that you are suffering from chronic neck pain that began the moment you suffered your car accident.
Settlement for a Whiplash Injury
A private settlement is usually better than a win at trial—at least if you can get a generous settlement offer—because settlement is quicker and easier than a courtroom battle.
Although Colorado personal injury law includes no formal whiplash settlement guidelines, it is possible to use the typical elements of damages to estimate the value—or at least get the general parameters—of your claim.
Following is a general framework:
- Medical expenses: The at-fault party owes you compensation for past and future medical expenses. If your injuries caused long-term disability, accurately calculating future medical costs is the tricky part. Fortunately, most whiplash cases resolve within a few months at most.
- Lost earnings: The at-fault party owes you money for all the earnings you lost by taking time off work for your injury, including the value of used sick leave time. In rare cases, whiplash might leave you with a long-term occupational disability, which could dramatically increase the value of your claim.
- Other tangible expenses: You may be entitled to recover additional costs incurred due to your whiplash, such as child care or loss of domestic services.
- Pain and suffering: This is where most of the dispute about the value of your claim is likely to lie. Since it is difficult to use medical tests to determine the severity of a whiplash injury, only you know for sure how much pain and suffering you are experiencing. The insurance company certainly will not simply take your word for it.
- Punitive damages: Courts award punitive damages only occasionally, and even then only when the defendant’s conduct was outrageous or shocking. A DUI accident may or may not be enough to win you punitive damages.
But be careful. The insurance company will undoubtedly try to pin at least part of the blame for the accident on you. For example, if your degree of fault is 20%, you will lose 20% of your damages.
But if your degree of fault happens to equal 50% or more, you will lose all of your damages. You might even have to pay part of the opposing party’s damages.
Contact Tenge Law Firm Today
Personal injury law is what we do, and it is all we do, from dawn to dusk. We know what we are doing since we’ve been doing it for 30 years now.
We can apply that knowledge to help you get the highest possible compensation for your injury.
If you have been involved in a car accident or are wondering about the circumstances under which you can sue for whiplash, call Tenge Law Firm at 303-529-6742 or contact us online for a free consultation.
We’re so confident of victory that we will charge you nothing unless we win your case.