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Written by: J. Todd Tenge

How to Determine Who Is At-Fault in a Colorado Car Accident

| Read Time: 4 minutes

You may not understand the laws regarding car accidents in Colorado.

Your first step in pursuing recovery for your injuries is asking the question, Is Colorado a no-fault state for car accidents?

Today we will discuss Colorado’s status regarding fault and how that may relate to your accident case.

If you’ve suffered injuries in a car accident, contact a skilled personal injury attorney to help you resolve your claim and recover your losses. 

Is Colorado a No-Fault State for Car Accidents?

Colorado is not a no-fault state for car accidents.

As an at-fault state, Colorado residents may file a claim against responsible parties without having to meet a threshold amount of damages.

Unlike Colorado, no-fault states require drivers to turn to their own insurance policies to recover for their losses.

Only after your injuries reach a certain threshold may you file a claim to recover against the other driver.

Therefore, Colorado offers advantages different from no-fault states.

After a car accident, you are free to pursue a claim against the driver deemed to be at fault and recover your losses.  

What Determines Fault in a Colorado Car Accident? 

Colorado law provides that negligence determines who is at fault in a car accident.

Negligence is proven by the existence of the following elements: 

  • A duty of care was owed, 
  • The negligent party failed to act in accordance with the duty of care, 
  • A person was injured as a result of the negligent act. 

All drivers in Colorado possess the duty to operate their vehicles responsibly. This responsibility includes following all traffic rules.

Typical examples of negligent conduct resulting in car accidents include:

  • Speeding; 
  • Following another car too closely;
  • Running red lights; 
  • Failing to stop completely at stop signs;
  • Failing to yield or merge safely into traffic; 
  • Changing lanes in an unsafe manner;
  • Allowing yourself to become distracted while driving in any way, including texting while driving; 
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Various types of evidence can be used to support the determination of fault in a car accident. Additionally, you should always write down your immediate recollection of the events leading up to the accident if possible. Memories fade quickly. Promptly writing memories down or recording them in some way may refresh your memory later. 

Police Report 

Since fault matters in Colorado, a reporting police officer may assist in the determination of fault after a car accident.

In these situations, a police officer observing a car accident will detail important information in their accident report. A reporting officer may decide fault. If they do, it provides strong support in any car accident claim. 

Photographs

If possible, try to take photographs of the car accident scene. Photographs should document damage to the vehicles involved and surrounding conditions including the road and weather.

Witnesses 

If any persons witness the accident, take down their names and contact information. A reporting police officer may interview these individuals and include their statements in the accident report as well. These witnesses may also testify as to their observations in court if your injury claim goes to trial. 

Accident Reconstruction

Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to review the circumstances surrounding your car accident.

If you suffered injuries resulting from the negligent actions of another person, you have the right to recover your losses. A personal injury attorney works to gather facts and evidence to build a strong case to support your claim. 

What Is No Doubt Liability?

In certain situations, the law can presume fault in a car accident. Colorado refers to these car accidents as “no doubt liability” accidents. These accidents are difficult to argue against and often result in a quick settlement for injured parties. Examples of no doubt liability accidents include the following: 

  • Rear-end accidents—When a driver hits the back of the car in front of them, the law presumes them to be at fault. 
  • Backing up accidents—When a driver is backing up and causes a collision, they are at fault.
  • Red Light Failure—Drivers that run red lights and subsequently cause an accident are almost always deemed to be at fault. 
  • Left-Hand Turns—In situations where a driver makes a left turn in front of drivers going straight through their green light, they are at fault. 
  • Impaired Driving—Drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs typically do not escape fault in an accident. 

When you get into an accident, you may think you will be unable to escape fault. However, there may be circumstances where the collision was unavoidable and not your fault. Therefore, it’s important to speak to a personal injury attorney so they can assess the facts of your case and discuss your options. 

How Do I Recover My Damages in a Colorado Car Accident?

Colorado provides three ways for an injured party to recover after a Colorado car accident. These include:

  • Filing a claim with their own insurance company;
  • File a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance provider; and
  • File a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

Colorado follows the comparative negligence theory. Therefore, if the court finds you to be less than 50% responsible for a car accident, you may seek compensation for your losses.

However, your percentage of fault is deducted from your recovery. If a court deems you to be at least 50% responsible for the car accident, you may not seek compensation.

What Can I Recover After a Colorado Car Accident?

Colorado permits recovery of damages because it is not a no-fault accident state. As a result, once fault has been determined, you may recover certain damages for your injuries and losses.

Economic Damages

Economic damages represent those quantifiable losses supported by medical bills and other receipts. Economic damages typically include:

  • Medical expenses, 
  • Vehicle damage, 
  • Property damage, 
  • Past and future lost earnings.

Invoices, medical bills, pay stubs, and tax returns support claims for medical costs and past and future lost earnings. Therefore, when attempting to recover economic damages, it’s important to save all receipts and records. 

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages represent subjective losses typically characterized by psychological and emotional harm resulting from your car accident. These damages include:

  • Pain and suffering,
  • Emotional distress, 
  • Loss of consortium,
  • Loss of companionship, and
  • Loss of enjoyment of life. 

Recovery of non-economic damages requires the assistance of a qualified personal injury attorney as they are a complex area of law. 

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages may be awarded to punish the at-fault party. Colorado law requires evidence of wanton and willful misconduct, fraud, or malice to recover these damages.

Contact Us

Tenge Law Firm, LLC is a boutique law firm specializing in personal injury and insurance cases. For nearly 30 years, the Tenge Law Firm has provided aggressive and diligent representation to all clients.

Attorney J. Todd Tenge handles all cases personally with the assistance of his dedicated team of professionals. We understand the unique needs of each of our clients and work toward a positive resolution for you.

Contact our office today for a free consultation!

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