While there are many reasons why you should consider hiring an attorney when you have been injured as a result of another person’s negligence, most often people hire an attorney for the following reasons:
• You have no idea how to begin or handle the process of resolving your claim for your injuries.
• You need guidance through and around the pitfalls of personal injury insurance claims.
• You want to protect your rights and obtain a fair and reasonable resolution of your personal injury claim.
• Your injuries are serious.
• The insurance company isn’t taking your claim seriously and it looks like a lawsuit and trial may be your only option.
• The insurance company is stonewalling, uncooperative, rude, is misconstruing the facts or blaming you, claims your injuries are not significant, that you could not have been as injured as you claim, or is low balling.
• You are sick and tired of communicating with the insurance companies, getting the run around, and want to avoid the stress associated with handling an insurance claim so you can instead focus your health and getting your life back.
No. Although some attorneys may charge a consultation fee to met with you and discuss your personal injury claim we do not charge you any money to discuss your claim and answer any questions you may have about hiring us. We understand that the decision to hire an attorney is not something everyone is familiar with and should not be taken lightly. We do not pressure you to sign up immediately and want to make sure that we are the right fit for you.
Yes. We represent people all over Colorado, the Denver metropolitan area and the front range. We often travel, over an hour or more to clients who do not live close to Denver or due to their injuries are unable or uncomfortable driving to our office.
We offer several payment options for our legal services, which include: (1) contingency; (2) hourly; (3) a fixed flat fee; or, (4) a combination of those. The contingency fee arrangement is the most commonly used form of payment for personal injury matters for many reasons, but mostly because of its convenience for the client. Contingent means a certain agreed percentage or amount that is payable only upon attaining a recovery for the client.
• Don’t block traffic if possible
• Render medical assistance if necessary
• Report the accident to the police
• Exchange information with all drivers and passengers
• Take photographs of the vehicles and any injuries suffered
• Go see a doctor even if you think your injuries are minor and will go away on their own
• Contact us at 303-831-1116 or by email at our Contact page to learn how we can help you
• Do not communicate with the other driver’s insurance company or sign anything
For more details on what to do when you are in an automobile accident, regardless of auto injury, and why please see our posting “What you should do if you are in a car accident” on our Blog.
If you were involved in a motor vehicle collision caused by someone else’s negligence or carelessness, and have suffered an auto injury, you may have a claim against the other driver for past and future damages suffered as a result. If you believe you may have a personal auto injury claim, please contact our office at 303-831-1116 or email us from our Contact page to schedule a free consultation with our office.
Because fair compensation is the goal of any personal auto injury claim it is not uncommon for a client to ask what is the value of their case. No lawyer can or should give you an exact number, especially at the first meeting, because there are many factors to consider when valuing your personal auto injury claim. The following examples are common factors to consider: the severity of your injuries, the effects of the injuries on your life, the amount of economic damages suffered such as medical bills and lost wages, whether you were partially at fault for the accident, and any relevant preexisting injuries. Every case is unique and your lawyer should spend time with you discussing the facts of your case and the possible defenses that may be asserted by the insurance company, before a decision is made as to a reasonable settlement value of your case.
Most accident victims know they should be compensated for their vehicle property damage, for the cost of their medical care, and for any lost wages, but don’t know there are other types of recoverable damages they may have suffered. The negligent driver’s insurance company is not going to tell you all the damages you may be entitled to recover for, so it’s important you know all your recoverable damages before you try to resolve your claim.
Every case is different and damages vary based on each person’s situation but the following, although not exhaustive, is a list of damages that may be recoverable in a personal injury claim:
• Loss of Use of Your Vehicle
• Reimbursement for Cost of Car Rental
• Diminished value of your Vehicle
• Loss of credit or damage to your credit score
• Loss of Consortium
• Physical Impairment
• Increased Risk of Harm
• Punitive Damages
• Loss of Earning Capacity
• Physical pain and suffering, mental/emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, stress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Don’t be discouraged if the other driver is uninsured. There are many sources of car insurance coverage for your injuries other than the other driver’s insurance. Some common examples where additional insurance may be available are:
• If the responsible driver was driving some else’s car who has insurance, was acting is the scope of their employment, or they live with a relative who has car insurance.
• If you have uninsured motorist coverage on your insurance policy, you were the permissive user of someone else’s vehicle that is covered by an uninsured motorist policy, or you live with a relative who has car insurance.
• If a rental car was involved, then the car rental company’s insurance policy may cover you, or if the rental car was paid for with a credit card that provides supplemental insurance, the credit card company may provide additional insurance coverage to cover your damages.
Because there are many other potential sources of insurance coverage for your injuries, it is important that you work with a personal injury attorney who can help you find valuable insurance coverage you may not know about.
Many personal injury victims face this very unfair situation of having to find a way to pay for their medical treatment because the at-fault driver’s insurance refuses to pay for their treatment and they don’t have health insurance. However, lack of health insurance should not stop you from getting the necessary medical treatment for your injuries. Don’t worry, you still have options.
If you have medical payments coverage on your automobile insurance policy, you can make a claim for your medical benefits under your automobile insurance policy.
Some doctors and other healthcare providers may agree to treat you in exchange for a lien on your personal injury claim. In other words, the doctor agrees to wait for payment until you recover money for your injuries. However, many doctors who agree to treat you under this arrangement may require that you work with an attorney to pursue your personal injury claim and that they attorney also agrees to honor their lien.
There are also medical finance companies that may agree to pay for your medical bills so you don’t have to delay medical treatment for your injuries. These companies often have a network of doctors and other healthcare providers, and can help you find doctors to treat your injuries. Medical finance companies also agree to wait for payment until you recover money for your injuries.
If you were not at-fault for the car accident, your insurance rates should not go up solely for making a claim for benefits with your car insurance company. Colorado’s Division of Insurance Regulations says it is an unacceptable reason to increase an insured’s insurance premium if they make a claim for medical payments coverage or uninsured/underinsured benefits if the claim was not the result of the insured’s actions.
No. You should always question the insurance company’s motive in whatever it does, which is most always an attempt to devalue your claim. The insurance claim adjuster may tell you that you don’t need an attorney or you may receive a letter that contains a section like “Do I need an Attorney?” This is the insurance company’s veiled attempt to sound helpful but in reality is meant to delay or discourage you from speaking to and/or hiring an attorney right away to learn your rights.
The letter may tell you that some insurance research group has determined that people who do not hire an attorney more often settle their claims more quickly, or it may try to discourage you by telling you that if you don’t hire an attorney you get to keep the entire settlement, or that you may want to wait to see what their offer is before you decide to speak to an attorney. If you take their advice, your delay in speaking with an attorney will likely cause you to miss valuable steps to protect your rights.
When is the last time you remember a quick and/or uninformed decision resulted in a better outcome than something you did after waiting and getting all the pertinent information first?
When you go to buy a new car, you do your research first before you negotiate with the car dealer, right? You talk to friends and family, you research the trade-in-value of your car, you may also consult a car buyer’s guide like Consumer Reports, and you may even pay a fee for an independent company like Consumer Reports to tell you what you should pay for the vehicle. You should handle an insurance claim the same way, and the insurance company knows that keeping you away from an attorney gives them an information advantage they can use to devalue your claim.
Most attorneys will speak to you about your claim for free with no obligation, so delaying to speak with an attorney, is never a good idea and only gives the insurance company an advantage. By waiting to talk to an attorney until after the insurance company makes you an offer, you have more likely done the insurance company a favor rather than yourself.
No. Your past and current medical information is highly confidential and protected by federal and state law from disclosure by your doctors without your permission. Never sign a medical authorization for the other driver’s insurance company. Often times it is a blanket release requesting any and all of your medical information and not limited in scope to only cover medical information relevant to your injuries.
Even if the authorization is only limited to medical information relevant to your injuries and/or the time period after the collision, you should not sign their authorization. Your medical records and bills after the collision may contain confidential and irrelevant information that the insurance company is not entitled to know nor needs to evaluate your claim, like your social security number, how your medical bills were paid and by whom, or other unrelated medical information. You also don’t want to rely on your doctor’s busy office staff to properly review your medical information to ensure that only accident related medical information is given to the other insurance company. Don’t give the insurance company any more information than they need to know to evaluate your claim.
Generally speaking, your health insurance company has asserted a contractual right of repayment or a right of subrogation. Whether you are required to repay your health insurance for all or any of the medical bills it paid on your behalf depends on a number of factors, including but not limited to, the insurance policy language, whether it is a fully self-funded ERISA insurance plan, whether the bills paid were for treatment of your injuries, whether the medical bills were included as part of the claim, whether any money you (the injured party) recover has made you whole, or whether your health insurance company must pay its share of your attorney’s fees and costs.
By working with a Colorado Personal Injury Attorney, they can help you determine what, if anything, you must pay out of your settlement to your health insurance company.
If you have been injured while on the real property of another as a result of a condition of the property, you may have a claim against the landowner pursuant to Colorado’s premises liability statute C.R.S. § 13-21-115. The premises liability statute governs who the legally responsible parties may be and the level of care they owe to a person on their property.
The legally responsible party is the landowner, however, that may not always be the person or entity that owns the real property. A “landowner” is defined as an authorized agent or a person in possession of real property and a person legally responsible for the condition of real property or for the activities conducted or circumstances existing on real property.
For example, if the property is leased, the tenant and not actual owner or landlord, may be the responsible party.
A landowner’s level of care owed to the injured person depends on their classification. Colorado divides occupants on land for purposes of Colorado’s premises liability statute into three categories: (1) invitees, (2) licensees, and (3) trespassers.
An invitee is owed the highest standard of care by a landowner and may recover for damages caused by the landowner’s unreasonable failure to exercise reasonable care to protect against dangers of which the landowner actually knew or should have known. However, if the land is classified as agricultural land or vacant land an invitee may only recover for damages caused by the landowner’s unreasonable failure to exercise reasonable care to protect against dangers the landowner actually knew.
An invitee is someone who is on the property to transact business for both parties’ benefit or the landowner represents that the public is requested, expected, or intended to enter the property.
Common examples of invitees are a business customers injured at the place of business, tenants injured in the common areas of their apartment complex, and employees injured at work. An invitee’s status can change while on the property if the invitee enters part of the property not intended for the invitee’s use, where the invitee would not reasonably be expected to go, and the purpose of being there is his or her own.
A licensee may recover for damages caused by the landowner’s unreasonable failure to exercise reasonable care with respect to dangers created by the landowner of which the landowner actually knew, or the landowner’s unreasonable failure to warn of dangers not created by the landowner which are not ordinarily present on the property of the type involved and of which the landowner actually knew. A licensee is someone who is on the property for the licensee’s own convenience or to advance his or her own interests pursuant to the landowner’s permission or consent. Social guests are considered licensees.
A trespasser is owed the lowest standard of care by a landowner, and may only recover for damages willfully or deliberately caused by the landowner. A trespasser is someone on the property without the landowner’s consent. A social guest of a resident at a motel, who returned to the motel to fight someone, was determined to be a trespasser. Chapman v. Willey, 134 P.3d 568 (Colo. App. 2006).
When a person dies as a result of someone else’s wrongful act, negligence, default, unskillfulness, or criminal intent, the surviving spouse, heirs (children or lineal descendents), the father, or mother of the deceased may have a claim for losses they have personally suffered. Their claim is a statutory claim created by Colorado’s Wrongful Death statute.
The deceased’s spouse has the right to bring the claim in the first year after death, or if the spouse elects in writing, the spouse and the deceased’s heirs or the heirs alone may bring the claim. If no spouse exists, then the heirs or a designated beneficiary may bring a claim in the first year after death. In the second year after death, the spouse, the heirs, or designated beneficiary may bring a claim at any time during the second year. If the person who died was an unmarried minor with no children, or an unmarried adult with no children and no designated beneficiary, then the deceased’s father or mother may assert a court claim for wrongful death.
Although multiple family members may have suffered a direct loss as a result of the person’s death, Colorado law only permits one lawsuit for Wrongful Death of a person to be filed in court.
The surviving spouse, heirs, or parents of the deceased may recover noneconomic damages for pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional stress, impairment of the quality of life, grief, and loss of companionship. Colorado law limits the amount of noneconomic damages that are recoverable unless the death constitutes a felonious killing. From time to time the Colorado Secretary of State may adjust the limitation on noneconomic damages based on the Consumer Price Index for Denver-Boulder. Economic damages include reasonable funeral expenses and the lost financial benefit (i.e. net pecuniary loss) which the person might reasonably have expected to receive from the deceased had they lived. Parents of the deceased may be entitled to anticipated support in their declining years or if the deceased is a minor, loss to the parent for the services and earnings which they could have reasonably expected from their child during his or her minority, less their expenditures for maintenance. Exemplary damages may also be awarded if there are circumstances of fraud, malice, or willful and wanton conduct by the party who caused the death.
The judgment obtained in an action for wrongful death is owned by the deceased’s heirs and is to be distributed among the heirs in the same manner as real estate is divided according to Colorado’s statute of descent and distribution.
Colorado has enacted an alternative means of proving noneconomic damages in a Wrongful Death claim, known as the solatium amount. The solatium amount is in addition to economic damages and reasonable funeral, burial, interment, or cremation expenses. The solatium amount is not subject to reduction by operation of law or comparative fault and if elected in writing is to be awarded upon a finding or admission of the defendant’s liability for the wrongful death.
Prior to Colorado’s survival statute, C.R.S. § 13-20-201, all injury actions died with the victim or the person who caused the injury. The purpose of the survival statute is to prevent certain actions that already accrued from abating by reason a person’s death.
Only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate may assert a claim pursuant to Colorado’s survival statute.
The estate may recover reasonable funeral expenses, medical, nursing, hospital expenses, loss of earning capacity, and the other damages which accrue during the decedent’s lifetime and which would have been recoverable by him had he lived. Exemplary damages and damages for pain, suffering, disfigurement, or prospective profits or earnings after date of death, are not recoverable under the survival statute.
“When I first talked to Dan about my trip and fall case he was compassionate and very caring. His hard work and attention to detail were outstanding. If I had any questions or concerns, he was always understanding and a professional. I was very pleased on the outcome of my case. I would highly recommend Dan again and I would like to thank him and his staff very much for their hard work and professional service.”
“Dan showed great care and concern for me during my trial. He was thorough, investigated every angle and aspect of my case and kept me completely informed at all times. Dan is open, honest and always available when needed. Dan is an excellent attorney; I highly recommend Dan.”