Personal Injury Compensation Claims in Colorado – Information You Need
After an injury accident, the person that caused your injuries may be liable for the damages you suffered. The responsible party, or his insurance company, may even offer you a quick cash offer to settle out of court. Before accepting any compensation for your personal injury claim, it is best to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. This post attempts to answer some questions you may have at the start of pursuing compensation for a personal injury.
Can I Afford a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Unlike other legal services, personal injury lawyers work on contingency. This means you will not need to spend out-of-pocket for a lawyer. When you accept a settlement or receive a judgment awarding compensation, the attorney will collect a fee from your award. If you do not win your case, the attorney does not charge anything for his services.
What Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to give you a rough estimate of the value of your personal injury claim. Settlements and awards in personal injury cases depend on the damages you suffered. There are three different kinds of damages for tort cases. They are special (monetary) damages, general (non-monetary) damages, and punitive damages.
Special damages are any damages with a specific economic value. These include medical bills and expenses resulting from the injury. This includes future medical costs. It also includes lost wages from time off work and property loss or damage.
General damages are the non-economic damages you suffered because of your injuries. This includes pain and suffering, anxiety and distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. It can be difficult to assign a specific dollar amount to these damages. For example, if you love golf but will never be able to play again, how do you determine fair compensation for this damage?
We can calculate general damages. Simply add the total amount of special damages and then multiplying it. Less serious pain and suffering may are often worth 1.5 times the specific damages. But devastating injuries can multiply the judgment by three, four, or five times. Your attorney will take several factors into account when determining your damages. They include the seriousness of your injuries, how long it will take you to recover, and how much the defendant is at fault for your injuries. You must add specific and general damages to determine the actual damages of a claim.
Punitive damages are sometimes awarded due to the defendant’s negligence or recklessness. Juries will award millions of dollars in punitive damages for morally repugnant behavior. This is especially true in cases involving large corporations. However, Colorado does not allow these to exceed the amount of actual damages. Therefore, a Colorado personal injury victim is unlikely to receive millions of dollars in punitive damages.
What Do I Have to Prove in a Colorado Personal Injury Case?
Your personal injury claim will need to demonstrate that the defendant acted negligently in a way that caused your injuries. The four basic elements to establish negligence in a personal injury claim are:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. Duty of care is the responsibility to avoid doing harm.
- The defendant breached his duty of care. Breach of duty means the defendant failed to act in a reasonably responsible way.
- The breach led to harm. The defendant’s negligent behavior harmed you directly or indirectly.
- The plaintiff suffered actual damages. You have well-documented injuries, and incurred financial costs due to those injuries.
A knowledgeable personal injury attorney will understand the best ways to establish these elements based on your individual circumstances. You must show negligence of the defendant based on a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means, based on the evidence you present at trial, the jury can conclude your story is probably true.
What Defenses Can Be Used in a Personal Injury Case?
A common defense in personal injury cases is that the plaintiff was at least partially at fault for her own injuries. Like most other states, Colorado is as a “comparative negligence state.” This means you can still recover damages even if you were partially at fault for the accident. Your damages will decrease according to the degree of fault assigned to you.
Another common defense is that the plaintiff failed to show causation. If you cannot prove based on preponderance of the evidence that the defendant caused your injuries, he may not be liable for your injuries.
There are other possible defenses a defendant can use against you. They depend on the type of personal injury claim and the circumstances of your case.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases in Colorado?
A statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit about a particular matter. If the statute of limitations for your injury has passed, you will be forever precluded from seeking compensation for your injuries.
Most of the time, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years. However, injuries resulting from the use of a motor vehicle have a statute of limitations of three years. Filing a lawsuit takes time. Do not delay seeking legal representation after an injury.
Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?
The vast majority of personal injury cases settle out of court. About 95% of personal injury claims in Colorado will be settled before their court date. However, a skilled personal injury attorney is always ready and willing to go to trial if necessary, to recover the fairest amount of compensation for his clients.
When in Doubt, Call a Colorado Personal Injury Attorney.
Negotiating and litigating a personal injury claim in Colorado can be a long, complex, and stressful process, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. A skillful and compassionate personal injury attorney can help you through the entire process, without ever costing you anything out-of-pocket. Steve Roberts is dedicated to helping individuals recover a fair settlement for their injuries. Contact the Law Office of Steve Roberts, LLC today to schedule a free consultation.