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What is the Auto Insurance Claims Process?

This is the second of a three-part series entitled Car Accidents, Personal Injuries & the Insurance Carrier. Here, we will provide an overview of the claims process. We purchase auto insurance to provide financial coverage for losses and damages that may occur. A claim is filed with an insurer for compensation after a party sustains property damage and/or bodily injury. In the U.S., there are millions of auto insurance claims filed each year. In 2016, claims exceeded 6 million from crashes,
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What is the Difference Between 1st and 3rd Party Auto Insurance Claims?

This is the first of a three-part series entitled Car Accidents, Personal Injuries & the Insurance Carrier. We will begin by looking at Colorado’s auto insurance system historically, as it has changed considerably in recent years. Next, we will assess current market conditions in the state and explain and differentiate first-party claims from third-party claims in the auto insurance system. In 2003, the state repealed the existing “no-fault” auto insurance system that was in place for 30 years. The Governor felt
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What if the Insurance Company Refuses to Pay?

Insurance is well established in our society as a way to limit risk and provide economic security. Both individuals and businesses use various insurance products for everything from cars, health, homes and more. The insurance industry is also among those most subjected to regulation. Each state assigns a department to be responsible for oversight of financial dealings involving insurance companies. States have drafted provisions that specify the standards that companies are to adhere to. According to the recent Colorado Division of
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Colorado Supreme Court Addresses Physician/Patient Privilege

The Colorado Supreme Court recently heard arguments in the case of Bailey v. Hermacinski. This matter centers on “ex parte communications with doctors, undue influence and residually privileged information.” Ex parte communications in civil matters refers to the idea that a court may proceed with a motion without presenting the issue to, or obtaining a response from, the opposing party. The case resurrects the longstanding law regarding confidentiality between medical providers and their patients known as “physician/patient privilege.” This concept is similar to
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Smart Cars May Help in Roadkill Accident Prevention

Roadway crashes between vehicles and animals is a nationwide problem. State Farm Insurance data indicated that in 2014, Americans had 1.25 million collisions involving deer that led to an estimated $4 billion in damage, which doesn’t include dozens of other species of animals. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that approximately 200 fatalities occur from such accidents annually. Here in Colorado, the problem is evident, as in 2016 there were nearly 6,900 animal collisions reported. The Colorado Parks &
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Fatal Hit & Run Vehicle Accidents Continue Along Colorado Roadways

Zachary Schlagel, an 18-year-old from Windsor was killed in an accident on Austin Bluffs Parkway at Stanton Road in Colorado Springs recently. The El Paso County Coroner says he died from injuries inflicted in the collision. Schlagel and two other pedestrians were crossing lanes when a truck crashed into them. Another pedestrian escaped with only minor injuries. Police identified the truck and driver, but he has not yet been apprehended. Since 2014, the volume of traffic deaths in Colorado has risen nearly
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Oct 2017 Mass Shooting in Las Vegas: Event & Venue Liability

This is the second of our two-part discussion, Civil Lawsuits Following the October 2017 Mass Shooting in Las Vegas. First, we looked at the potential liability of those in the gun industry (i.e., manufacturers) when their products are used in horrific criminal acts. We next examine potential liabilities that the hotel, resort, casino, and promoter of the concert may face. Ten survivors filed a negligence suit against the hotel, resort, casino, and promoter in Los Angeles County, seeking to recover damages
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Oct 2017 Mass Shooting in Las Vegas: Gun Industry Liability

This is the first of a two-part series concerning the recent mass shooting that left over 50 people dead and hundreds injured in Las Vegas when a gunman perched up in the hotel at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino opened fire on a massive concert event crowd below. The shooter is believed to have committed suicide moments after the assault. With the assassin now dead, who else may have potential civil liability associated with this tragedy? As with most of
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Studies Show Potential Correlation Between Marijuana & Reductions in Opioid Deaths

New research by the American Journal of Public Health indicates that deaths associated with opioids have dropped in Colorado by 6%, just two years after recreational use of marijuana was legalized. This reduction in opioid-caused fatalities was the first of its kind in 14 years. Authors of the report did explain that their results thus far are still preliminary, as it is difficult to rely on data that merely spans a period of only two years. They feel that more research
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Who’s Responsible for Your Opioid Addiction? The Patient, the Doctor, or the Drug Companies?

The Center for Disease Control & Prevention stated that the U.S. had 33,091 deaths in 2015 related to opioids. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines opioids as a class of drugs including prescription brands such as Percocet, Vicodin and Oxycontin, as well as synthetics including fentanyl, and the illegal drug heroin. In addition to relieving pain, these drugs are known to produce a “high” that creates their propensity for abuse. Colorado has unfortunately earned the second-ranking among states for highest rates
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Duty of Care Questioned in Pedestrian Accident Claim in Colorado

Under Colorado law, plaintiffs must prove several things in claims of negligence. First, is that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff at the time. Once established, it must be determined this duty was breached. Lastly, a causal correlation existed between the defendant’s breach and the injuries incurred. Negligence may be demonstrated through an action, or a failure to take action, which leads to injury recoverable by the plaintiff. Whether a defendant owes a duty is a
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Vicarious Liability – Defective Vehicle (Product Liability)

This is the fourth (final) part of our series involving vicarious liability. This legal concept potentially makes a vehicle owner liable for the negligent actions of another party, despite not being directly involved. We first looked at when a parent is liable for injuries caused by their child while driving, which involves the Family Car Doctrine. Next, we looked at employer liability for the negligence of their employees (respondeat superior) when operating in the scope of their employment. Lastly, we analyzed
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The Graves Amendment and Rental Car Liability

This is the third segment of a four-part series that addresses vicarious liability and vehicle accidents. Vicarious liability is a legal doctrine that applies in situations where a party is potentially liable for the harm caused by negligent actions of another, even if the first party did not demonstrate the negligence themselves. It applies in relationships, such as a parent being liable for actions of their child, or, among other examples, an employer being liable for the actions of an
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Vicarious Liability – Company Car (Respondeat Superior)

This is the second part of a series discussing vicarious liability; in particular, how it relates to the relationship between employers and employees. The respondeat superior doctrine makes an employer responsible for torts caused by their employees or others considered agents while operating within the scope of duties of their employment. Essentially, the employee is acting on behalf of the employer when the employer has control, or a right to control the employee’s actions. Another consideration is whether the employee’s actions intended
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Vicarious Liability – Borrowing a Car

Does my insurance cover someone who borrows my car? Whose insurance would pay a claim if the borrower was involved in an accident? These are some questions that will be covered in this four-part Vicarious Liability series. According to Jeanne Salvatore, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute, usually when you lend someone your vehicle, your insurance will cover potential costs of an accident. She noted that the vehicle owner must have granted the borrower permission to use the vehicle–which may be granted verbally.
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Colorado Supreme Court to Decide on License Revocation Statute

The Colorado Supreme Court heard a case involving the admissibility of evidence used in a hearing regarding a driver’s license revocation. The case of Brian Rowland v. The Department of Motor Vehicles challenged the court to interpret the state’s statute. The question is whether the law requires that evidence provided from third-party sources outside of law enforcement must be in the form of an affidavit and sworn to under oath. Rowland was stopped by police who said he was crossing the yellow lane markers
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Arvada 7-Car Crash: Driver Who Caused it Used Meth

Christopher Farr, a 43-year-old man from Arvada, was traveling in his Cadillac SUV on Ward Road when he crashed into a Ford F150 pickup causing a multi-car accident that took his life and the lives of three others. It was determined that Farr was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time. Jill McGranahan of the police department explained that it was determined he had 400 nanograms of the drug in his system. Farr, who would have potentially faced criminal charges, had
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3 Fatalities Following SUV Collision With a Bear on I-70

The Colorado State Patrol (CSP) reported that an SUV hit a bear while traveling on I-70 near Rifle, Colorado that killed three people. After striking the bear, the SUV spun into the opposing lanes of the highway. There were seven people in the vehicle, four of which were taken to hospitals. The bear was killed in the collision and investigators do not suspect alcohol or speed contributed to the accident. This incident is a reminder of the danger along the roadways in
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How Does Failing to Yield Right of Way Increase Your Chance of Accident?

Drivers who fail to yield or observe laws relating to rights-of-way is a problem on the roads. Much of the reason why these violations occur is that drivers do not recall rules related to yielding. The traffic laws generally do not define who has the right-of-way, rather they explain who must yield based on a variety of possible circumstances. Data across all U.S. states show that failure to yield the right of way are a cause of accidents. The Colorado State Patrol
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Colorado Lane Laws

Colorado has problems with traffic fatalities, with 545 in 2015, which represented a 10% rise over 488 in 2014. 2015 was also the all-time high for motorcycle fatalities within Colorado, with a total of 104. With 3.8 million estimated drivers in Colorado, the chances of a fatality are roughly 1 in 7,000. A recent study showed that lane violations are the cause in 8.4% of overall accidents, and yearly over 400 injuries or deaths typically occur. Colorado State Patrol (CSP) Trooper Paul
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Colorado DUI Accident Statistics

Approximately one in every three traffic fatalities in the U.S. results from a driver who is under the influence. Recent figures indicate that over 10,000 fatalities and over 200,000 injuries occur annually from drunk driving. Throughout the U.S. we have seen considerable reforms, legislation, and enforcement efforts related to drunk driving over the past 30 years. All U.S. states have a uniform established threshold for determining when a vehicle operator is over the limit for alcohol at a blood-alcohol level
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Exceeding Safe and Legal Speed in Colorado

The next causal factor addressed in this series is speed, which is a key risk factor in roadway accident injuries because it impacts the likelihood of a crash and generally increases the magnitude of the injuries resulting from crashes. Speed limits are established to maintain roadway safety; however, based on volatile conditions at a given time, there may be a need to recognize that a reduced speed is more suitable. Colorado statute explains that drivers must travel at a speed that
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Distracted Driving Statistics in Colorado

Distracted driving occurs when vehicle operators are texting, tending to children, eating, or reading while driving. Reports suggest that although drivers are aware of the problem, they continue to allow distractions to jeopardize themselves and others on the road. Proving that a driver was distracted is more difficult than, for example, driving under the influence of alcohol, which can be determined with a breath test. In response to this problem, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper recently finalized legislation that increases the penalty
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Vehicle Accident Trends in Colorado

Several common causes of roadway crashes, such as, inattentiveness, excessive speed, driving under the influence, lane violations, and failing to yield, cause approximately 70% of accident injuries or fatalities. The Colorado State Patrol (CSP) is the lone statewide agency responsible for enforcement of traffic laws. The CSP responds to about 30% of all car accidents in Colorado and investigates approximately 70% of those with a fatality. Properly identifying causal factors for crashes is critical in overall efforts to reduce injuries,
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Evolving Attitudes on Marijuana Usage in Impaired Driving Claims

This is the third and final segment of the series Impaired Driving Marijuana, which will discuss public awareness regarding the potential dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana. During the period when the marijuana industry was seeking legalization in Colorado, cannabis was often promoted as a safer option than alcohol. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) conducted a survey that indicated 72% of Colorado marijuana users felt it was safer to drive after using marijuana compared to alcohol. Roughly 50% of respondents
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Fatalities Related to Marijuana Impairment

Based on federal and state data beginning in 2013, drivers in fatal crashes are increasingly testing positive for marijuana. A recent Denver Post report analyzed information from coroners to determine the impact that marijuana legalization has had on roadway safety. Of the fatally injured drivers tested in 2016, roughly 10 had a concentration level at least five times the legal limit. The majority of surviving drivers that tested positive had levels indicating recent usage. Retail marijuana sales to adults started in 2014
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How Do You Test for Marijuana Impairment?

Colorado legalized marijuana and those over 21 years of age may purchase it from retailers. In this segment, we discuss how the testing is handled to determine driver impairment. As with alcohol, Colorado has a measurable level (limit) in place, which is five nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—per milliliter of whole blood. In 2016, approximately 30% of traffic fatalities involved an impaired driver, which translated into 196 deaths. Roughly 17% of those arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence involved marijuana. Surprisingly, 55% of marijuana users
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Who is Responsible for Victims of Road Rage?

This is the third segment of our Who is Responsible series that addresses major roadway safety concerns. We have all witnessed incidents involving “road rage” at some point. Angry or aggressive drivers are seen yelling, making gestures, or brake checking. Some incidents have gone much further, leading to property damage, injuries and even death. Reported instances are rising, according to the Colorado State Patrol (CSP). Captain Jeff Goodwin explains that some drivers are quite dangerous at times. We will look at current data
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Who is Responsible for Victims of Hit-and-Run Accidents?

In this second segment of the Who is Responsible series, we discuss another major roadway safety concern in Colorado. Hit-and-run accidents are a disturbing trend where motorists involved in collisions choose to immediately flee the scene. We will look at recent local examples, review data indicating the scope of the problem, insurance considerations, potential civil and criminal liability, and laws and actions being taken. Recent Denver Incidents Police in Denver are searching for a driver who collided with a pedestrian at 20th and Blake.
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Who is Responsible for Victims in Police Car Chases?

This is the first of several Who is Responsible articles about circumstances that contribute to accidents, injuries & deaths on Colorado roadways. The first involves instances when law enforcement vehicles chase (pursue) other vehicles. Although popular in movies, these situations are a very dangerous reality. We will review a recent Colorado Springs incident, discuss Supreme Court opinion, address police pursuit policy development, and analyze policies at several enforcement agencies here in Colorado. Five individuals in Colorado Springs remained in the hospital after
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Truck Driver Alleges He Was Terminated for Refusing to Text While Driving

Over the last few years, new laws regarding distracted driving have been added all across the nation as many Americans are simply using their mobile devices constantly. A 2016 California-based survey indicated that 44% of people feel that texting while driving is the most dangerous form of distracted driving. Over 50% of respondents stated that they had been involved in a collision, or nearly in a crash because another driver was using a mobile device. In fact, the problem is so worrisome
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Accident-Prone Interstate 25 Puts Spotlight on New CDOT Safety Campaign

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is working hard on efforts to improve I-25. Between 2011 and 2015, there were 5,537 collisions along I-25 between Colorado Springs and C-470. In particular, there is an 18-mile stretch from Monument to C-470 that has been especially known for accidents. CDOT has launched their latest program titled “Mind the Gap”, which specifically focuses on this stretch of highway. The car accidents are largely either rear-end or sideswipe collisions among vehicles moving in the same direction, as well
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Safer Roads Through Technology & Innovation

There is little doubt that Colorado needs to remain focused on roadway safety after having 605 fatalities in 2016. The problem is not limited to passenger vehicles, as there were 125 fatalities among motorcyclists, 94 among pedestrians and 16 among bicyclists. These numbers represent over a 10% jump from the previous year, and the problem has received attention by the Colorado Department of Transportation, the State Highway Patrol and other such agencies. We are still a few years away from truly beginning
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Safer Roads Through Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Communication

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), through the RoadX program, is working on several initiatives involving new technology and innovative strategies to make our roadways safer. The Smart 70 program will test Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications along I-70 including higher-risk, mountainous segments. V2I communication allows infrastructure along our roadways to exchange important information. Another term commonly used in describing this concept is Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). Some examples of infrastructure include traffic signals, strategically placed sensors, and overhead message signs. The benefits of this connected
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Safer Roads Through Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication

Colorado is moving forward to determine the feasibility and benefits of using a new technology called vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is continuing their RoadX program and has an exciting pilot program upcoming in conjunction with a company known as HERE. HERE specializes in mapping technology and real-time data analytics to evaluate vehicle-to-vehicle communications. The venue for the pilot will be I-70, which extends across the state and passes through dangerous mountain regions that receive significant snowfall. The channel
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Colorado Laws and Regulations for Driverless Cars

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed legislation recently allowing for controlled testing of autonomous vehicles as long as it can be done while adhering to the current roadway rules. Hickenlooper says he is seeking a way of maintaining regulations while not creating “red tape” that could hinder innovation. State Senator Owen Hills explained that the new policy is not intended to outline a detailed set of how smart cars should be operated, instead to simply make certain the testing is safely conducted. Much
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Four New Technologies for Safer Roads Across Colorado

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 35,092 fatalities in vehicle accidents in 2015. This was a 7.2% increase over the prior year and the highest rise in the U.S. since 1966. Anthony Foxx, the U.S. Transportation Secretary, issued a need for action among data experts, safety specialists and others to determine the causes and create solutions. Here in Colorado, there were 546 such fatalities in 2015, representing a staggering 12% increase over the previous year. We do not
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Preventing Accidents in Colorado

In this five-part series, we have identified the leading contributing factors and causes of auto accidents including human contributions, weather, and road conditions. In this final segment of the series, we will focus on what is being done in Colorado to prevent accidents. The 2017 Integrated Safety Plan (ISP) published by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) outlines programs, initiatives, goals, and funding. It is truly an integrated plan that involves the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Federal Highway
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How Do Road Conditions Contribute to Car Accidents?

This is the fourth of a five-part series that addresses the many factors that can result in traffic accidents and the injuries, fatalities, property damage and other societal harm associated with them. In Colorado, we enjoy all four seasons of the year and can be subjected to quickly changing the road conditions. Here we will seek to understand the different challenges that drivers encounter such as muddy, icy, or snowy conditions and identify the best practices for traveling safely. Colorado
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Weather Conditions As Contributing Factors to Car Accidents

In the third part of the series, we look at another factor in vehicle accidents—weather conditions. Colorado’s geography and terrain allow for beauty and great recreational activities, yet many of the state’s roadways travel through mountainous regions that receive massive amounts of snow. Due to these changes in elevation, drivers face significant stretches of roadway with sharp inclines and abruptly changing weather conditions. During the winter, the possibility of ice on the roadways is extremely dangerous. Weather is obviously a
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Top 7 Human Factors That Contribute to Car Accidents

This is the second of a five-part series that explores the many factors that contribute to traffic accidents and their often devastating consequences in the U.S., and chiefly in Colorado. The state’s Department of Transportation explains in their 2017 Integrated Safety Plan (ISP) and Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) that, in order to further progress toward the goal of “Zero Deaths” along Colorado roads, knowledge is critical. The ISP recognizes the three contributing factors in auto accidents: the roadway, the
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Human vs Non-Human Causes of Road Accidents

This is the first of a five-segment series that seeks to explore the causes of vehicle accidents in the U.S., particularly in Colorado. The series is focused on prevention. There are a host of factors in vehicle accidents which can be broadly differentiated as being caused by human or non-human reasons. Vehicle accidents have negative consequences that are overtly tragic and life-altering, such as severe injuries and fatalities; however, there are also less publicized, yet still impactful outcomes such as
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Denver Man Found Dead in Elevator Had Twice Used Emergency Notification System

Isaak Komisarchik, an 82-year-old Denver man, died in a parking garage elevator recently, although he had twice pushed the emergency notification button. Komisarchik, who was believed to have dementia, was unable to exit the elevator and was discovered by maintenance staff after residents complained of an odor in the area. The man’s reduced mental state is believed to have played a role in his inability to exit the car. The Denver Fire Department made the discovery in the garage, which is adjacent
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Wrongful Death Claim Disputed in Fatal Boat Accident

David Dyer was operating a speedboat recently that was in a collision with a bass boat which killed Danny Phillips and Shawn Lanier on Lake Murray in South Carolina. Dyer survived and denies acting in a negligent manner when the crash occurred. The family for Lanier filed a wrongful death claim against Dyer citing reckless operation of the boat and for failing to assist those aboard the other boat when the accident occurred. Meanwhile, Dyer has filed a claim against the Phillips’
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Requirements for Documents Presented to the Court Based on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

In civil cases, such as claims of personal injury or wrongful death, many potential types of documents may be presented to the court. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) contain certain requirements that the courts impose that are procedural in nature, as well as stipulations concerning that the information contained is factual. For this reason, those bringing a claim should always seek capable legal representation from an experienced lawyer. When a party submits documents such as pleadings or motions, it
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Wrongful Death Case Involving Teenager Who Died in Vail Avalanche On Hold

When a child dies, many parents feel as if an integral part of them has died. Immense feelings of sadness and grief plague bereaved parents in a manner that is unparalleled. However, in the event that a child’s death could have been prevented – which is also known as a wrongful death – these feelings are exponentially magnified. In the nation, parents are able to file a lawsuit against any individual, organization or entity that they believe to be legally
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U.S Cities Increasingly Facing Civil Liability Suits for Injuring & Killing Dogs

A U.S. law enforcement officer shoots a dog on average every 98 minutes; in fact, roughly 10,000 pet dogs are killed this way each year. In Colorado & Texas, enacted laws require officer training on being humane toward animals. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that since 2010, the city’s police department has either used a taser or a gun on a dog on at least 82 occasions, roughly once per month. Of those 82 dogs, 25 of them were killed, most involved a
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Colorado Drivers Are Reported as Having Terrible Driving Habits

The Denver Post reports that Nationwide Insurance recently used a device which is installed on vehicles to track a driver’s habits that may signify dangerous vehicle operation such as abrupt braking and rapid acceleration. The findings indicate that Colorado drivers tend to rapidly accelerate much more than drivers in other states. The Thursday morning work commuters demonstrated the most aggressive driving, followed by those driving on Sundays. Colorado is among several states with overly aggressive drivers including Washington D.C., New
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What are the 12 Titles of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure?

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) guide civil actions in the U.S. District Courts. The FRCP provides a comprehensive framework for fair, efficient, and economical execution of civil proceedings. The Supreme Court implemented the original version in 1937, and the 12 titles have been revised and amended over the years. Title 1 – FRCP Scope: Summarizes the overall mission of uniformity and equitable administration of federal civil actions. Title 2 – Commencement of Suits: How suits are initiated via complaint and the processes
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What are the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure?

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) outline procedures in civil matters in U.S. District (federal) courts. These rules are initiated by the U.S. Supreme Court in accordance with the Rules Enabling Act, then Congress has a period of seven months to veto the rule or it becomes law. The Federal Judiciary has a Judicial Conference, which typically recommends changes to the rules. Federal courts must apply individual state laws when deciding cases; however, if state law is ambiguous, the FRCP can
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What Property & Assets Are Protected From a Wrongful Death Civil Judgment?

O.J. Simpson was recently granted release via parole from a Nevada prison. He still owes a $33.5 million civil judgment in the wrongful death case involving Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. The judgment was renewed in 2015 for an additional ten-year period. What property and assets are shielded from such civil judgments? Some states allow those awarded a judgment to garnish the earnings of individuals. Simpson maintains residency in Florida, which limits garnishments to 25% of earnings. The state also has strong “homestead” laws
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How to Collect a Civil Judgment Award in Colorado

When a court awards a civil judgment, it does not always result in a quick payment. Judgments must be collected before the expiration date. County court judgments run six years, while those in district courts extend it to twenty years. The party who is owed the award is known as the Judgment Creditor and the party who is responsible to pay the award is the Judgment Debtor. If an uncollected judgment is nearing expiration, you can petition the court for an extension. Remember, you
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Wrongful Case Filed on Behalf of Colorado Woman Following Fatal Accident

An 18-year-old man from Santa Fe, NM, is alleged to have been responsible for the death of Corrina Vaden, an Aurora, CO woman while operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol in a severe crash which also injured two other passengers. Luke Griffin is facing criminal charges of vehicular homicide, DUI, and others, and was reported to have been well beyond the legal limits for being impaired. New Mexico’s alcohol threshold for operating a vehicle is merely .02 for those under
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Wrongful Death Case Underway Regarding Aspen Whitewater Rafting Accident on the Roaring Fork River

Paul Sizemore and his wife Jennifer Lenze were vacationing from California and went on a whitewater rafting trip hosted by Blazing Adventures in Aspen, CO. Sizemore, age 44, was knocked from the raft amid a stretch of the river referred to as “Hell’s Half Mile” and was unable to be rescued. His wife brought a claim of negligence and wrongful death against the company and several employees. All participants in these excursions must sign a document known as a “Participant Agreement for
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Legislation Pending & Civil Suits Underway in Response to a Fatal Colorado Helicopter Crash

Legislation is well underway in the U.S. House that will mandate that all helicopters now be manufactured with crash-resistant fuel tanks. In 2015, a fatal helicopter crash in Frisco claimed the pilot’s life and severely injured two others. Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter, both U.S. Representatives from Colorado, are sponsoring the bill. Perlmutter said that although the problem was detected years ago, nobody has required that a solution is mandated for this hazard. Those investigating the incident feel that the crash may
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Can Landowners Face Premises Liability Actions in Rattlesnake Bite Claims?

The Denver Post reports that people and animals continue to be bitten by venomous rattlesnakes across the state. A family in Hayden says their dog was recently taken to Dr. Wayne Davis at Craig Veterinary Hospital for the treatment of two bite wounds and was administered anti-venom medicine. Davis has treated a total of 12 bitten animals so far this year. The veterinarian thinks the increase in the snake population stems from a surge in the population of ground squirrels–their preferred prey.
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How Common Law Defenses for Landowner Duty Apply in Colorado Premises Liability Cases

This premises liability case reached the Colorado Supreme Court. A claim was brought against William and Gladys Franklin, who were homeowners with a swimming pool where a severe injury occurred. James Vigil, who is mildly mentally retarded, was working at the home as a laborer as part of a program for the Arkansas Valley Handicapped Community Center. Vigil decided to dive into Franklin’s above-ground pool, which was only four-foot-deep. When he dove, Vigil’s head hit the bottom of the pool, causing significant
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Michigan Supreme Court Hears Case of Woman Killed in Parking Lot

Michigan’s Supreme Court ruled on a personal injury case involving Virginia Rawluszki, who was killed when hit by a truck in a parking lot of a Menard’s home improvement store. The court unanimously decided to leave the appeals court decision in place and have them try the case with a jury, or reach a settlement. The family of the deceased asserts that the retailer should have installed stop signs at a crosswalk they created in the lot. The defense says that the
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Hot-Air Balloon Ride in Florida Lands in a Retention Pond Filled with Alligators

The Colorado Gazette reported that a hot-air balloon ride with 17 passengers was forced into a crash landing in a retention pond near Orlando. An unexpected shift in the wind forced the pilot to land in the water to avoid power lines. The pond is known to be a home to several alligators. According to Orlando Balloon Rides, the pilot, who had over 2,000 hours of balloon flying experience, was able to navigate a landing safely and there were no injuries. Both
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Colorado Cities Exercising Caution Regarding Fireworks Because of Potential for Fires

This Fourth of July several Colorado communities decided to cancel their annual fireworks displays due to the heightened risk for fires. The regions have all been experiencing hot and dry weather, coupled with high winds, are a combination that is conducive for quickly spreading fires. The Public Information Office of the Durango Fire Department stated that the fireworks would pose to great a safety risk. A recent house fire in Durango spread to a wildfire that burned across 400 acres of land.
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Healthcare Provider Facing Negligence Claims Awarded a County Contract in CO

Armor Correctional Health Services Inc. is a company that presently provides medical care services to approximately 40,000 inmates in the U.S. The Miami-based organization was recently awarded a contract for the jail facility located in El Paso County, CO. The value of the contract for this 1,500 bed facility is estimated to reach roughly $40 million. Last year, Armor was prohibited from providing care in the state of New York after a series of deaths occurred. The company is said to have many pending
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Family Awarded $6 Million in Wrongful Death Case Wants Denver District Attorney to Review the Case

The family of a victim in a wrongful death case that resulted in a $6 million award in 2014 wants the Denver District Attorney’s Office to review the matter claiming that there was an internal “cover up”. Marvin Booker was being processed into a Denver jail in 2010 and he left the booking area to retrieve a pair of shoes he had left in the waiting room. The incident, which was caught on surveillance footage, showed four officers restraining him, possibly choking him, and
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Denver Banned Dog Breed Law Seeks to Prevent Injuries & Related Liability

The city and county of Denver does not allow for ownership, possession, transportation, or sales of pit bull dogs. Denver defines a pit bull as being an American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or dog that exhibits the bulk of the physical attributes of these breeds, according to the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club standards. The ban was originally implemented in 1989 and was soon after challenged by those claiming the ban was not constitutional.
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$600 Million Awarded in Dog-Related Insurance Claim in 2016

In 2016, the number of dog bite-related insurance claims continued rising. Over 40% of U.S. households now own a dog. The homeowner’s insurance industry is certainly feeling the impact, as an estimated 20% of claims are related to dog bites. It appears that the prevalence of incidents indicates that pet owners are not properly training, controlling, or supervising their canines when they relate with unfamiliar people and children. Claims topped $600 million for the year, and an analysis of the
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$1 Million Settlement Reached in California Wrongful Death Case

A settlement was recently reached between the city of Hayward, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), and the family of James Greer in a wrongful death case. The suit alleged that Greer was improperly restrained until he was no longer conscious. Under the agreement, the city of Hayward will pay $995,000 and BART will pay $75,000 to the victim’s family. Greer’s family said that he went to purchase a lottery ticket in May 2014 and was pulled over in-route for suspicion
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Tips for Preventing Accidents in Colorado’s Road Construction Zones

As spring turns to summer, the number of roadway construction projects in Colorado is at its peak level. Highway reconstruction and maintenance crews are working to improve our transportation system, and they face potential danger from careless or negligent motorists. It is critically important that drivers pay attention to the signs, signals and other warning indicators when approaching construction areas. The General Contractors of America recently released results of their study revealing that over 40% of contractors had witnessed a collision
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Parents of Former Hockey Player Bring Wrongful Death Case against NHL

Judge Gary Feinerman, in a U.S. District Court, recently dismissed a wrongful death case brought by the parents of Derek Boograd, a former National Hockey League (NHL) player. The suit claimed the NHL was liable for Boogard’s brain injuries and addiction to prescription pain medication which led to his death. Boogard was considered an “enforcer” on the ice, and played with the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild over his six-year professional career. He died in 2011 of an overdose
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Bicyclist Collisions On the Rise Reinforces Disturbing Trend in Colorado

On June 8, a collision between a bicyclist and a Toyota SUV led to a 52-year old cyclist’s death along South Wadsworth Rd in Littleton. According to the responding CO State Trooper, two cyclists were traveling along the edge of the roadway when the one cyclist abruptly veered in front of the approaching vehicle and was fatally injured. The roadway was closed down for several hours afterward; no one has yet been charged in the accident. Colorado Roadway Fatalities Rising
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Student Illness Caused by Gas in Boulder Valley School District Building

A civil case is underway in Boulder County District Court where the parents of a former Casey Middle School student claim gas from the sewer system made their daughter ill for a lengthy period of time. Margaret and Randall Smith claim their daughter suffered illness from exposure to hydrogen sulfide emanating from the sewer. The smell of rotten eggs had aroused suspicions of a problem since the school was reconstructed in 2010. During the 2014-15 school years, both parents and
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Jury Awards $225,000 in a Durango Injury Case Based on Premises Liability

A four-day trial concluded recently in the Colorado’s 6th Judicial District Court, with a jury awarding $225,000 to Kathy Sloan, who was injured in front of Maria’s Bookshop, a local bookstore that has been in Durango for over 30 years. Sloan had visited the store for a purchase and was exiting the retailer when she attempted to dodge an oncoming pedestrian. In her efforts to avoid a collision, Sloan’s foot landed in a dog water bowl resulting in damage to
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Civil Claim Underway for Inmate Injured in Denver Courtroom

A civil case is underway in Denver resulting from injuries to an inmate that occurred in a courtroom. Anthony Waller was in custody at the Downtown Detention Center and was escorted in shackles to a court appearance by sheriff’s deputy Brady Lovingier. During the proceedings, Waller was speaking to the judge when he abruptly slammed into a metal window frame. Waller is seeking damages, claiming that Lovingier caused the injury by grabbing his waist chain suddenly. Kenneth Padilla, Waller’s attorney,
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Michigan Appeals Court Dismisses Negligence Case in Student Death

A lower court ruling was recently upheld by the Michigan State Court of Appeals against Marysville High School. The plaintiff, the student’s father, brought a civil case claiming negligence and intentionally inflicting emotional distress which they claim led to the suicide death of 17-year-old Steven Jahn. The court concurred with the ruling that the defendants in the case were shielded by governmentally-based immunity. Jahn allegedly committed suicide by driving his vehicle into a concrete barrier while traveling on Interstate 69
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Las Vegas Police Likely to Face Civil Action in Usage of Neck Restraint Maneuver in Suspect’s Death

A controversial neck hold was applied by police to an unarmed man at a Las Vegas casino. Toshii S. Brown was unable to be revived after he fled two pursuing officers through The Venetian and ultimately was restrained by a “lateral vascular neck restraint”. Critics of the maneuver claim it is simply dangerous to use, as some officers may hold the position, which can lead to death by choking. The police department states that this hold has been applied by
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Colorado Regulators Issue Report on Ski Chairlift Accident Leading to Woman’s Death

The much-anticipated state inspection report regarding a Ski Granby Ranch chairlift accident which sent 40-year Kelly Huber falling 25 feet to her death has been completed. A spokesman told the Denver Post that this was a very unlikely occurrence, and with the additional changes to be implemented, it will likely not occur again. The lift system known as the Quickdraw Express allows for operator adjustable speed changes, which led to Huber’s fall and death. The daughters were examined in the
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Colorado Legislature Finalizing Two Bills for Vehicle Accident Prevention & Safety

The Colorado Senate is focusing on motorist safety with new legislation. Senate Bill 17-229 involves motorists who fail to exercise care as they pass stationary vehicles that are displaying their visual signals. Currently, those in violation of exercising caution nearing the emergency or towing vehicles along the roadway are committing a Class A traffic offense. The bill makes an addition to include municipal utility service vehicles. The penalty for a motorist who causes bodily injury will be increased from a
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Parallel Criminal & Civil Cases Likely in Penn State Fraternity Pledge’s Death

In February, Timothy Piazza, a 19-year old Penn State University student died after collapsing down a staircase at a fraternity party while heavily intoxicated. Eighteen members of Beta Theta Pi have been charged criminally in connection with the death, following participation in a drinking game. The authorities were not notified for 12 hours. Piazaa’s family retained a Philadelphia-based attorney for a civil suit, which may be pursued parallel to the criminal case. So far there had been conflicting accounts of what
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Women on Bicycle Killed in Car “Dooring” Accident

Authorities in Cambridge, MA conducted an accident reconstruction of a collision which killed a 27-year old female bicyclist. Amanda Phillips was traveling down Cambridge Street when she struck an open car door which pushed her in front of a moving landscaping truck. Bicyclists use the term “dooring” to refer to a situation where someone opens a car door in front of an approaching cyclist. The results can be serious injuries—and even death. The “Door Zone” Analysts refer to an area
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Driver Falls Asleep Behind the Wheel & Nearly Drives into House

A man that was driving down Foley Avenue in Coon Rapids, MN abruptly fell asleep at the wheel and missed a turn. His vehicle remained heading straight toward a home; however, his car hit a parked truck which woke him and prevented the potential catastrophe. Police reported that the man was transported to a local hospital for treatment. AAA reports that those who sleep five hours per night or less have a four times greater likelihood of being involved in
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Major Insurer Denies Liability for Injury Case Involving Borrowed Vehicle

In a South Carolina district court, the 2017 case of Nationwide Mutual Insurance v. Van Sickle & Rush challenged whether insurers could be responsible for paying liability claims stemming from accidents where the insured had loaned their vehicle to someone and caused an accident. Appolina Rush was driving a car borrowed from a Nationwide Insurance customer when she injured a couple (the Van Sickles) in a collision. The Van Sickles brought a suit against Rush and Lois Prince, the vehicle
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May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month & Large Rally Planned by Colorado Nonprofit

The month of May has been designed as Motorcycle Safety Month and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has initiated a program to encourage motorcyclists to attend training programs currently available across the state. Sam Cole, a department spokesman, says that riders should take advantage of the available training, as riders who are simply mediocre should not be operating on the roads. In 2016, Colorado had 125 motorcyclist fatalities, which is a 15% rise from the prior year. This fatality
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Day Care Operator in Florence Faces Wrongful Death Suit for 9-Month Old

Florence police and Fremont County sheriffs responded to a call regarding an unresponsive infant. 9-month old Rhett Walker was pronounced dead, which has led to a civil suit of wrongful death against defendants Christine and Sean Humphrey and James and Connie Clark. Rhett was brought to her day care provider in a car seat. Defendant Christine Humphrey placed the infant in the seat in the living room. Upon returning from another room, Humphrey noticed the seat had flipped over. She
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Will Continued Tort Reform Eliminate the Collateral Source Rule?

Back in 1854 on the Great Lakes, a steamboat collided with a schooner causing it to sink while loaded with freight. The schooner was insured and the defense argued that they had already been paid for the replacement. The court would not make any reduction in damages stating that the insurance had no relevance to the case. Many states still employ the collateral source rule (including Colorado), which existed under common law. The rule states that recovery for damages will
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Denver Implementing New Crosswalk Signal Systems in Response to Surge in Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities

Auto accident-related deaths of pedestrians are rising more rapidly than fatalities among motorists, approaching 6,000 annually. As a part of fatalities from 2016 crashes, approximately 15% are among pedestrians compared to 11% from 2015. Experts attribute this trend to lower fuel prices and more people walking for exercise and environmental purposes. The largest contributor may be that both drivers and walkers are simply distracted by usage of mobile devices, but this cause it rarely documented and goes unreported. Denver is
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$1.6M Award in California Wrongful Death Case with Drunk Driver in a Rental Car​

It appears that a settlement has been reached in the wrongful death case of a couple killed in a head-on collision. The family of Bertha & Ruben Betancourt filed suit in Santa Barbara County Court against EAN Holdings, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Shaquille Lindsey, the driver. Lindsey’s vehicle apparently crossed into the opposite lane at a pace exceeding the speed limit by over 20 mph. Lindsey was alleged to have been intoxicated. Grounds for action included wrongful death based on negligence,
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City of Greeley Settles Third Personal Injury Case This Year in Pedestrian Accident

The City of Greeley has apparently settled their third personal injury claim so far this year. They have paid out at least $725,000 in these incidents where fault was determined. This week, the city agreed to pay $225,000 to Jerry Hill, a pedestrian who was struck by a recently retired police officer who was driving an unmarked police vehicle. Hill suffered several injuries to the head, shoulders, and knees after being impacted in a crosswalk at 9th Avenue and 10th
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U.S. Supreme Court Rules on Tribal Immunity in Car Accident Negligence Suit

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are presently 566 federally recognized tribes, in addition to a few recognized at the state level. Currently, in Colorado, there are two: The Southern Ute Indian Tribe of the Southern Ute Reservation and Ute Mountain Tribe of the Ute Mountain Reservation. Since these tribes are considered self-governing, they are similar to U.S. governmental entities in that they are afforded sovereign immunity which shields them from most litigation. Lewis v. Clarke Accident
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Life Saved at Vail Ski Resort Illustrates the Importance of Colorado Senate Bill 09-010

A snowboarder at Vail Resort named Peter Roskovich recently collapsed and went into sudden cardiac arrest. The Vail Ski Patrol sprang into action using an automated external defibrillator (AED) to temporary restore Roskovich’s pulse. Using a snowmobile, the patrol began transporting him to seek medical care. Strangely, Dr. Greenberg, a Vail Valley Medical Center cardiologist, happened to be skiing at the resort that day and upon realizing the circumstances, began further life preservation efforts during transport to the hospital. Greenberg
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Colorado Supreme Court Case Addresses “The McHaffie Rule”

The 2017 case of Ferrer v. Tesfamariam Okbamicael & Colorado Cab Company L.L.C. made it to the state’s Supreme Court. Plaintiff Jessica Ferrer and a friend were injured when Mr. Okbamicael’s taxi cab hit them while they crossed a Denver street. Okbamicael worked for Colorado Cab (Yellow Cab), who owned the vehicle. Ferrer sued both the driver and Yellow Cab citing the driver’s negligence and that Yellow Cab was vicariously liable based on respondeat superior. In addition, the plaintiff charged
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Colorado Supreme Court Rules on the Collateral Source Rule in Auto Accident Case

What Is the Collateral Source Rule? The Colorado collateral source rule states that even if an insurance policy or another collateral source pays your medical expenses, the defendant will be liable for the full amount of your medical bills. The collateral source rule aims to hold at-fault parties liable for their actions, even if someone else has already paid for the victim’s medical bills. If you had $10,000 in medical bills and your auto insurance policy gave you $10,000 to
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Can Speed Enforcement Camera Footage Provide Evidence in Civil Accident Cases?

Colorado authorities have continued diligent efforts to improve roadway safety throughout the state. Unfortunately, 2016 was a difficult year statistically for CO, as an estimated 605 fatalities occurred during the year. This death toll included 125 motorcyclists, 84 pedestrians, and 16 that were riding a bicycle. This is an overall 11% increase over the 2015 statistics. Colorado is among the many states that uses cameras for enforcement of speeding and red-light type violations. As ticketing associated with automatic photographs becomes
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Passenger Forcibly Removed & Injured on United Airlines Flight Filing Civil Suit

A highly publicized incident was caught on video aboard a United Airlines flight preparing to leave from Chicago. After the passengers were aboard, the airline made an announcement that it was overbooked and offered $400 travel vouchers to those willing to take another flight. After nobody volunteered, the offer went to $800 and then $1000. Apparently, some United Airline employees were needed aboard that flight and no remaining seats were available. Dr. David Dao, a 69-year old physician, refused to
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Atlanta Hotel & Restaurant Facing Three Unrelated Wrongful Death Cases

The Westin Peachtree Plaza in downtown Atlanta is a fixture amid the skyline with a lengthy list of amenities. The site spans over 80,000 square feet and stands over 70 floors tall. The Sun Dial restaurant is unique because it rotates, offering dining guests a spectacular 360-degree overview of the city. In a bizarre sequence of events, this venue has endured three tragedies recently, which are all currently civil matters of wrongful death. Sun Dial Restaurant Death A 5-year old
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Peripheral Nerve Injuries Increasing in Prevalence Injury Litigation

Recent National Law Review studies indicate that peripheral nerve injuries seem to be increasingly cited in cases of personal injury. National estimates reveal that nearly 20 million individuals suffer from some variety of damage within their peripheral nerves. While many injuries are clearly apparent in auto accidents, such as wounds or fractures, peripheral nerve damages often exist covertly. Sometimes the symptoms may remain dormant for periods of several weeks. Many of these occurrences originate in accidents and reinforce the importance
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RD Legal Funding Taken to Court over Consumer Protection Concerns

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently in conjunction with the New York attorney general are taking RD Legal Funding LLC to court for violations said to be related to federal and state laws concerning consumer protection. A suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York indicates that the organization was targeting former NFL football players who were to receive settlements from a class-action suit based on concussion injuries they sustained. In addition, RD
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Postal Service Workers Report 6,755 Dog Attacks in 2016

The United States Postal Service (USPS) released their annual report regarding dog attacks on U.S. mail carriers. Approximately 6,755 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2016, a 3% increase from 2015. Denver reportedly ranked #7 on the list with 47 incidents. USPS spokesman Mark Saunders says that larger cities have the highest frequency of incidents, attributed to greater population density. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 4.5 million dog bites occur annually. Nearly one of every five of
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Nevada Amateur Racetrack Remains Open After Two Die in Crash

SpeedVegas, Las Vegas’ indoor 11-mile auto racing track re-opened after 12 days of closure following the death of two individuals racing a Lamborghini that crashed and caught fire. Employees stated there were five crashes in the 1st year of operation. SpeedVegas rents performance cars for track usage without speed limits in vehicles capable of reaching 150 mph. A lawsuit was settled with undisclosed terms; Dominic Gentile, attorney for the plaintiffs, stated simply that “we resolved the matter” with confidential terms.
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Disagreement on Amount of Damages for Fatal Helicopter Collision Involving Colorado Men

In 2016, there were zero deaths from crashes among U.S.-certificated scheduled airlines. This is the 7th year in a row that this feat has been accomplished. On the non-commercial side, The Aviation Safety Network reports that there were 18 fatal airline crashes in 2016 and 14 in 2015. The worldwide fatality rate is roughly one per 3.2 million flights. Two Colorado men were killed in 2014 when their helicopter collided with a small plane and the civil case is currently
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Two Separate Car-Pedestrian Accidents Saturday on Park Avenue in Denver

With the emergence of spring in the Denver area, more citizens are out walking. In a bizarre coincidence this Saturday, two pedestrians collided with cars along different points on Park Avenue. The first was near the intersection of E. Colfax Ave., and the other, two hours later, was close to the Lawrence St. junction. The pedestrians in both accidents sustained injuries and were transported to hospitals. 2016 Pedestrian Death Toll The rate of pedestrian fatalities is rising more rapidly than
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Florida Jury Rules in Product Liability Case with a Ford Explorer Rollover Death

The Colorado Department of Transportation published their findings regarding traffic fatalities for 2016. Overall, there were 607 traffic accident fatalities for the year. Of the fatal accidents, roughly 190, or 31% of these instances involved individuals operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These numbers indicate that CO has plenty of room for improvement in driving safety. Parker v. Ford Motor Co., Action Gator Tire, & Cooper Tire Katie Parker’s family filed a defective auto product and wrongful death
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The Top Ten Global Causes for Liability Action

A new study by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty suggests that the environment for risk is in a constant transition with the emergence of new potential liabilities. As technology continues to evolve, new scenarios which can produce tremendous liability begin to surface. Their report examined liability insurance claims in over 100 countries in many industry sectors. In the last five-year span, insurers doled out an estimated $9.3 billion for such claims, over 80% were attributed to ten areas of concern.
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