In 2016, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) data indicated that there were 608 traffic fatalities in the state, an 11% increase. This trend continued in 2017 with another rise in roadway deaths and thousands of people who suffered injuries of varying types. Despite widespread awareness in the community about vehicle accident safety, problems such as impaired driving, speeding, and distracted driving have continued to make Colorado roads a dangerous place.
How do you know if you need an attorney after being involved in an automobile accident? There are a number of circumstances to consider regarding the accident, and it may be a critically important decision to make.
Insurance Company Perspective
When considering whether to retain legal counsel in these matters it is critical to accurately consider the realities and motives of the insurance providers involved. Insurance companies are not in business to perform public service, but rather to be profitable. In efforts to support this goal, insurers have an aggressive team of adjusters, claim representatives and lawyers. Those analyzing claims on behalf of insurers are seeking to resolve the matter at the lowest possible cost. With this in mind, accident victims should be aware that they are experienced negotiators acting in their best interests.
Having an experienced personal injury attorney is critical to obtain the compensation that is fair. Accident attorneys are familiar with the tactics these companies may use and will work to maximize recovery through verdicts or settlements.
When Fault is Contested
In cases where motorists possess differing opinions regarding who is at-fault in an accident, you will benefit from having an experienced attorney. Even if the police report cited another driver as at-fault, it is possible that you could end up unable to pursue recovery. The police report is not the only piece of indicative evidence used to determine who is at-fault and by what percentage at-fault.
In these situations, the totality of the evidence will be important as much as the specific details. It can be technical in nature and involve many variables, such as witnesses, photos, traffic laws, and accident reconstruction. An experienced personal injury car accident attorney should have the insight to put it all together in a persuasive, legally-sound narrative.
In certain accident situations with very minor injuries or property damage, accepting the insurance's settlement offer is advisable. The more serious the accident, however, the more there is potential for problems, and your ability to recover maximum compensation becomes more critical. Here are some questions to consider when analyzing the accident:
- How severe are your injuries? Is there hospitalization, surgery, disfigurement, or the potential for long-term disability?
- Will your injuries have other long-term ramifications, such as an inability to perform your job or lost income while you recover?
- Are you experiencing pain and/or emotional distress?
- How large were the losses incurred for property damage, medical expenses, and other losses?
Serious accidents can quickly become difficult to navigate alone. In the initial phase, you will encounter insurance company claims and potential settlement offers that may be insufficient. In these instances, it may be necessary to begin litigation by filing a suit against the negligent parties.
Moving forward, you will need to gather medical records, accident reports, and other evidence. There are court processes that can become complex, and these include discovery, motions, and potential expert witness deposition and testimony. Having an experienced attorney representing you is critical because you can be assured that you can proceed to trial, if necessary.
Damages & Compensation
Pursuing, proving and calculating damages can be complex as well. There is a host of potential damages that may be recoverable in claims of personal injury in Colorado, including:
- Medical expenses: Past, present & future
- Losses of enjoyment in life-based on your limitations
- Physical deformity, disfigurement or impairment
- Pain & suffering: past, present & future
- Losses of consortium or society, particularly in wrongful death situations involving a spouse or parent
- Lost wages or earning capability: past, present & future.
If you are concerned with how you will pay for your legal representation, you should be aware that often you will not encounter “out of pocket expenses”. The majority of attorneys will represent you on a contingency basis, meaning that they will be compensated after a jury award or settlement is secured.