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Colorado Car Accident Compensation Laws

Whether you are carving up rural routes through the Rockies or at a dead stop in downtown Denver, it's a near certainty that, at some point, you will be in a car accident.

At that point, Colorado's complicated laws will determine whether and how much compensation you will recover for your damaged vehicle, medical bills, and other injuries.

Continue reading to learn more about Colorado car accident compensation laws.

'At Fault' Rules Now Apply

Until a change in laws in 2003, Colorado was a "no fault" state when it came to auto insurance claims. Now, under the newer "tort system," fault on the part of one of the drivers must be shown before insurance claims will be paid out.

For drivers injured in an accident, this means they must file claims with the other driver's insurance company. For denied claims, the injured party must prove fault on the other driver's part. Depending on the other driver's own levels of coverage, the injured driver may see some relief if they have Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage.

It's important to review your insurance policy or consult with a qualified attorney if you're concerned about the specifics of a particular accident. It's particularly important to do either or both of these things when you're presenting new claims and arguing against unfair denials.

The chart below breaks down key aspects of Colorado's car accident compensation laws.

Statute of Limitations

Under relevant law, the statute of limitations is three years (C.R.S.§ 13-80-101(n)).

Non-Economic Damage Cap

Adjusted for inflation, this cap is currently set at over $600,000. For more information about this cap, review Colorado's laws related to relevant limitations on damages and legal actions at C.R.S. § 13-21-102.5 and § 13-21-203.7.

Wrongful Death Damage Cap

Under relevant law, the same cap for non-economic damages applies. However, an exception applies when the death results from a felony. Under these circumstances, the cap will not be observed.

Punitive Damages Cap

Under relevant law, the amount shall be determined on a "one-to-one" limit when measured against actual damages. However, it shall not exceed an amount equal to the actual damages awarded to the plaintiff.

Other Limits


Types of Damages

The obvious claim is for damages to your car. However, the impact of a car accident does not stop there. Additional types of damages that result from car accidents include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical Expenses
  • Rental cars
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of affection or companionship

Damages that result from car accidents are often categorized as economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages include past and future medical expenses, lost income, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Non-economic damages cover things like pain, emotional distress, and disability or disfigurement.

Limits on Damages

The first limit that an attorney will consider in any car accident case is the time limit for filing your case. This is known as the statute of limitations. In Colorado, this period is three years for auto accidents. The other major limits on damages are found in Colorado's various caps on recovery in personal injury cases. These caps mostly affect non-economic damages and punitive damages, as opposed to directly provable damages to your vehicle or medical bills.

The general cap for injuries associated with pain, suffering, and emotional distress is adjusted for inflation and currently exceeds $600,000. However, the cap does not apply when the injured party can prove permanent physical impairment. This is a key factor for attorneys to argue in court and to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence.

In wrongful death actions, there is a similar cap. However, there is another exception that may apply. When the death resulted from a felony, the cap will no longer be observed. This is known as the felonious killings exception. It includes manslaughter, which is often the conviction following from a deadly drunk-driving accident.

Finally, punitive damages are limited to "one for one" against the actual damages. This means the jury's award cannot exceed the amount of the actual damages awarded to the plaintiff. Examples of what are taken into account in determining such awards are the cost of a replacement vehicle and hospital bills.

Learn How Colorado Car Accident Compensation Laws Affect Your Case

With the change to "at-fault" claim laws, which pit victims against insurance companies that save money by denying claims, it's more important than ever to find out how the damage caps may affect you. Speak to a qualified car accident lawyer in Colorado to learn more about the strength of your claim and the amount of compensation that may be available.

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