Whose Insurance Do You Use After A Car Accident?

You’ve been in a car accident that was not your fault. You’re injured, and you want to get all of the money to which you are entitled, but you’re unsure of how to proceed. The Paul Wilkinson Law Firm is here to help you out.

In Colorado, the driver who crashes into your car is responsible for paying for the damage to your vehicle and compensating you for your accident-related injuries and damages. However, not all drivers are adequately insured, and some do not have insurance at all. If this happens to you, you have the right to make a claim with your own insurance company for compensation of your accident-related injuries and damages – if you have the right coverage.

You can protect yourself from drivers without enough insurance by carrying uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage (UIM). UIM coverage pays for accident-related damages caused by a person who either does not have liability insurance or does not have enough coverage to pay for the damages caused. This coverage also applies if you are involved in a hit-and-run collision that is not your fault. If you have UIM coverage, you may file a claim with your insurance company. Your auto insurance company will pay for accident-related damages up to the limits of your policy.

Many people will wonder whether making a claim for UIM coverage will increase their insurance rates. Under Colorado law, making a UIM claim will not affect your insurance rates. The Code of Colorado Regulations 3-CCR 702-5 prohibits insurance companies from increasing premiums on a policy based on making, or payment of, a UIM claim.

UIM coverage is a valuable type of insurance coverage, and you can purchase additional coverage for added protection. In Colorado, before any policy is issued or renewed, the insurance company must offer UIM coverage in an amount equal to liability coverage. C.R.S. § 10-4-609.

Remember, UIM coverage is important to protect yourself against uninsured and underinsured drivers, and most importantly, making a claim for UIM benefits will not increase your rates.

What is Subrogation?

When you have been injured in an accident and your health insurance company pays out money on your behalf so you can get the treatment you need for your injuries, something called subrogation will occur in your case.

Subrogation means that one person or party (your health insurer) stands in the shoes of another (you). If your insurer has a right to subrogation, your insurer is permitted to collect the money that it paid out for your accident related medical care from your settlement or judgment. In short, your health insurance company has a right to be reimbursed. If you have health insurance of any type and you plan to use or are using it for care related to your case, the question you should be asking yourself is, “Does my health insurance company have a right to be paid back out of my settlement; and if so, should the insurer be paid back in full, in part, or even at all?” Without proper representation, the insurer will not tell you. The insurer will simply demand reimbursement in full, which may be against Colorado and/or Federal Law.

Here is an example, Sarah was injured in a motor vehicle collision. She has health insurance, and her health insurance paid for the medical treatment that she received as a result of the motor vehicle collision. Sarah receives a settlement from the at-fault party’s insurance company. Once she settles, her health insurance claims may be entitled to a portion of her settlement in the amount her medical insurance paid for her treatment. Sarah’s health insurance is claiming a right to subrogation and is demanding reimbursement. Sarah needs to know how much her insurer should be paid. Only an experienced attorney who understands complex and ever changing subrogation and insurance law can determine how much that health insurer should be paid back, if anything.

7 injured in 3-vehicle accident

A Colorado driver was accused of causing a multivehicle accident on Jan. 15. According to the Colorado Springs Police Department, the accident took place near the North Academy Boulevard and Constitution Avenue intersection in Colorado Springs.

The authorities stated that the driver of a Ford pickup truck was traveling east on Constitution Avenue at a high rate of speed when he ran a red light at about 2:30 a.m. The pickup crashed into a white Volkswagen that was heading south. The impact caused the Volkswagen to then be hit by a Hyundai that was traveling in the same direction. The driver then allegedly fled the scene of the accident, though he was taken into custody later the same day.

The accused driver was later identified as a 23-year-old man. He was ultimately charged with vehicular assault and other associated charges. In total, seven individuals were sent to the hospital for treatment. Two of the patients were being treated for serious injuries while the remaining five individuals were treated before being released.

People who get into car accidents are at risk for suffering from serious injuries, even if they did not cause the accident. If there is evidence that the driver who caused the accident was driving recklessly, impaired or distracted, the injured party can potentially file a personal injury claim against the driver. An attorney may assist with gathering the evidence that demonstrates the severity of his or her client’s injuries and how the injuries have impacted his or her life. In many cases, a lawyer negotiates with the responsible driver’s insurance company outside of court in order to seek compensation that sufficiently covers the damages.

Surprising place where accidents occur most often

Motorists in Colorado and throughout the country tend to do the majority of their driving within 25 miles of home. Therefore, it may not be surprising to hear that this is where the majority of accidents take place. While drivers may believe that they can rely on muscle memory when driving in familiar areas, it is always good to stay alert and responsive while behind the wheel.

Wearing a seat belt may also be an effective way to stay safe while operating a motor vehicle. This may be a good habit even when driving only a few hundred yards from home. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, most drivers who don’t wear seat belts cite the short nature of their trip for why they skip it. However, an accident could result in injuries no matter where a driver goes.

Drivers should be on the lookout for children or animals that may cross into the street unexpectedly. It is also a good idea to be on the lookout for drivers who may stop suddenly or otherwise take an unpredictable course of action while in close proximity to their vehicles. It is also possible for a vehicle to stop running at any time, and drivers need to be ready to react quickly if that happens.

The vast majority of motor vehicle accidents are attributable to human error. This usually means that a driver was negligent in some fashion, such as being inattentive, driving too fast for road or weather conditions, or impaired by alcohol. A person who has been injured in such a crash might find it advisable to have legal assistance in seeking compensation for medical expenses and other losses.

Driver duty and collision avoidance systems

In a recent study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, researchers found that collision avoidance systems are effective at preventing many types of car accidents in Colorado and throughout the U.S. The IIHS is a non-profit group, and its focus is on the reduction of injuries and deaths due to motor vehicle accidents.

The vice president for research at IIHS said that collision avoidance systems are “saving lives.” Furthermore, she added that anti-crash technology warning systems are working as intended. In its study, the IIHS found that collision avoidance systems reduce single-vehicle, side-swipe and head-on car crashes by 11 percent. Moreover, injury inducing car crashes of the same types get reduced by 21 percent when drivers operate vehicles equipped with anti-crash systems.

The findings by IIHS are interesting because they do not just show that collision avoidance systems work. The results also indicate that it’s likely that many drivers are disabling the crash avoidance technology. The researchers at IIHS found that car accident and injury reduction numbers were low when compared to findings from other studies that tracked U.S. fleet vehicles and Volvo cars in Sweden. Researchers in those studies found a 50 percent reduction in crash rates when collision avoidance systems were included as a feature in a vehicle and utilized.

Only 6 percent of vehicles sold at this time have lane-departure warning systems as a standard feature on basic models. Furthermore, only 9 percent of new vehicles being sold have blind-spot alert systems as a standard feature.

While collision avoidance systems reduce the likelihood of accidents, they do not eliminate the risk completely. Motorists who have been injured by reckless drivers may reach out to attorneys who can help obtain compensation for damages.

Autonomous vehicles might not be on the immediate horizon

While Colorado residents might anticipate the day when driverless cars will be widely available, it may not come as quickly as they might expect. There are several issues that must first be addressed before self-driving cars can be offered in mass production. Other factors may also make people less willing to purchase these vehicles when they are available.

Before driverless cars can be released to the public, state and federal lawmakers along with regulatory agencies will first need to draft new laws and regulations that specifically govern driverless vehicles. The process of drafting and passing these new laws and rules can take years. There are also thorny issues of liability that will need to be determined, including the party or parties that could be held financially responsible if a self-driving car is at fault in an accident and what type of insurance will need to be purchased.

Consumers are generally only willing to pay set amounts for advancements in technology. If driverless cars have higher prices, consumers are likelier to opt for traditional options. This has been shown with electric cars. Even though electric vehicles are competitively priced over their vehicle life as compared to other cars, fewer consumers opt to purchase them because the upfront costs are higher.

Car accidents may still happen once driverless cars are widely available. There may be issues during the transition period when self-driving cars are sharing the roads with traditional vehicles. Accidents may also be caused by defects in the equipment, software hacks and weather conditions. When people are the victims of car crashes that are not their fault, experienced personal injury attorneys might be able to offer them assistance. Attorneys may work to determine the party or parties who should be held financially responsible and then recover damages in amounts that will fairly compensate their clients for all of their losses.

Improved economy leads to higher driver death rate

Drivers in Colorado and across the U.S. have a slightly increased chance of dying in a car crash involving late-model vehicles, according to a report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. A main reason for the increase is the improving economy.

Using crash data from 2012 through 2015, IIHS calculated the overall driver death rates for 2014 models to be 30 deaths per 1 million registered vehicle years. The organization found that the vehicle with the worst driver fatality rate was the Hyundai Accent, with a rate of 104 fatalities per 1 million registered vehicle years. On the other end of the scale, 11 car and truck models had zero fatalities per 1 million registered model years.

In 2011, IIHS researchers found that driver death rates had dropped by over 33 percent over the previous three years. The decline was attributed to improving vehicle safety standards. However, researchers have linked the increase for 2014 models to the improving economy. This is because people are more likely to go out to eat and go on vacation when they have more disposable income. Researchers also found that people are more likely to speed during robust economies.

Victims of automobile accidents often suffer catastrophic injuries that require weeks or months of expensive medical care. In some cases, they are left permanently disabled. In the event that it can be determined that the accident was caused by the negligence of another driver, such as one who was impaired by alcohol, distracted by a cellphone or speeding, an attorney could possibly help an injured victim seek appropriate compensation for the losses that have been sustained.

Source: IIHS, “Higher driver death rate is a downside of economic recovery“, May 25, 2017

3 vehicles given top safety rating by IIHS

Colorado residents looking to purchase a new vehicle may be interested in one of three cars that were given the highest rating for crashworthiness by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. These vehicles were the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan, the Lincoln Continental and the Toyota Avalon. Three other vehicles that were tested, including the Tesla Model S, did not qualify to receive this safety rating.

The Tesla Model S and the other two vehicles, the Chevy Impala and the Ford Taurus, all failed the small overlap front test. This particular test, which was introduced in 2012, tests the structural integrity of the vehicle’s safety cage. It analyzes this through a controlled impact to the driver-side corner, simulating a collision with, for example, a telephone pole.

The crash results for the Tesla Model S were particularly surprising as CEO Elon Musk has been to tout the safety of the vehicle. According to the IIHS, the Tesla’s seat belt is not strong enough. Further, the impact caused the dummy’s head to move too far forward, meaning it hit the steering wheel during the collision. It was not noted if the Model S passed the other four tests designed to determine the safety of the vehicle.

If a car accident results in passenger injuries, those who were affected may have the ability to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who was determined to be liable. If an auto defect caused the injuries to be more severe than they would have been otherwise, those who were injured may also have the ability to seek compensation from the vehicle manufacturer. A personal injury attorney may assist with determining who could held liable based on the circumstances surrounding the crash and how much in compensation the injured victim may be entitled to.

Study finds aggressive driving to be relatively common

Colorado drivers may be interested to learn that nearly 80 percent of participants in a July 2016 study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety admitted to experiencing road rage at least once in the prior year. According to that same study, about eight million American drivers engaged in extreme road rage activities such as intentionally hitting another vehicle or getting out of a car to confront another motorist.

Poor driving, busy traffic and general stress were cited as factors that may lead to road rage. In some cases, the perceived offenses of other drivers were relatively minor in nature. The study found that roughly 90 percent of respondents feel that aggressive drivers are a threat to their safety. Roughly 66 percent found that aggressive driving was a bigger problem today than it was three years before the study took place.

Male drivers as well as those between the ages of 19 to 39 were more likely than others to behave aggressively behind the wheel. Furthermore, men were three times more likely than women to get out of a vehicle to confront a driver or hit another vehicle on purpose.

Car crashes may result in serious injuries such as concussions, broken bones or whiplash. If a driver is negligent in causing a crash, he or she may be liable for any financial damages that an injured victim may incur. Negligent actions might include texting while driving or failing to stop at a traffic light. Compensation may pay for medical bills or help make up for lost wages or future earnings.