Collecting Damages Requires Establishing Negligence
Many people are injured in automobile accidents through no fault of their own. However, just because someone violated a traffic law and caused an accident does not necessarily mean that he or she will be found liable in a personal injury lawsuit. To recover damages, the injured person must be able to prove fault on the part of another individual or entity.
Although fault for an accident may seem obvious to an injured person, that is usually not the case for insurance companies, who will review the crash and assign blame based on their investigation. For this reason, most injured people need the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney, not only to build a strong case, but also to improve their chances to obtain fair compensation for their injuries.
Establishing Fault for a Car Crash
To establish liability in an auto accident case, negligence must be proved. There are certain situations and types of accidents where liability can be somewhat clear. These include:
- Rear-end collisions. The basic rules of the road require that vehicles keep a safe following distance, so a vehicle that hits another from behind will almost always be found responsible for the resulting damages.
- Left turns. Generally, a car making a left turn at an intersection will be held responsible when there is a collision with another vehicle approaching from the other direction. However, there can be exceptions, such as if the vehicle traveling straight through the intersection was speeding or running a red light.
- Impairment. Although a drunk driver’s fault for an accident is not automatic, the fact of being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and arrested for DUI will make it hard to escape at least some degree of culpability for the crash.
- Pedestrian accidents. Motorists are required to be extra-cautious in the presence of pedestrians. However, pedestrians are not considered blameless in all circumstances, such as when they avoid using a designated crosswalk or walk along a busy highway at night.
In cases where liability may not be as clear-cut, injured parties will need to establish fault by proving the four elements of negligence. These include:
- A driver’s legal obligation to act responsibly to avoid injuring another person.
- Breach of duty. The responsible party failed to behave with the level of care that an ordinary person would have used under similar circumstances, and therefore breached his or her duty, resulting in harm.
- Proximate cause. The party’s breach of duty directly caused another person to sustain damages or suffer injury.
- Harms, such as property damage, physical injuries, and emotional pain that resulted from the negligent person’s failure to use reasonable care.
Colorado follows a modified comparative fault rule. This means that an injured party’s damages will be decreased according to the degree of his or her relative fault. As long as the injured party’s fault is under 50 percent, the law allows recovery of a reduced award, but if his or her fault is determined to be 50 percent or more, no recovery is available.
Contact an Experienced Colorado Automobile Accident Attorney
Did you sustain serious injuries in a car accident that was the fault of another driver? Contact the Law Offices of Daniel R. Rosen online or call 303-454-8000 or 800-ROSEN-911 to schedule your free initial consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney today.