One minute you’re driving home from an errand or from work. The next minute, you’re pulled over on the side of the road because someone slammed into the back of your car.
In Colorado, drivers have the option to obtain uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, which can be highly beneficial in cases where bodily injury losses are caused by a hit-and-run driver, a driver with no automobile insurance, or a driver of an underinsured vehicle.
Being in an auto accident is bad enough, but what happens if the driver who hit you doesn’t have insurance? Contrary to popular belief, uninsured motorists are more common in Colorado than most people think. According to the Insurance Research Council, over 16% of Colorado drivers don’t have insurance. Furthermore, many drivers have insufficient insurance to cover the economic losses stemming from serious accidents. The good news is that you can still recover by filing an uninsured motorist claim in Colorado. Read on to learn more about filing an uninsured motorist claim and how a qualified auto accident lawyer can help you.
The Basics of an Uninsured Motorist Claim
Normally, if you become involved in a car accident with another driver, their insurance policy covers your losses. This allows all drivers to be compensated for damage to their person and property. For this reason, Colorado requires drivers to carry auto insurance. In fact, Colorado requires that all drivers carry auto insurance coverage, including at least:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death to any single person involved in a car accident;
- $15,000 for property damage (including vehicle damage) caused by a single accident; and
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death to all the people involved in a single accident.
Obviously, individuals can (and should) elect to have a higher amount of auto insurance coverage. But these are the minimum figures.
That said, an uninsured motorist has no insurance policy to cover your damages, which means you will receive little or no compensation from the other driver. You have the right to sue the other driver directly, but many uninsured drivers are low-income and don’t have the money to pay for your damages. In addition, there’s always the chance that the at-fault driver disappears or flees the state. Therefore, the best way to protect yourself from an uninsured motorist is to get additional coverage on your own insurance policy.
How to Protect Yourself from an Uninsured Motorist
Rather than relying on the other driver to have the appropriate amount of insurance coverage, your best bet is to boost your own coverage. Most insurance providers now offer uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This is a special kind of insurance coverage that provides you protection from losses regardless of whether the at-fault driver has auto insurance.
How Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Work in Colorado?
With uninsured motorist coverage, your car insurance provider can essentially act as the uninsured driver’s insurance company. There are two kinds of uninsured motorist policies in Colorado. The first policy is for property damage caused by an uninsured motorist. The second kind compensates you for bodily injuries stemming from an accident with an uninsured driver.
How Can I File an Uninsured Motorist Claim in Colorado?
The process for filing an uninsured motorist claim begins immediately after the car accident. First, exchange contact information with the at-fault driver. Ideally, the at-fault driver will be honest with you and tell you that they don’t have insurance. However, uninsured drivers have been known to flee the scene of an accident or give false insurance information. Whatever happens, be sure to contact your insurance company. Cooperate fully with them while reporting the basic details of the accident.
After the accident, speak with a lawyer. This is a good idea regardless of whether you were struck by an underinsured or uninsured driver. But it’s absolutely vital that you contact an attorney if you discover that the at-fault driver did not have insurance. A knowledgeable auto accident attorney will have experience with these kinds of cases, and they can advise you on your potential options for recovery.
How Much Can I Receive from an Uninsured Motorist Claim?
There’s no easy way to answer this question. The truth is that the amount you can recover varies greatly depending on the circumstances and facts of your case. One key variable is how great your monetary losses were. In any case, hiring a lawyer can certainly increase your chances of a favorable recovery.
Generally, there are two kinds of damages in Colorado: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages compensate the victim for their tangible financial losses after a car accident. Economic damages include things like:
- Hospital bills;
- The cost of physical therapy and prescription medication;
- Lost wages;
- Property damage; and
- Lost future earning capacity.
In certain situations, economic damages can also include future lost wages that stem from injuries caused by the accident.
Non-economic damages result from injuries and losses that you simply can’t put a price tag on. Examples include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and disfigurement. However, there are limits to what you can recover. Colorado law originally limited non-economic damages to $250,000 in most cases. That said, the cap on non-economic damages has increased substantially from that number because of inflation.
Want to Learn About Uninsured Motorist Claims and Compensation Amounts in Colorado?
Having uninsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance policy is a great way to defend yourself from uninsured motorists. Yet it doesn’t cover every possible situation. And even in cases where you do have uninsured motorist coverage, you can still have difficulties getting your insurance company to fulfill its obligations. That’s why you should hire a lawyer.
Here at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C., we’re on a mission to educate our clients about their rights after a car accident. We also want to ensure that you are fully aware of your rights.
Unlike the average law firm, our attorneys have received special recognition for their outstanding professionalism and competence. We also have a demonstrated track record of success. Just take a moment to review our case results to see for yourself.
Even if you’re still not sure whether you need an attorney, you can discuss it with us by setting up a free consultation. Call us today or reach out online to get started!