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Uninsured Driver Accident in Colorado

01/28/2021

Uninsured drivers can be a hazard to other drivers on the roads. If you've been involved in an uninsured driver accident in Colorado, the situation may become complicated quickly. After the initial impact, most people check to make sure that everyone in the car is safe. However, once the initial shock is over, your concern goes to the vehicle. Once the accident wasn't your fault, the insurer would cover both your damages and the other party's. However, that automatically assumes the other person has their insurance sorted out. Uninsured motorist coverage raises a lot of complications that an accident lawyer may be able to help with.

The Colorado General Assembly. mentions that liability insurance is required by any motorist within the state. So, what happens with uninsured motorist coverage? Sometimes motorists have insurance, but they let their policies lapse. Other times, the policy may not extend indemnification to the other party for injuries or damages. In either case, uninsured or underinsured, you may have the challenge to overcome. Uninsured motorist coverage may derive from your own policy if the other party doesn't have one.

Why Indemnification Is Vital

A female Uninsured Driver Accident driver braces for a crash on a Colorado road.

The Insurance Information Institute estimates that, as of 2015, 13% of motorists in the US were uninsured, with Colorado averaging 13.3% of drivers without cover. Indemnification comes in many forms, with minimum liability and property damage being the base cover a motorist should have. Collision indemnification helps deal with the fallout from accidents, and comprehensive indemnity deals with collisions with anything else that isn't another vehicle. Providers don't limit themselves to regular indemnity, though. Many of them offer extras that add to each policy, making for a convoluted system. Uninsured motorist insurance would cover both parties in the event of a collision.

Colorado's polciy providers are mandated to offer uninsured motorist coverage for drivers that don't have policies. Typical policies may cover anywhere between $25,000 to $100,000 of damages. Motorists are always on the lookout for the lowest policy cost, and some companies take advantage of this fact. By including anti-stacking provisions in their offerings, they reduce the cost motorists have to pay for their indemnification. According to the International Risk Management Institute (IRMI), insurers may introduce these to reduce their liability under multiple policies. As a result, only a single policy would trigger demanding less indemnification from the insurance company.

Colorado Indemnity Requirements for Motorists

As mentioned before, all underinsured and uninsured car owners are offered indemnity by insurers within the state. Basic auto insurance policies provided by these businesses covers you and the other motorist in case of accidents. However, motorists aren't mandated to buy from any particular insurance company. However, they do have to submit a written statement that they turned down the indemnification to the company. Colorado motorists have their policies broken down into two types, bodily injury coverage, and property damage coverage. The law states that a motorist needs to be covered for a minimum of $25,000 per person on bodily injury coverage and $15,000 in property damage indemnity. The bodily injury liability would go towards medical expenses for injuries pertaining to both parties.

We mentioned anti-stacking indemnification before, but Colorado has managed to legislate these issues successfully. According to Colorado Revised Statute 10-4-609, insurers are no longer able to use anti-stacking language in their policies. The legislature decided to stop these underhanded practices to ensure that residents of the state got full access to the benefits they were paying for.

Is Colorado a "No-Fault" state?

A man stands next to his SUV after rear ending another driver on a Colorado freeway

Colorado used to be a no-fault state. Insurance Journal mentions that the no-fault status was repealed in 2004, making Colorado an at-fault state. In a no-fault state, motorists have insurance that covers their own damages. Because of the type of indemnity, it doesn't matter who was at fault, a claim would overreach individual party. The insurance company would pay for any damages and medical expenses incurred as a result of accidents. In these states, an injured party may file a lawsuit against a defendant if they believe it was that person's fault.

An at-fault state (also known as a tort state) puts the cause of accidents on one of the two individuals involved. That person, as the fault driver, is responsible for bearing all the costs of accidents, including the other person's medical bills and repairs. An insurer claim may be submitted un behalf of the plaintiff to ensure compensation. The at-fault driver may even be required to pay out of pocket if they don't have indemnification. Within tort states,drivers are required to maintain liability coverage. However, liability doesn't cover all damages, and the injured party may file a lawsuit after the fact to recoup damages not covered by insurers.

Uninsured motorist coverage is a typical requirement for policies in tort states. In this situations, the uninsured motorist coverage handles repairs and bodily harm from individuals that may not already be covered. Underinsured motorist coverage also applies to individuals that don't have enough indemnification for their vehicles. Underinsured motorist indemnification may be as important in these tort states.

Penalties for Uninsured Driver Accident in Colorado

Drivers are required to carry proof of their registration at all times when operating a vehicle. Colorado uses a database to check registered drivers. If they find a driver with a registered vehicle that doesn't have indemnification, they send the policyholder a notice. This notice serves as a warning, and it's the only one you'll get from the state. An officer that catches a driver without a valid certificate can leverage penalties against them. Among the severe penalties driving without a registered policy carries are:

  • Four points against the driver's license
  • On your first offense, you will be fined $500. The DMV may suspend your license until you can prove that you have valid proof of indemnity
  • On your second offense, you'll be fined $1000, and your license will be suspended for four months
  • On each successive offense, you'll be fined $1000 and have your license suspended for eight months
  • The court has the power to add up to forty hours of community service in addition to any of the abovementioned penalties

If the DMV has your license, you'll be required to pay a fee for its return. This fee also applies even if the license isn't suspended. To avoid suspension of the license, you must apply within seven days of its capture with a completed SR22 form, which you'll be required to maintain for three years. The officer has the discretion to issue you a summons to court to answer the charge of no liability insurance as a separate issue.

What to Do Immediately After Accidents

Immediately following accidents, once you ensure that there are no lasting or life-threatening injuries, you should deal with the following:

  •  Exchange information with the other party. This data includes contact and insurance company information.
  • Get a signed statement from the uninsured driver to use with uninsured motorist coverage. Some insurers require this as a prerequisite for extending cover.
  • Submit a claim to your own insurer for uninsured motorist coverage. The claim will cover all the information you collected as well as the activity surrounding the incident.

It's vital that you check with your insurer before accepting any settlement proposed by the uninsured or underinsured driver. Typically, Colorado car accident policies have stipulations regarding the acceptance of settlements. If you don't ask permission from your provider before accepting a settlement and your contract has this stipulation, you might not be able to submit a claim for underinsured motorist coverage to your own insurer.

A silver four door vehicle with a dent on a door

What If The Insurance Company Won't Cover the Damages?

Unfortunately, there are times when your insurance won't cover the cost of damages after accidents with uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage. You may find yourself at odds with your own insurer, which may argue that you were partially at fault, removing their liability from the equation. If you were slightly at fault, they might reduce the compensation and coverage of injuries paid out to you because of that fact. You should consult a Colorado personal injury lawyer at Firouzbakht Law Firm if you find yourself in this situation.

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