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Your insurance company is required to act in good faith when working with you to resolve a claim. If the insurance company acts unfairly or unreasonably in resolving the claim, the insurance company has likely committed “bad faith” entitling you to make a breach of contract claim against your insurance company.
Comparative Fault or Comparative Negligence
This applies when the injured person is partially responsible for causing his or her own injuries. For example, if two drivers are involved in a crash, they may each be partially responsible for causing the crash. Perhaps the defendant ran a stop sign, but the plaintiff was speeding. The defendant can argue that if the plaintiff was not speeding, then she could have avoided the crash or at least would have been going slower and her injuries might have been less severe. The defendant raises this issue as an "affirmative defense." Comparative fault or comparative negligence laws vary from state to state. In Colorado, if the plaintiff is 50% or more at fault, then she cannot recover anything. If she is less than 50% at fault, then her total damages (the monetary value of her claim) is reduced by the percentage that she was at fault.
Contingent Fee Agreement
A contingent fee agreement is a written contract signed by both the client and his or her lawyers. Under a contingent fee agreement, the lawyers are not paid until they recover funds for the client. If the lawyers fail to recover funds, the client does not owe them any legal fees for time spent working on a client’s case.
Different types of monetary claims you may be able to recover. See each specific type for more information.
A deposition is a statement made by parties to a lawsuit or witnesses in a lawsuit, under oath and in the presence of a court reporter. The person who is having his or her deposition taken is placed under oath and is asked questions by the opposing attorney. The entire proceeding is recorded by the court reporter and the court reporter prepares a transcript of the deposition. The statements made in a deposition are binding on the person who made the statements and can be used as evidence at trial.
Governmental Immunity or Sovereign Immunity
Generally, public entities cannot be held liable for their negligent acts unless they agree to the contrary. There are limited exceptions to this general rule. For example, in Colorado, the exceptions are contained in the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA). If your claim doesn’t fall into one of the specifically listed categories, you cannot recover against the responsible public entity. In Colorado, there is also a requirement that you provide notice to the appropriate governmental agent within 182 days of the incident. Keep in mind that entities that you might not expect may fall under this rule, including many hospitals, schools, universities, and other places that are publicly owned or funded. Colorado publishes a list of local governmental entities. Keep in mind that this list does not include every entity that is covered by the CGIA.
An insurance release is what the insurance company will require you to sign to get paid for your claim. Insurance companies will often pressure you to settle a claim without hiring an attorney. This release will prevent you from obtaining additional money for your claim. The release requires that you make no future claims for your accident against the at fault party. Once an insurance release is signed it cannot be undone.
Litigation is the filing of a lawsuit. It is the process in which formal pleadings are filed with the court and you “go to court.” In a personal injury case, most cases are resolved without litigation. Instead, your attorneys will negotiate a settlement with the insurance company before litigation is necessary. When a settlement cannot be reached, then your attorney will start the legal process of litigation. Litigation is much more than a trial. First, your attorney will file a pleading called a “Complaint.” This pleading generally describes the parties to the lawsuit, the nature of the accident and injuries, and it asks the court to order one side to pay the other money. After the complaint is filed and litigation begins, it usually takes one-year before the case goes to trial. Most cases that enter litigation are settled prior to trial.
Medical Payments Coverage (Med-Pay)
Medical Payments Coverage, also called Med-Pay, is insurance offered by your automobile insurance company that will cover your medical bills caused by an accident.
Many times, when the incident or accident happens on someone else’s property, different laws apply. These types of cases include most trip and fall and slip and fall claims, many dog bite incidents, and dangerous conditions on the property, like dilapidated stairs or the lack of handrails.
One of the categories of damages that can be paid for due to an accident. It includes things that were lost, destroyed or damaged. Examples are your car, motorcycle, bicycle or personal items (cell phone, computer, glasses, tools or work equipment). A property damage claim is distinct from the bodily injury damages claim and can sometimes be resolved separately while still keeping the bodily injury claim open. When appropriate, it can also include payment for diminution in value or loss of use in addition to payment for repairs or the value of a totaled vehicle.
This is an agreement between the you and (most often) the insurance company. A settlement is a decision made by you and the at fault party’s insurance company that you will receive a certain sum of money for your injuries, damages and pain and suffering. Settlement can occur at any time, including before and after filing a lawsuit.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the time limit to resolve a claim or file a case. Different types of claims have different time limits. Also, statutes of limitation vary from state to state. If you do not settle your claim or file the case in court by the statute of limitations, then the claim expires and you are completely barred from making it. This is an incredibly important date to know and it often requires an attorney to make a detailed factual analysis of your circumstances to determine which statute of limitations applies. For example, in Colorado, an auto crash has a different statute of limitations than a premises liability claim. But if an auto crash results in death, then it becomes a Wrongful Death claim, which has a shorter statute of limitations.
Subrogation is the right of an insurance company or medical provider to be repaid for the treatment it paid for or provided to you. When you receive money for your injury claim, your health insurance company and medical providers are often entitled to payment out of the money the injured party receives. If you do not repay your insurance company or medical providers you could be held accountable and sued for payment. What you are not told is you are often entitled to a discount on the amount owed if you hire an attorney or certain circumstances exist.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Injury to the brain from a blow or force. TBI can also be caused by rapid rotational forces without the head actually striking anything, like when a vehicle occupant is rapidly restrained by the seatbelt in a crash and the head snaps forward to a sudden stop. It includes everything from minor concussions to severe damage caused by a skull fracture or object penetrating the brain tissue. Symptoms can include everything from headaches to speech impairment to death.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM / UIM Coverage)
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage, also called UM / UIM Coverage, is insurance coverage that you purchase to protect yourself from being in an accident with someone who has no insurance, or only very little insurance. If someone with no car insurance, or only very little insurance ($25,000) injures you in an accident, your medical bills could easily be more than $25,000. UM / UIM coverage allows you to recover your damages and medical expenses when another drive is uninsured or underinsured.
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