Every day, there are thousands of vehicle crashes. That number fluctuates, but there were almost 7.28 million crashes in 2016. It breaks down to almost 20,000 crashes per day. And, those are just the accidents where police were called to the scene. Many crashes are so minor that you walk away with no injuries. If that’s the case, can you still file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver?
Personal injuries do not have to be physical injuries. They can be emotional injuries or situations that caused financial distress. It’s important that you remember that before you settle with the other driver’s insurance company. You know your situation better than anyone. If the accident made you suffer a loss of any form, you could have a valid personal injury case. Much of this depends on your state’s laws regarding personal injury complaints.
At-Fault vs. No-Fault Insurance Laws
In states like Colorado where an at-fault system is practiced, the insurance company for the at-fault insurance must pay the other driver’s losses and damages. Colorado was a no-fault state until 2003. This meant that regardless of who caused the accident, the insurance company of the driver paid only for that driver’s damages and losses.
The move to an at-fault system changed the minimum coverage a driver must have. Higher insurance coverage is possible, but the minimums required by law in Colorado are:
- $15,000 for property damage
- $25,000 for injury or death for one person in an accident
- $50,000 total amount paid for injuries and deaths caused in an accident
Take a closer look at this. Say the other driver crashes into your house. The driver’s insurance policy has a $15,000 limit. You get an estimate for repairs, and it’s going to cost $20,000. The insurance company is not going to go above that limit.
With these minimums in place, there is always the chance that the insurance company’s settlement offer isn’t enough to cover the losses you face. If that’s the case, a personal injury claim may become the best way to try to get the actual value of your losses.
Here is Why You May Have a Case
Any time you can prove another driver is at fault, you could have a case. You do need to prove the other driver was negligent and that you share none of the blame. You need to prove that the driver was not following driving rules, that you suffered a loss of some form, and that the other driver’s negligence caused your loss. If there is any question or you’re unable to prove those things, it’s unlikely you’d win.
When it comes to loss, it doesn’t have to be that you were physically injured. You may find yourself scared to drive in certain situations without having a panic attack. You were fine before the accident, so you know it happened because of the other driver. However, it is important to remember that most personal injury law firms deal just with that — injuries — so if you have a minor accident that did not result in major loss, most personal injury firms won’t take on your case.
Other ways you could have suffered a loss following a car accident include issues like being forced to miss an important appointment that was scheduled the day of the accident. You couldn’t get to it on time and didn’t have time to cancel it. Missing that appointment cost you a client and a salary increase. You could have a valid personal injury complaint.
You’re a professional photographer. A truck backed into your parked car while you were in the post office and smashed the back window of your SUV. Pouring rain ruined the photography equipment and proofs you had in the back. You have to schedule new photo shoots with several clients. This is another example of a situation where you may decide to file a personal injury lawsuit despite the fact that there were no physical injuries.
Circle back to the requirement of proving that the other driver was responsible for your loss. It can be very hard to prove. Using statistics from Black’s Law Dictionary, no more than 5 percent of personal injury cases go to trial. Of those cases, an average of 1 out of 10 trials leads to the desired outcome. These cases that do go to trial can take months or even years. You have to be patient and understand the process.
This is why it’s important to contact a knowledgeable attorney with a strong success record. You’ll have an advocate and someone knowledgeable of the laws and requirements. The Denver car accident lawyers at Jordan, Herington & Rowley have won more than $500 million for their clients. Reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re happy to discuss your situation and let you know if you have a case. Call (303) 647-3029 for a free consultation.