Whether car accidents, slip and falls, dog bites, or a dozen other types of incidents, accidents in Colorado happen all the time, many of them resulting in serious injuries and fatalities. Unfortunately, many of these accidents are caused by another person’s negligence or carelessness.
If you have been injured in an accident, you may be facing tremendous expenses because of it. These can include extensive medical bills, lost wages due to time away from work, and expenses to repair or replace your personal property.
In Colorado, those who are injured by a negligent party are entitled to file a personal injury claim for their damages. If fair compensation cannot be recovered by insurance, a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party may be the next remedy. If you have been injured in an accident caused by another individual, you should get the advice of a Colorado Springs personal injury attorney to understand your legal rights.
Is Colorado An At-Fault State?
Colorado is what is known as an at-fault insurance state. If you were injured in an accident that was caused by another party, that individual’s auto insurance will ultimately pay for your medical treatment costs and other financial damages.
How Does an Insurance Claim Work in Colorado After an Accident?
Although the at-fault party is liable for your damages after an accident, this doesn’t happen immediately as bills come in. A personal injury claim will need to consider all costs and damages over the course of your treatment, and that won’t be known until sometime in the future. In the meantime, your medical bills will still need to be paid until your claim has been settled.
There are several ways to do this:
- If you have Med Pay (medical payments coverage) through your personal auto insurance policy, this will pay a portion of your costs, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Med Pay will only pay for medical expenses up to the level of your coverage. Your medical payments coverage carrier cannot seek repayment from your personal injury settlement, nor can the at-fault insurance company deduct those benefits from your settlement.
- You can use your personal health insurance. In this case, your health insurance company will want to be reimbursed when there is an at-fault party involved. This entitles them to subrogate or place a lien against any personal injury settlement. With subrogation, your health insurance company will look to the at-fault party’s insurance to be reimbursed for their costs.
- You can get care or treatment on a medical lien. There are companies and individual providers that offer this option and agree to finance your health care expenses, placing a lien against any compensation you get from your personal injury settlement or recovery.
There are pros and cons to each one of these options, and you should speak with your personal injury attorney to see which may be the best option for you.
How Does Med Pay Work?
Med Pay is optional coverage on your auto policy. All auto insurance carriers are required to offer it, but policyholders can opt out, so you may or may not have this coverage. Medical payments coverage is offered at different levels, starting at $5,000 and going up to $100,000. Although benefits vary depending on the carrier, they commonly pay for
- Medical treatment costs for injuries to you or anyone in your car, regardless of who is at fault
- Any costs of injuries you sustain in someone else’s car, as a pedestrian, or riding a bicycle
- The deductible for your health insurance coverage
- Providers who may be out of your health insurance network
- Reimbursement to your health insurance company
While Med Pay is a great benefit for most people, depending on the auto insurance carrier, it may have limitations, and it is critical to understand what your coverage limitations are.
Personal Health Insurance After an Accident
When you have incurred medical costs due to an accident that was not your fault, you can use your personal health insurance to pay these bills. However, your insurance will want to be reimbursed by the at-fault party’s insurance company. This is referred to as subrogation.
You are still liable for any expenses, and you will want to make sure that your settlement will cover all the costs that your health insurance has paid out to your providers. In this case, having a personal injury lawyer representing you will ensure that you are getting the settlement and compensation you deserve after an accident. He or she may also be able to negotiate costs with your providers.
How Do Medical Liens Work?
A medical lien is a legal demand for repayment that can be issued against your personal injury case. It gives the party that provided your medical care the ability to recover reimbursement for those costs after a personal injury recovery.
The entity issuing that lien can be a doctor, a hospital, or other healthcare provider that has agreed to offer you medical care until you receive a recovery. It becomes your liability and if you fail to pay off the lien, that entity or individual can take collection action against you. Your attorney will pay the lienholder from your personal injury settlement or recovery.
How is the At-Fault Party Held Accountable for My Injuries?
In the meantime, the at-fault party is still accountable for your medical costs. This will either be done through a negotiated settlement through that party’s insurance company or a civil lawsuit against the insurance company or the individual should it be impossible to get a fair settlement through negotiation.
Most individuals have little experience dealing with large insurance companies, much less understand what their settlement is truly worth or negotiate a fair personal injury settlement. Most insurance companies offer quick settlements that are inadequate to cover what most injury victims are entitled to. Once you accept a settlement, you have given up your right to make a future claim. This is why it is critical to get the assistance of a Colorado personal injury attorney to work on your behalf.
Getting the Advice of a Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident in Colorado Springs, you should get the guidance of an experienced Colorado Springs personal injury lawyer to help you through this confusing time. At Patterson Weaver Law, LLC, we offer a free consultation so you can understand your rights and obligations under the law. Contact us to schedule an appointment.