It can be difficult to know when it’s appropriate to launch a personal injury lawsuit. It’s human nature to assume that when there’s an accident that you’re at fault, or at the very least, that it was an actual accident. However, the truth is that most accidents are preventable, and many are due to the negligence of another party. It might also be tempting to just take an offered cash settlement from a corporation or insurance company. But more often than not in these cases, you won’t get the compensation you deserve.
So the question becomes: when and how should a party be held accountable for injury? We’ve talked to a top Colorado personal injury lawyer to answer questions victims of negligence might have about the requirements and process of personal injury lawsuits.
In Colorado, there are a series of steps to follow when preparing to launch and navigate a personal injury case:
- First, contact a personal injury lawyer. They will confirm that your claim is within the statute of limitations and evaluate the merits of your case. (See next section for statute of limitations in Colorado.)
- If you have a case, your lawyer will gather evidence and contact witnesses and your medical providers.
- Negotiations begin between your lawyer and all parties involved in the claim when the extent of your injuries and medical treatment are fully understood. If the insurance company offers an amount that all parties agree on, the case is over.
- If there is no agreement during negotiations, your case may proceed to court.
In Colorado, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is two years from the date of injury. The exceptions to this include motor vehicle accidents, which have a maximum limit of three years. If filing a claim against the state of Colorado or a city government within the state, you have 182 days to file a formal complaint.
When gathering evidence, it’s important to know that a personal injury lawyer can help with collection. There are several types of evidence that are important when organizing your case.
Photo evidence. Fortunately, with the ubiquitous camera phone, it’s a simple task to take pictures and video on the scene. If you’re in a traffic collision, take pictures from several angles of the damage to your car, the other car involved in the collision, and the overall scene. Also, photograph any circumstances that may have contributed to the collision. Likewise, if you had an accident in a store, record the setup of the store and the condition of the store that caused your injury, for example, an unmarked lip/rise in walkway. If you fell due to a spill, take a picture of the wet spot and what caused the wet spot, for example, a broken soda bottle or a leaky roof.
Also, be sure to take photos of any injuries you sustained from the accident. This can be used to help establish the type of injuries sustained.
Physical evidence. This includes anything that may demonstrate how the accident or injury occurred. For example, a defective product or even your car in the case of a motor vehicle accident can serve as physical evidence.
Witnesses. Having a series of witnesses can help make a situation more compelling than you can alone. Sometimes in a stressful situation like an accident, or even afterward, memory can be fuzzy. You might even end up in a situation where a second party will lie to avoid blame. Having several other witnesses can help establish your case.
Documentation of Injuries. Keep any documentation that relates to injuries sustained. This can include medical or test results (X-rays, CAT scans, MRIs), prescriptions, or other medical bills, as well as your own photographs of your injuries and your recovery process
Accident Report. In cases of a traffic collision, call the police and make sure a traffic accident report is created. In cases of injury at work or in school situations, make sure that an accident report is filled out and that you keep a copy.
It can be tempting to take on a personal injury case on your own. If the evidence is strong and you feel confident in your knowledge, it can seem like a slam dunk. However, very few claimants get the appropriate compensation when filing on their own behalf.
Insurance companies exist to make a profit. They profit by paying out the least amount of money possible on claims. No matter how much a layperson might know about the system or how straightforward a case may seem, there is no substitute for a lawyer when it comes to getting proper compensation for your losses. They are professionals who know every twist, turn, and loophole in the system.
Being involved in an accident is one of the most traumatizing and painful experiences a person can experience. When someone is injured because of another party’s negligence, it adds frustration to the already strong mix of feelings and emotions.
If you’ve been injured and it could have been prevented, call the professionals at Keating Wagner. They understand the legal system and will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve.