After a Colorado car accident, getting your car repair bills paid is a crucial part of protecting your rights.
Victims of a car accident can seek payment from:
- the other driver’s collision auto insurance carrier;
- the victim’s own uninsured/under-insured motorist policy or collision coverage; or
- the other driver personally.
Compensation Owed After an Auto Accident
When another driver causes an accident, he or she is responsible to pay the damages caused, including:
- medical bills;
- vehicle repair costs (or replacement value);
- rental costs for a temporary vehicle while victim’s car is repaired;
- lost wages;
- lost earning capacity;
- pain and suffering damages;
- wrongful death damages (if a death occurred); and
- punitive damages (in limited circumstances).
Proving Vehicle Damage
To prove damage that occurred to your vehicle due to another’s negligence, a driver can:
- take photos at the scene of the accident;
- take down the other driver’s insurance information;
- call the police to file a report;
- take notes about what happened as soon after the accident as reasonably possible; and
- get names and information of witnesses.
Getting it Repaired
Getting your vehicle repaired after an accident is a major priority. The responsible party should bear the cost of the repairs, and he or she may do so individually or through an insurance company.
Sometimes, a dispute arises, and a person simply cannot wait to get his or her car repaired. If this is the case, the victim should:
- keep all receipts, invoices, and bills for repairs;
- keep records of lost time at work due to being without a vehicle;
- calculate all rental car costs; and
- keep records of any other costs caused by the inability to use the vehicle.
Below, our Colorado personal injury attorneys address frequently asked questions about getting car repair bills paid after a Colorado auto accident in personal injury lawsuits and the injuries you may have suffered:
- 1. What types of compensation am I owed after a car accident in Colorado?
- 2. How do I prove the damages I suffered after a Colorado auto accident?
- 3. Who pays for car repairs after a Colorado motor vehicle accident?
- 3.1 What if the other driver has insurance coverage?
- 3.2 What if the other driver is not insured, or the coverage is not enough to cover my damages?
- 4. How do I submit for payment to an insurance company?
- 5. What if my car is totaled?
1. What types of compensation am I owed after a car accident in Colorado?
When another driver causes an accident, he or she is responsible to pay the damages caused, including those listed above.
Depending on the individual situation, other types of damages may be awarded as well. An experienced Colorado personal injury attorney will fight for every penny you are owed.
No matter the case, a person injured in a car accident deserves to have the harm he or she suffered compensated financially.
2. How do I prove the damages I suffered after a Colorado auto accident?
When another driver causes damage to a vehicle, a driver should do the following:
- take multiple photos at the place the accident occurred;
- document the other driver’s automobile insurance documentation;
- inform the police of the accident so that they will generate a police report;
- collect your thoughts in the form of notes immediately following the accident, or as soon after as possible; and
- gather names and any other information of witnesses at the scene.
When taking notes, victims should also take down information such as:
- at what time the accident occurred;
- the direction and lanes in which the vehicles were traveling;
- any traffic offenses;
- the speed of each vehicle;
- weather and traffic conditions;
- what the other driver was doing at the time of the accident (i.e. texting, talking on phone, moving, stopped, etc.); and
- any other helpful information.
The more notes a victim takes at the scene the better able the attorney is to present and prove the case to ensure the maximum amount of compensation possible is awarded.
3. Who pays for car repairs after a Colorado motor vehicle accident?
Depending on the specific situation, there are multiple avenues that can help pay for car repairs after an accident.
3.1 What if the other driver has insurance coverage?
Colorado law requires drivers to have collision coverage if they are driving within the state.1 Therefore, drivers should have this insurance and be covered to be able to pay for any damages they cause.
Colorado drivers are expected to carry insurance at the following minimums:
- Bodily Injury: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.
- Property Damage: $15,000 per incident.2
If the other driver is covered, his or her insurance company should pay for the cost of repairs to the victim’s vehicle. However, the insurer will only be held responsible for up to the maximum amount of coverage the other driver paid for (i.e., up to $15,000 in property damage if the other driver carries the minimum required coverage).
3.2 What if the other driver is not insured, or the coverage is not enough to cover my damages?
If the other driver does not have insurance or does not have enough coverage to pay for the victim’s entire damages, there are other options.
Many drivers carry uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage. This optional coverage is purchased as part of a driver’s own automobile insurance package and is intended to:
- make sure a person is covered
- in case in an accident
- with an uninsured or under-insured driver.
Another option is to go after the other driver directly. This involves filing a lawsuit against the other driver and seeking payment and compensation from that person’s own assets, not through an insurance company.
4. How do I submit for payment to an insurance company?
Most insurance companies have an approved list of repair shops they work with. When the victim agrees to have his or her car repaired at one of these approved shops, the shop submits an estimate and the company will usually agree to pay it.
When instead, the victim prefers to use a shop not on the approved list, there is typically a negotiation process to ensure that the insurance company will pay the estimate. This can be more problematic if unexpected problems are discovered, and the total costs exceed the estimate.
5. What if my car is totaled?
Colorado does not have a definitive definition of when a car is totaled, but typically most insurance companies do not want to put more money in repairs into a car than its actual cash value.
If the vehicle is so damaged that repair costs would exceed its cash value, the insurer will likely:
- offer to pay the car’s fair market value (up to insurance coverage limits); or
- offer a reasonable replacement vehicle (less common).
Sometimes, this process takes some negotiation as insurers notoriously underestimate the value of a car in an attempt to save money.
With the help of an experienced attorney by your side, you can be protected from these attempts to short-change you.
Call us for help…
For questions about getting car repair bills paid after a Colorado car accident or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled Colorado criminal defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us. For cases in California or Nevada, please see our articles on car repair bills after a California auto accident and getting compensation for car repair bills after a Nevada car accident.
We represent clients in and around Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, and several nearby cities.
- CRS 10-4-619 (Coverage Compulsory) (Every owner of a motor vehicle who operates the motor vehicle on the public highways of this state or who knowingly permits the operation of the motor vehicle on the public highways of this state shall have in full force and effect a complying policy under the terms of this part 6 covering the said motor vehicle, and any owner who fails to do so shall be subject to the sanctions provided under sections 42-4-1409 and 42-7-301, C.R.S., of the “Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act”.)
- CRS 10-4-620 (Required Coverage). But see CRS 10-4-624 (Self-insurers).