Bodily injury liability car insurance is insurance that covers injuries that other people suffer if you hurt them in a car accident. Bodily injury liability insurance covers their medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and other losses they suffered. It is a crucial piece of the insurance puzzle in Colorado. Because it is a type of liability insurance, is it technically a type of third-party insurance.
State laws require you to have at least a certain amount of bodily injury liability insurance. In Colorado, the minimum bodily injury liability insurance is:
- $25,000 per person, and
- $50,000 per accident.
This is also known as “25/50” bodily injury insurance. If you do not have at least this much insurance, you will get pulled over and ticketed. Your car will likely be impounded. Your drivers' license could even be suspended.
If your liability insurance coverage is not enough to cover the other person's injuries, you could be held personally liable. This makes it wise to have more than the minimum required by Colorado law.
In this article, our Colorado personal injury lawyers explain:
- 1. What is bodily injury liability car insurance?
- 1.1. What does bodily injury liability car insurance cover?
- 1.2. What is not covered by bodily injury liability insurance?
- 2. How does bodily injury liability insurance fit into the big picture?
- 3. Do I have to carry bodily injury liability car insurance in Colorado?
- 4. What would happen if I do not have bodily injury liability insurance?
- 4.1. You could get ticketed for not having insurance
- 4.2. You can be held personally liable for the costs of a crash that you cause
- 5. What if I do not have enough liability insurance to cover someone's injuries?
- 6. What if I was only partially at fault for the crash?
1. What is bodily injury liability car insurance?
Bodily injury liability car insurance covers bodily injuries that you cause in a car accident.
Even though you pay for bodily injury liability insurance, the coverage it provides pays other people. However, liability insurance acts as a shield for you. With bodily injury coverage, the people you accidentally hurt on the road recover compensation from your insurance company. Without bodily injury coverage, those people sue you for compensation, instead.
1.1. What does bodily injury liability car insurance cover?
Liability car insurance covers bodily injuries that you cause in a crash. This includes the financial toll of recovering from those physical injuries. It covers things like:
- Emergency room charges,
- Ambulance costs,
- Doctor's bills,
- Hospital bills,
- Physical therapy,
- Long-term care,
- Prosthetics, in the case of an amputation,
- Dental expenses if the victim loses teeth or needs oral surgery,
- Funeral expenses,
- Wages lost while the victim recovers from the crash, and
- Reduced earning capacity from any debilitation caused by the crash.
Bodily injury liability car insurance covers these costs up to the policy limit.
1.2. What is not covered by bodily injury liability insurance?
Liability car insurance does not cover all of the losses someone else sustains in a crash that you caused. The following losses and expenses are not covered by bodily injury liability insurance:
- Expenses in excess of your policy limit,
- Damage to property, like fences, mailboxes, bicycles, or buildings,
- Costs of repairing or replacing the victim's vehicle,
- Any injuries you suffer in the crash,
- Property damage you sustain, or
- Injuries suffered by passengers in your vehicle.
These losses have to be compensated from other forms of insurance, like:
- Medical insurance,
- Med pay coverage in Colorado,
- The other driver's bodily injury liability car insurance policy, and
- Your comprehensive or collision insurance policy.
2. How does bodily injury liability insurance fit into the big picture?
There are 2 main pieces in the car insurance puzzle:
- First-party insurance, which covers the losses the policyholder suffers, and
- Third-party insurance, which covers losses the policyholder causes.
Third-party insurance is also known as liability insurance. It includes bodily injury coverage, which covers the costs of physical injuries caused by the policyholder.
3. Do I have to carry bodily injury liability car insurance in Colorado?
Yes, you are legally required to carry bodily injury liability car insurance in Colorado.1
In Colorado, your liability insurance has to provide at least this amount of coverage:
- $25,000 in bodily injury coverage per person,
- $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident, and
- $15,000 in property damage coverage per accident.2
This is known as 25/50/15 liability insurance.
The law requires you to have this liability insurance in order to protect others on the road. In theory, by requiring everyone to have liability insurance, every accident that happens will have a source of compensation.
4. What would happen if I do not have bodily injury liability insurance?
If you do not have enough bodily injury liability car insurance, 2 things can happen:
- You can get a ticket and face other driving ramifications, and
- You can be held personally liable for the costs of a crash you cause.
4.1. You could get ticketed for not having insurance
If you do not have the minimum liability insurance that Colorado requires, police can pull you over. If you cannot prove that you have liability insurance, the repercussions are serious:
- You will be fined at least $500 for a first offense, or $1,000 for a subsequent offense,
- Your driver's license will be suspended until you can prove you have insurance,
- 4 points will be added to your driver's license, potentially leading to a license suspension, and
- Your car will likely be impounded.
4.2. You can be held personally liable for the costs of a crash that you cause
If you do not have liability insurance and you cause an accident, you can be held personally liable for the victim's losses. This means the victim can sue you for compensation. Without liability insurance, you will not be shielded from paying the costs out of your own pocket. You would have to compensate the victim with money in your bank account or your assets. If the accident was a serious one, you could have to sell your house.
These situations are rare
5. What if I do not have enough liability insurance to cover someone's injuries?
If your bodily injury liability car insurance runs out before the victim is fully compensated, you could be held personally liable for whatever remains.
If the victim has uninsured or underinsured coverage, their policy will cover whatever you cannot pay for.
Example: Nikki has the Colorado minimum liability insurance of 25/50/15. She causes a car accident. Joe gets hurt and suffers $100,000 in injuries. Nikki's insurance will cover the first $25,000. Nikki will have to pay for the remaining $75,000. However, she can only pay $25,000. If Joe has underinsured motorist coverage, Joe's insurance will pay the last $50,000.
This is why it is often wise to have as much bodily injury liability car insurance as is feasible. More insurance coverage makes being held personally liable very unlikely.
6. What if I was only partially at fault for the crash?
If you were only partially at fault for the crash, you will only have to pay your share of the costs. This is Colorado's comparative negligence law. It is codified at CRS 13-21-111.
Under Colorado's comparative negligence law, if the victim contributed to the accident, their compensation gets reduced. The amount of this reduction is equal to how much fault they brought to the accident.
However, if the victim was more than half at fault for the crash, they can recover nothing.
It is up to the jury in a personal injury case to say who was responsible for the crash.
Example: Joe suffered $100,000 in his crash with Nikki. The jury decides Joe was 25% to blame. Colorado's comparative negligence law only allows Joe to recover $75,000 in compensation.
Example: The jury finds Joe was 60% at fault for the crash. Joe cannot recover any compensation.
Comparative negligence can reduce the victim's compensation. This can lower the amount your bodily injury liability car insurance coverage has to pay. It can mean you are not held personally liable for the accident.
Call us for help…
The bodily injury liability car insurance coverage you have will play a huge role in a car accident case. If you were found at least partially responsible, your coverage will pay for the costs. If your insurance coverage runs out, you could be paying out of your own pocket.
If you are being blamed for a car accident in Colorado, hiring a lawyer can be important. Contact our Colorado personal injury lawyers for help. For cases in California or Nevada, please see our pages on bodily injury liability insurance in California and bodily injury liability insurance in Nevada.
C.R.S. § 42-7-413.
C.R.S. § 42-7-103(2).