Auto Accidents and Lapsed Insurance
LAPSED AUTO INSURANCE’S CONSEQUENCES
Like many other states, drivers in Colorado are required to have insurance and those who do not risk harsh fines. Allowing one’s car insurance to expire is effectively the same as having no insurance at all. Each policy has an expiry date, and the insurance expires if the policyholder does not pay the premium after receiving renewal letters from the company.
This results in a coverage gap until the policyholder makes payment and the policy is reinstated.
In this piece, we’ll go through Colorado’s insurance regulations and fines for uninsured drivers, as well as some tips for dealing with an uninsured motorist in a car accident, regardless of who caused it.
AUTO INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS IN COLORADO
Residents in Colorado who possess a car must present evidence of insurance when registering their car. The following are the necessary minimum requirements:
Medical costs coverage of $10,000 PIP – Also known as Colorado No-Fault Insurance, PIP protects you, your kid, members of your household, and passengers who do not own a car and do not have PIP insurance. Bicyclists and pedestrians who are wounded in a car collision are also covered under PIP.
Property Damage Liability of $10,000 PDL – Property Damage Liability (PDL) coverage covers property damage caused by you or family members in an car accident.
UNINSURED MOTORISTS FACE PENALTIES.
The Colorado Department of Highway Safety and Motor Cars FLHSMV may suspend your driver’s license and take away your license plates and registration for up to three years if you fail to maintain the mandatory car insurance. By presenting evidence of current Colorado insurance, you may avoid suspension. Depending on the conditions, reinstatement costs range from $150 to more than $500. FLHSMV has the jurisdiction to suspend a driver’s license and registration for up to 20 years if a Colorado court awards damages to an at-fault motorist. Driving without insurance on many occasions may result in prison time.
AUTO ACCIDENT LIABILITY IN COLORADO
Colorado is a no-fault insurance state, which means that in an car accident, each party must first submit a claim under their mandatory PIP coverage to recoup damages. When both drivers have the proper insurance, blame is only a factor when serious or
catastrophic injuries or wrongful death occur. When accidents result in catastrophic injuries, the sufferer may be entitled to sue the at-fault party for damages not covered by insurance.
When a car accident occurs, and one or more drivers do not have the insurance needed by Colorado law, the fault is a factor. Whether you or the other motorist let your insurance expire affects the course you pursue to collect damages from a car accident. Additional coverages that motorists may have may also be relevant, such as:
LIABILITY INSURANCE FOR BODILY INJURY When a driver causes a traffic collision with their car, BIL Bodily Injury Liability plans to pay damages for catastrophic injury or death. Insurance companies will cover injuries up to the policy limitations. Unless you have been convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, BIL coverage is not required in Colorado.
COVERAGE FOR UNINSURED AND UNDERINSURED MOTORISTS UM
Uninsured and underinsured motorist plans pay policyholders for losses and injuries caused by another driver who does not have bodily injury coverage or has inadequate limits on their BIL policy.
WHAT DO I DO NOW THAT I’VE BEEN IN A COLORADO CAR ACCIDENT?
With Colorado’s no-fault insurance regulations, many forms of supplementary coverage, and a motorist with expired car insurance, determining the best course of action after a traffic accident may be difficult. Your health and safety should take first. If you weren’t sent to the hospital by ambulance, you should seek medical attention as quickly as possible. Gather as much information as possible at the site of the collision, including the other driver’s name, license plate, address, and insurance information, if he or she has coverage, and make sure you file a police report. You should also snap images of any damage or injuries using your smartphone.
Keep in mind that safety is the most important factor. If confronting the other motorist seems to be risky, don’t do it. Instead, law enforcement or the police report might provide you with information about that motorist. Making monetary demands on an at-fault motorist at the site of an accident is particularly unwise. Allow your insurance company and attorney to take care of such matters.
Contact a respected personal injury attorney as soon as you have been cleared by a doctor and have reported the accident to local police authorities. They will assist you through the insurance claims process and advise you on whether or not to pursue a personal injury case. Until you meet with an attorney, the following recommendations will give you an idea of where to start.
STEPS TO TAKE AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT WHEN YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE HAS EXPIRED
You are driving without insurance if you have let your car insurance expire. This is not only prohibited in Colorado, but it might also cost you money if you strike another car with your car.
WHEN YOU WERE THE ONE WHO CAUSED THE CAR ACCIDENT
If you don’t have insurance and cause an accident, you’ll have to pay for any damage to your car out of pocket, and you’ll be responsible for any injuries you receive. The other driver will claim their PIP coverage, which covers 80% of medical expenses and 60% of lost income due to time off work due to injury or hospitalization. You will be liable for property damage to the other driver’s car as the at-fault driver, and you may also be liable for the other driver’s injury-related expenses if the other driver’s PIP insurance limitations have been reached.
If the other driver has uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, they may be able to use it to cover property damage and personal injury. But it doesn’t absolve you of responsibility. The other driver’s insurance company may file a subrogation claim against you.
Keep in mind that if the collision resulted in serious injury or wrongful death, Colorado law allows the other motorist to file a civil action for damages against you. You risk losing part or all of your possessions if you don’t have insurance in this circumstance. Furthermore, suppose a Colorado court issues a judgment against you. In that case, your license, tags, and registration will be suspended for 20 years or until the judgment is met, which may be enforced immediately.
WHEN THE OTHER DRIVER IS TO BLAME FOR THE ACCIDENT
Because Colorado is a no-fault state, if another motorist causes an accident while your insurance has expired, you will be responsible for your medical bills and missed income if you cannot work due to your injuries. The other driver’s insurance covers only your property damage. Even if you were not at fault, anticipate a penalty for driving without insurance from law authorities.
An experienced personal injury attorney might be able to assist you in filing a civil action against the other motorist if the other driver caused an accident that resulted in permanent or catastrophic damage. You may be eligible to obtain damages for medical treatment costs, lost earnings, future medical bills, future lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other damages if the court determines in your favor. You must file a lawsuit within three years of the date of your injuries under Colorado law, so don’t wait. As quickly as feasible, contact an attorney.
STEPS TO TAKE AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT WHEN THE INSURANCE OF THE OTHER DRIVER HAD EXPIRED
Even if you never let your car insurance expire, others do. Between 2013 and 2015, the Insurance Research Council estimates that between 15 and 26 percent of Colorado motorists were uninsured. Lapses might arise if a motorist was out of the state for an extended period or if the policyholder was experiencing financial difficulties. Regardless of why another motorist may not have insurance, if you are involved in an accident that results in property damage and injury, you may find it difficult to collect damages.
You must notify the other driver to Colorado’s Bureau of Motorist Compliance in Tallahassee if you discover that he or she is uninsured. You should ask the Bureau to investigate the accident.
WHEN YOU WERE THE ONE WHO CAUSED THE CAR ACCIDENT
If you cause a car accident and the other driver does not have insurance, a variety of things might happen depending on your insurance coverage. If you have bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance, the other motorist may claim with your insurance provider, asking for damages up to your policy maximum. Colorado law allows the other motorist to bring a personal injury lawsuit for damages over your BIL policy limits in a serious injury or tragic death. If you don’t have BIL coverage, you risk having to pay the other motorist for all damages if the court finds it against you. If you have any damages or injuries, you must claim your PIP coverage as soon as possible after the accident to collect any out-of-pocket medical bills or lost income.
WHEN THE OTHER DRIVER IS TO BLAME FOR THE ACCIDENT
If another motorist strikes you, the first thing you should do is submit a claim under your PIP coverage to recuperate as much money as possible. You may potentially recover damages up to your policy maximum if you have obtained underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.
You may file a personal injury lawsuit against the other motorist if your injury-related damages exceed your insurance policy limitations. Remember that unless the motorist who strikes you has money, you won’t be able to recover damages right away if the court finds it in your favor. You may need the services of a knowledgeable attorney to guarantee that you get the compensation that you are entitled to.
COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE IN AUTO ACCIDENT CASES IN COLORADO
The preceding examples were given as though all accidents are black and white—that is, an accident is entirely the fault of one individual, and insurance companies always pay claims. In truth, there are many shades of grey in car accident instances. Insurance companies don’t remain in business by paying out every claim that comes in, particularly when the claim is submitted by a motorist who isn’t one of their customers. They have the right to dismiss claims based on technicalities and other questionable grounds. To escape accountability, other drivers and their carriers, if they have insurance, often attempt to transfer blame to the victim. The state of Colorado’s comparative negligence regulations incentivizes this action even more.
Shared culpability is the concept of comparative carelessness. Suppose a court determines in favor of the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. In that case, the damages must be reduced to the degree of the plaintiff’s responsibility in creating the accident, according to Colorado law. Consider the case of an uninsured driver who crashes your car while driving while intoxicated. Even though the drunk driver’s responsibility is evident, the court may deem you 20% at blame for the accident since you were speeding at the time of the collision. As a result, if you sue the driver for $1,000,000, the court will cut your damages by 20% to
IN COLORADO SPRINGS, YOU NEED TO HIRE A SEASONED CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER
In Colorado, car accidents involving uninsured drivers result in complicated insurance claims and litigation. If you were injured in a car accident and either you or the other driver let your car insurance expire, you need to hire an experienced car accident attorney to handle your claim.
Jeremy D. Earle, JD, and the Warrior Car Accident Lawyers team understand how to deal with insurance companies and can represent you in court so that you have the greatest chance of a favorable decision.
To learn more, call Warrior Car Accident Lawyers in Colorado Springs at 719-300-1100 to book a free consultation with one of our attorneys.