Is Colorado a Fault Car Accident State?


In the United States, we have fault car accident states and no-fault car accident states, but which model does Colorado follow? Today, Colorado follows the “fault-based” model when it comes to financial liability in a car accident case. What does this mean exactly? Under the fault-based system, when a driver causes a car accident, he or she is by law, financially liable for the damages they caused.

For example, if “John” ran a red light and T-boned “Robert,” who had the right of way, John would be financially liable for the crash since he was in the wrong. This means that Robert, who is the plaintiff (injured party), could pursue compensation from John for his medical bills, damage to his vehicle, lost income, and other financial losses (damages).

Colorado is a Fault Car Accident State

Since Colorado follows the fault-based system, the at-fault drivers in car accidents are responsible for the accidents they cause. From the injuries to the medical bills to the property damage to the lost income and pain and suffering and everything in between.

Usually, car accident claims are filed with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance carrier, but if the at-fault driver has insufficient coverage to pay for the accident, the plaintiff can sue the driver directly for the uncovered losses. This means the liable party’s assets can be at risk.

Three ways injured parties can file an accident claim in Colorado:

  1. The plaintiff files a claim with their own auto insurance company; however, the insurance company, in turn, files a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
  2. The plaintiff files what’s called a “third party claim” directly with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company.
  3. The plaintiff files a personal injury claim directly against the at-fault driver.

Colorado wasn’t always a fault-based insurance state; it only became a fault-based insurance state in 2003. Under Colorado’s old “no-fault” laws, plaintiffs would turn to their own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage to pay their medical bills and out-of-pocket losses, even though they were not responsible for the crash. Only if the injuries were serious could the injured parties file a claim against the at-fault driver.

Next: Economic vs. No-Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Case

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