I Was Injured. Can I File A Lawsuit Against The Party That Caused My Injury?

In general, when a person is injured as a result of another person's negligence, the injured party may pursue a claim against the party or parties that caused the injuries. You are entitled to compensation for your injuries if it is found that a defendant was negligent and that such negligence was a cause of your injury. Any personal injury case depends on liability, damages, and whether or not you can collect from the negligent party or parties. Even if you were partially at fault for your injuries, you may be entitled to recover a portion of your damages. In Colorado, a claimant's contributory negligence will not bar recovery if such negligence was not as great as the negligence of the person against whom recovery is sought. The claimant's recovery will be reduced in proportion to his degree of fault.

Personal injury law attempts to cover all areas and types of injuries suffered by individuals. Some of the most common areas are automobile accidents, premises liability, medical malpractice, and product liability, among others. Whether or not you are entitled to compensation may depend on the type of accident that caused the injury.

AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS

In Colorado, the law used to provide for mandatory no­fault automobile liability insurance coverage, also referred to as Personal Injury Protection (PIP), for all owners of motor vehicles in Colorado. As of July 1, 2003, Colorado converted to a tort system.  PIP paid for a person's injuries sustained in an accident regardless of who was at fault.  Because of the change, most insurance companies raised their premiums on two other coverages contained in their policies, bodily injury (BI) and uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM). 

Under the new system, if you injury someone in an automobile accident, his or her medical bills most likely will be paid by your BI coverage, once the entire claim is settled.  It is very important that you choose the correct level of coverage based on your personal financial situation.  An injured person can still sue you for the cost of medical treatment, pain and suffering, and actual damages. 

Most insurance companies offer "Med­Pay" benefits.  If you are injured in an automobile accident, and have purchased Med­Pay, your insurance company will pay for your medical treatment.  If you do not have medical insurance or you medical insurance will not cover treatments such as chiropractic, massage therapy, physical therapy and acupuncture, you may wish to consider purchasing Med­Pay. 

If you are in an automobile accident with an uninsured driver who is at fault, the uninsured motorist provisions of your own policy will apply, if you purchased such coverage. This coverage would also apply if you were hit by a "hit and run" driver. This insurance acts just like the insurance the uninsured driver should have had. Underinsured motorist coverage picks up where the liability coverage of the other driver leaves off. If your personal injuries exceed the amount of the other driver's liability insurance, your underinsured motorist insurance covers the excess damages under current law.

Generally, people who operate motor vehicles must exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. Failure to use reasonable care is the basis for most lawsuits for damages caused by an automobile accident. In these cases, proof of fault is often contested and requires thorough investigation. A driver may also be liable for an accident caused by intentional or reckless conduct. A reckless driver is one who drives unsafely, with willful disregard for the probability that the driving may cause an accident. Liability claims are usually the subject of negotiation between your lawyer and the liability insurer for the negligent party. Lawsuits are generally filed when negotiations fail. If you file a lawsuit against a negligent driver, your attorney will need to prove that the other party was negligent and that the other party's negligence caused injuries that resulted in compensable damages. Be careful when dealing with the other party's insurance company because they may try to rush you into a settlement before you can adequately evaluate the extent of your damages.

PREMISES LIABILITY

If you were injured at someone else's home or a commercial establishment, the person or entity responsible for the premises may be found liable. This can cover a variety of situations including slip and falls, dog bites, assaults, among others. The person liable for your damages is the party in control of the property. That party is responsible for the care, maintenance and inspection of the property. For example, an owner may not be the responsible party if he or she has leased the property to another party who actually has control over the premises.

The responsible party must pay for damages if the injured party proves that (1) the condition of the property was dangerous; (2) the owner knew, or should have known, about the dangerous condition; and (3) the owner had a reasonable opportunity to correct or warn of the condition, which was not reasonably open and obvious to the injured party at the time of the accident. In general, it is the duty of an owner to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of the premises. He must warn a visitor of any dangerous conditions that are known, or should be known to him, if the conditions are not likely to be perceived by the visitor and to repair the conditions within a reasonable time frame.

The owner or operator of the property must have notice of the defect or circumstances that caused your injury prior to the injury having occurred. The notice can either be actual notice or implied notice, meaning the owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition given all of the surrounding facts and circumstances. When the owner actually created the dangerous condition, then notice is presumed. If a hazard cannot be eliminated, the owner has a duty to warn of the hazards he is aware of or should be aware of.

The duty of a possessor of land to the injured person varies depending on the status of the person at the time of the injury. A licensee is a person who enters the land of another for the licensee's own interests, pursuant to the landowner's permission. This would include a social guest. A licensee may recover for damages caused by the landowner's unreasonable failure to exercise reasonable care with respect to dangers created by the landowner of which the landowner actually knew; or by the landowner's unreasonable failure to warn of dangers not created by the landowner.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

Additional Personal Injury Articles

Search LawInfo's Personal Injury Resources

Lead Counsel Rated Law Firm

Click Here to Learn More