How Is Fault Determined in a Car Accident?

Posted On March 13, 2024 / By Manning Law / Car Accidents

Car accidents are one of the most common causes of injury and death in Colorado and throughout the United States. If you get involved in a car crash in Denver, you need to understand the state’s fault laws to protect your legal rights during the insurance claim or financial recovery process.

Colorado Is a Fault State, Not a No-Fault State 

There are two main types of insurance systems in the U.S.: fault and no-fault. All but 12 states, including Colorado, use a fault-based or tort-based law. Under this system, the person or party at fault for causing a motor vehicle accident is financially responsible for the victim’s related medical bills and property damage. 

In a no-fault state, on the other hand, all injured parties seek coverage from their own insurance providers, regardless of fault. All drivers in Colorado are required to maintain certain amounts of automobile insurance as proof of the ability to cover the costs of an at-fault accident. The requirements are a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury coverage, plus $15,000 in property damage liability insurance. 

When a car accident occurs in Colorado, the parties involved must determine who is at fault. Injured accident victims will then file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance provider. While fault-based insurance systems generally allow for a greater financial recovery than no-fault systems, the trade-off is that a victim must prove fault to qualify for coverage from another driver’s insurance provider.

Proving Fault in a Car Accident Case 

The majority of car accident claims in Colorado are based on the legal doctrine of negligence, or the failure to exercise ordinary care. Working with a Denver personal injury attorney, to prove that someone is at fault for your car accident, you need clear and convincing evidence that he or she was negligent and that this caused the crash.

Negligence contains four elements:

  1. The accused party or defendant owed you a duty of care, meaning a legal responsibility to act in a reasonable and prudent manner.
  2. The defendant breached his or her duty of care, such as by driving drunk, speeding or texting while driving.
  3. The defendant’s breach of duty was the actual or proximate cause of your car accident, meaning the crash most likely would not have happened were it not for the defendant’s negligence.
  4. You suffered compensable losses or damages because of the car accident, such as bodily injuries, medical bills or property damage.

Negligence or fault in a car accident claim must be proven based on a preponderance of the evidence, or enough proof to show that the defendant is more likely than not to be responsible for the collision.

Shared Fault for a Car Accident in Colorado

In Colorado, a doctrine known as comparative negligence permits a car accident victim to recover financial compensation from another driver even if he or she is found to be partially at fault for the crash. Under this law, the victim’s amount of financial compensation will be reduced by a percentage equivalent to his or her degree of fault. 

For example, if you are allocated 10 percent of the fault for speeding but another driver is allocated 90 percent for running a red light, a settlement valued at $100,000 from the other driver’s insurance company would be reduced by your 10 percent of fault to a final settlement of $90,000.

Discuss Your Car Accident Case With an Attorney

If you or a loved one was recently injured in a motor vehicle accident in Colorado, contact Manning Law to request a free case evaluation with our Denver car accident lawyer. We can investigate your crash, determine fault, help you prove your case and pursue maximum financial compensation on your behalf.