Denver Uninsured Motorist Attorney
Uninsured Motorist & Hit & Run Accidents in Colorado
Although the state of Colorado requires every owner of any type of vehicle to have bodily injury liability insurance in case of an accident, not every vehicle owner complies with the law. Statistics in Colorado indicate that approximately 15 percent of motor vehicles involved in accidents in the state do not have the required liability insurance. If you are the victim in an automobile accident, there is a 15 percent chance that the person who caused the accident is uninsured, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.
If you were involved in a hit and run accident or were hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, turn to the Denver uninsured motorist lawyers at Larson Larimer Schneider, P.C. With over 100 years of collective legal experience, we know how to navigate the law on your behalf and look for alternative sources of compensation. Continue reading to learn more about uninsured motorist coverage in Colorado, or reach out to us directly to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.
When Bodily Injury (BI) Coverage Isn’t Enough
Even if the owner or driver of a vehicle does have some liability insurance, the state of Colorado only mandates a minimum of $25,000.00 in bodily injury liability coverage. This liability insurance is referred to as Bodily Injury coverage or BI coverage on many policies. If you are injured in an accident that was caused by another driver, it is the other driver’s BI coverage that provides compensation to you for your injuries.
With the price of medical treatment these days, it does not take long to exceed $25,000.00 in medical bills from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. The cost of a visit to the emergency room following an accident can easily reach $10,000.00, not including the paramedic’s bill for transporting you to the hospital.
Who pays your bills if the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance?
You likely purchased Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage when you purchased your own automobile insurance coverage. Colorado requires your insurance provider to include this coverage in your policy unless you specifically decline the coverage in writing.
What Does UM & UIM Cover?
Your UM coverage provides coverage for your losses, medical bills, and injuries when the driver of the vehicle that caused the action has no insurance. Your UIM coverage provides coverage for your losses, medical bills, and injuries when the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident does not have enough insurance coverage or is underinsured. If you own and insure more than one vehicle, depending on when your policies were issued, you may have UM/UIM coverage under multiple policies that can be combined (stacked) for additional coverage.
Changes to Colorado Insurance Law: Consumers Receive the Coverage They Pay for when Injured by Uninsured Drivers
C.R.S. 10-4-609 addresses UM/UIM claims and makes it possible for consumers to receive the full coverage they believed they were purchasing when buying their UM/UIM coverage in the state of Colorado. All UM/UIM policies issued or renewed in Colorado on or after January 1, 2008 are subject to the newly revised statute.
Please take note of the two most important changes to the law:
1. “Offsetting” Is No Longer Permitted
Before January 1, 2008, your own insurance company was allowed to reduce (“setoff”) the UM coverage they would have to pay you by the amount of liability insurance available under the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Here’s an example of how this works: John was driving home from work and was hit by Matt, who had been out all night drinking with his buddies. Matt’s blood alcohol level was above the legal limit and he was cited for driving under the influence. John was severely injured, unable to work during his recovery, and had medical expenses and lost wages totaling $150,000. Matt had insurance, but his bodily injury liability policy limit was only $50,000. John had purchased $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage on his own policy.
Before January 1, 2008: after Matt’s insurance company paid John Matt’s policy limits in the amount of $50,000, John’s insurance company would then have been able to deduct, or “setoff,” the $50,000 payment from John’s UM/UIM coverage, leaving John with only an additional $50,000 in coverage. His total compensation would have been $100,000. John would have been left to pay the remaining $50,000 out of his own pocket.
After January 1, 2008: Matt’s insurance company paid John Matt’s policy limits in the amount of $50,000. John’s insurance company is now legally obligated to pay the total of John’s UM/UIM policy limits of $100,000. John’s total compensation under the new law would be $150,000, which would cover all of his medical expenses and lost wages.
2. “Anti-Stacking” Clauses Are No Longer Acceptable
Before January 1, 2008, insurance companies could include “anti-stacking” clauses in their UM policies, which kept those who purchased multiple policies on multiple cars within the same household from obtaining UM coverage on each separate policy to maximize potential coverage.
Now, an additional change in the law prevents insurance companies from using “anti-stacking” language when writing insurance policies. Before the new law became effective, insurance providers were able to collect premiums for UM/UIM coverage on multiple policies covering multiple vehicles in the same household. However, the insurance companies would not allow policy holders to simultaneously use these multiple coverages. Since the new law became effective on January 1, 2008, however, policy holders have been able to combine (“stack”) UM/UIM policies.
Colorado Uninsured Motorist Law in a Nutshell
Before January 1, 2008:
- Insurance companies were allowed to set-off the amount paid under the at-fault party’s BI liability insurance against the insured’s UM/UIM liability coverage.
- Insurance companies could include “anti-stacking” clauses in their policies.
After January 1, 2008: (Applies to policies issued or renewed in CO on/before this date):
- Insurance companies are not allowed to set-off the amount paid under the at-fault party’s BI liability insurance against the insured’s UM/UIM liability coverage, allowing for potentially higher recoveries.
- Insurance companies cannot include “anti-stacking” clauses in their policies. If your insurance agent informs you that you may be able to save money by dropping additional premiums for your multiple vehicles, know that you may also limit your coverage and your insurance company’s UM/UIM liability in the event that you are involved in an accident.
Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation
If you have been injured as result of the actions of a driver that did not have insurance or did not have enough insurance, contact a trusted personal injury lawyer at Larson Larimer Schneider, P.C. as soon as possible. Our Denver uninsured motorist attorneys are experienced in fighting to protect the rights of those injured in motor vehicle accidents, including the right to be compensated by your own insurance company when the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured.
Although your own insurance company has certain obligations and duties to you as their insured, they will still attempt to minimize your compensation. We can fight to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to.