How Your Auto Accident History Could Impact a Current Auto Accident Claim
Being involved in a car accident can be a painful, stress-inducing and confusing experience.
Still, crashes can and do happen. Many drivers, especially those who routinely spend significant time behind the wheel, will be involved in multiple accidents over their lifetimes.
A driver’s accident history can come into play if he or she is later involved in another crash and files a claim for insurance coverage, whether it is with the person’s insurer or the insurer for another driver at fault in the crash. A Denver auto accident attorney at Levine Law can help you understand how your accident history may impact your claim.
Understanding Your Driving Record
Drivers in Colorado are required by law to report certain accidents. Police officers also often arrive at the scene after a crash and typically create an accident report.
Any car accident in which police respond to the scene or which is later reported to police becomes part of the driving records for the drivers involved in the crash. This is true even if you were not at fault in the crash.
Official driving records are maintained by the motor vehicles department in the state where the accident happened. Car insurance companies scour these records to ensure that they have the latest information. They typically increase the cost of coverage for drivers who are involved in an accident or convicted of a traffic violation. Premiums can go up by one-third or even more in situations in which the policyholder has been deemed at fault in a collision.
Insurers also keep records of how many times a policyholder files a claim for benefits related to a crash. They may seek to increase premiums simply based on the number of claims that you file within a certain time period, even if you have not been found at fault regarding any of those claims.
Separately, the Colorado DMV assigns drivers assigned “points” on their records when they get traffic tickets. That includes offenses that cause car accidents. The more severe the offense, the more points incurred. Drivers may have their licenses suspended or revoked if they reach certain point totals, depending on the circumstances.
Insurers Will Try to Use Your Driving Record Against You
People who are injured in car accidents in Colorado have the right to seek compensation from those responsible, often negligent drivers. If the driver is insured, that compensation is typically covered by his or her insurance policy.
It is important to understand, however, that insurance companies are not your friend.
Contrary to popular belief, insurers are not simply in the business of paying out claims when accidents happen involving policyholders. Instead, they are for-profit corporations whose allegiances are to shareholders and board members.
Insurers often fight even valid car accident claims. They seek to reduce the amount of the claim to pennies on the dollar or completely avoid paying the claim.
That includes trying to use people’s driving records against them.
Using Driving Records to Prove Fault
Insurers often dig up old driving records to try to prove that the person who filed the claim was actually at fault in the crash. Or, at least partially to blame for the collision.
Colorado’s comparative negligence system reduces compensation based on proportionate fault in auto accident cases. A person who is found to be more than 50% responsible for the crash is barred from seeking compensation at all.
Large insurance companies employ vast rosters of investigators to dig up records of driving infractions and accidents. They also scour for evidence related to a new crash to try to paint the picture that the person filing the claim was at fault. Insurers often use this information to push lowball settlements shortly after an accident happens, urging injured people to resolve claims for pennies on the dollar and without seeking the advice of a seasoned car accident lawyer.
Using Driving Records to Prove Pre-existing Conditions
Insurers also often turn to driving records to try to argue that certain injuries were caused by a previous crash, not the accident that is the subject of the claim. In other words, to argue that the injuries are not compensable as part of the current claim.
The truth, however, is that pre-existing injuries are often made much worse by later accidents. The worsening of the injuries is a valid part of a car accident claim.
At Levine Law, our Denver auto accident attorneys have significant experience fighting insurers on pre-existing injury defenses. We know how to conclusively establish that certain injuries were caused by a particular crash and have had success detailing how an accident made other pre-existing injuries worse.
Bad Faith Claims Against Insurers in Colorado
The good news is that you can fight back against insurers who slowplay to try to avoid paying valid claims.
Colorado law requires insurers to act in good faith by dealing fairly with policyholders. That means reviewing claims and investigating accidents rather than simply denying claims or making lowball offers.
An insurer who does not live up to this responsibility is likely to be liable for the harm caused and forced to pay the original claim, in addition to any new injuries.
Speak with a Denver Auto Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Colorado, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced accident lawyer.
At Levine Law, we can help you take on insurance companies and ensure that they treat you properly. Our Denver auto accident attorneys have a strong track record of success in the courtroom and through negotiated settlements.
Our lawyers are pleased to serve clients throughout Colorado, including in Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins and Loveland. Call us at 303-333-8000 or contact us online to speak with a Denver auto accident attorney.