Colorado Car Accident Law: What Is A Fault-Based System?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 19, 2020

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It’s been over three years since Colorado changed from a no-fault system to a fault-based system when dealing with car accidents. However, many people still don’t fully understand the concept and how it might affect them. This led us to ask one prominent Colorado car accident attorney — What is a fault based system?

Colorado Attorney Jim Chalat

Jim Chalat, a Colorado attorney with over 30 years of experience whose firm focuses its practice in personal injury law, explained how car accident cases are handled in Colorado:

Colorado is now a fault-based system. That means that the at-fault driver, or the at-fault driver’s insurance, is responsible for all of the damages the victim sustains. That includes medical bills and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, permanent impairment and permanent disfigurement.

Colorado used to be a no-fault system and there are many states that still are, which means that your own insurance company is the primary provider, or care provider, for medical bills, rehabilitation expenses and for other routine expenses which are incurred in an auto accident. Colorado changed to a fault-based system more than three years ago. All of the cases that we currently see come into our office are handled on this new system of fault-based damages reparation.

Did the change make Colorado’s process easier?

Having practiced this type of law for so many years and seeing both systems in place, we asked Chalat how the change from a no-fault to a fault system has affected the process overall. Here’s what he told us:

In my judgment, it’s made it more complicated. Essentially, what the automobile liability and no-fault insurance carriers did was shift the burden for the medical care to the victim’s health insurance company. So, instead of having Allstate, State Farm, Met Life or Farmers — those are the four largest carriers in Colorado — provide for the automobile accident victim’s medical care and rehabilitation expenses not withstanding fault, that burden has shifted now to the health insurance systems such as Kaiser, United Health, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, or in the case of many people, Medicaid or Medicare.

Chalat says that this makes it much more complicated and makes it important that people have legal advice in connection with their car accident cases — especially those involving significant or catastrophic injuries and damages.

If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident, contact an experienced Colorado car accident attorney to discuss your situation and evaluate your options. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.

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