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2009 Changes to Auto Accident Laws: What the Lawyer You Hire Better Know

Posted by: Chad Hemmat | Monday, January 26, 2009 | 0 Comments | Back to Personal Injury Blog

Representing victims injured in automobile accidents in Colorado requires staying up-to-date in an area of law that is constantly changing.

For example, effective January 1, 2009, all new and renewed auto insurance policies have mandatory $5,000.00 of medical coverage. Specifically, a person injured in a motor vehicle collision will have at their disposal $5,000.00 to cover medical and hospital charges. From now on, it simply requires you or your lawyer to know about the law change and to request the payment from your insurance company. It is likely that the insurance company will not voluntarily send you this money, but instead, will wait to see if you ask for it. While this medical payment coverage (known in the industry as med-pay) is something that the policyholder can waive in writing, it is likely that overwhelming numbers of Colorado drivers will have this benefit added to their policy without them even knowing it.

Second, up through the end of 2008, if an insurance company paid for medical expenses related to a collision, they would nearly always seek their money back from the auto accident victim, once the case settled with the at-fault driver. This is known as the insurance company's right of subrogation. So, in the past, even though the insurance company might have paid some (non-mandatory) med-pay benefits, and received a premium from their insured to provide it, in actuality, it was often more like a loan. Once the case was settled, the insurance company would expect the accident victim to pay it back. However, effective January 1, 2009, insurance companies who advance med-pay, have lost the right to ask for it back from auto accident victims. If your attorney is aware of this law change, that means thousands of additional dollars will stay with you and not be returned to the insurance company. Obviously, if your attorney has not stayed current on the ever-changing legal landscape of this complex area of law, it will be difficult to tell what rights or benefits you might be losing.

Like many areas of the law, properly representing a client injured in a car accident requires staying current with the law. More than ever, your company's corporate attorney or the nice man whom you hired to do your estate planning, is probably going to be out-gunned and out-maneuvered by the insurance company and their lawyers in an auto accident injury case. To avoid making a mistake in the hiring of your lawyer, ask any attorney you are considering hiring to explain to you any updates in Colorado law pertaining to your type of case. In an auto accident case occurring in 2009, if that attorney does not mention the changes in the law identified above, you should strongly consider hiring someone else.

At Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn, we will always get you in for your consultation on the same day as you call and our initial consultation is always free.


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