We often talk about negligent driving actions, such as speeding, running red lights, or driving while distracted, but a motorist can also be negligent for things they don’t do.
For instance, a driver who fails to fix a broken headlight or taillight could be negligent if they cause an accident due to poor lighting. Likewise, a car owner who fails to deal with obvious mechanical problems might also be negligent if their vehicle’s failure leads to a collision.
The vehicle owner and/or driver isn’t the only party who might be at fault. A service company paid to fix or maintain a vehicle could be liable if it makes an error that causes a car crash.
For example, if you take your car to the mechanic to have the brakes fixed, you expect them to work when your car is returned. If something goes wrong and your brakes fail shortly after you get your car back, it’s possible the mechanic made an error that caused the accident.
Do You Need a Denver Neglected Vehicle Maintenance Car Accident Attorney?
In many neglected vehicle maintenance cases, the main difficulty is proving another party was neglectful and that their neglect caused your injuries. After all, there are many other potential causes of car accidents, and human error is the most common.
Identifying the lack of maintenance and the liable party can be very challenging, but an experienced car accident lawyer will know the best way to gather evidence and build a strong case.
If you even suspect that neglected vehicle maintenance caused your accident, please contact Olson Law Firm as soon as possible for a free consultation. Evidence can be lost quickly in these cases, so we recommend speaking with a lawyer right away.
It’s also important to leave your car in its current condition if you suspect a mechanic or service worker made an error when maintaining it. We may need to examine the car to learn more about what happened.
What Are Colorado’s Chain Laws?
In some parts of the country, basic vehicle maintenance is sufficient for safe driving. But because Colorado averages around 67 inches of snow each year, and the mountainous, often steep terrain makes driving dangerous in winter weather, the state has enacted chain laws to protect motorists:
- Commercial vehicles must have chains.
- Passenger vehicles need to have either four-wheel or all-wheel drive or should have snow tires or all-weather tires rated for mud and snow. All tires should have a tread depth of 3/16”. If a vehicle doesn’t meet these requirements, it should have chain or alternative traction devices (ATDs).
- Passenger vehicles should have tire chains or ATDs on at least two drive wheels.
- Chains must be used between September 1 and May 31.
- Information on the difference between commercial and passenger vehicles can be found here.
If a driver is out of compliance with chain laws, they could face fines, but more importantly, they might be liable if their lack of chain usage causes an accident.
How Can You Prove Your Case in a Chain Usage Accident?
In any accident, we urge motorists to take extensive photos at the scene (after addressing injuries and calling 911 to report the accident). These pictures will show what, if any, chains or ATDs were on the tires, how many tires had these devices, etc.
If you can, take close-ups of the other vehicle’s tires, in addition to damage on both vehicles, the road, and the surrounding areas.
If you were not able to take pictures, speak with a car accident attorney about your suspicions. We may be able to uncover other evidence, such as pictures or video from a traffic, security, or doorbell camera or witness testimony.
How Do You Know if Another Driver Failed to Maintain Their Vehicle?
In many cases, you won’t. Even if there is an obvious problem like a failed headlight, it’s hard to know how long the problem existed or if the other driver had a reasonable opportunity to fix it.
In other situations, it may simply appear that the other motorist drove recklessly. For example, if the car’s brakes malfunctioned due to a lack of maintenance, it might appear that the driver wasn’t paying attention and failed to slow down.
Either way, the other driver is at fault, and we can seek compensation for your losses. However, in some cases, there may be another liable party, such as a service provider.
Ask yourself a question, however: did the service provider make an error in fixing a problem, or did they unknowingly install a defective component? In the latter case, the responsible party could be the component manufacturer, not the service provider.
As you can see, determining liability can be complicated, but a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can identify the best path to resolving your claim.
What if the Insurance Company Says You Were at Fault?
This can happen even in cases where the other driver’s negligence is well documented.
Colorado uses a system of modified comparative negligence, under which an injured party can still recover damages if they are partially at fault for an accident. Still, there are limitations.
If the injured party is at least 50 percent responsible, they can’t recover anything. If they are less than 50 percent at fault, they can recover but will lose their own percentage of fault.
This benefits anyone who contributes to an accident that is still mainly the fault of another driver or party.
One minor mistake won’t prevent you from recovering most of your damages. But, there is a downside—the insurance companies can use this system to their advantage.
In many cases, we find that the insurance company has overestimated an injured person’s percentage of fault. Maybe they were 5 or 10 percent responsible, but the insurance company has decided they were 25 or 30 percent at fault; or, the insurance adjuster may believe they had some fault when they did not contribute at all.
How Do You Know How Much Fault You Have in an Accident?
The truth is that it’s difficult for the average layperson to calculate their own degree of fault in an accident, and the insurance adjuster knows it. If they overestimate fault, many claimants will simply accept the insurance company’s assessment.
Some might be relieved to get anything at all from the insurance company. Others might call the company and complain, but this often makes the situation worse.
The insurance adjuster will simply record the call and pick apart everything the injured person says, looking for anything else they can misinterpret to indicate fault.
If you have questions about your role in an accident, we recommend discussing them with an attorney before you do anything else. You should, of course, answer the police officer’s questions honestly at the accident scene, but there is no need to speculate about fault or volunteer information they don’t ask about.
Next, call a lawyer before you contact the insurance company. We can help you file a properly-documented claim and demonstrate the other driver’s responsibility.
What if the Insurance Company Makes You an Offer?
If you’ve already filed an insurance claim, it’s not too late to get assistance from a legal expert. Any time you receive an offer from the insurance company, you can ask an attorney to review it before you make a decision.
This is helpful in two ways:
- If the insurance company has overinflated your percentage of fault and reduced your settlement, we can work to achieve a more equitable accounting of your contributions.
- If the insurance company has undervalued your damages, we can also fight for a more accurate calculation. An undervalued claim may exclude future medical costs, or the insurance adjuster might decide specific treatments are unnecessary. They may also underestimate the amount you deserve for other damages like pain and suffering.
As with estimating your own percentage of fault, determining how much your damages are worth is another complicated calculation. Many people aren’t aware of all the damages they’re entitled to and may underestimate the worth of their claim, but your attorney will walk you through all the potential damages in your case, help you assign a value to each one, and then reach an approximate amount you should expect.
If the offer falls significantly short of this amount, we’ll negotiate with the insurance company for a better deal.
How Can You Get Help From a Denver Neglected Vehicle Maintenance Car Accident Law Firm?
Please contact Olson Law Firm for a free consultation about your neglected vehicle maintenance accident. We’ll review the details, investigate further if necessary, and help you understand the options for seeking compensation.
There is no obligation, and we never charge any upfront fees if we take your case.
Olson Law Firm was established in 2012 by attorney Sean Olson. Dedicated to helping people recover from serious or catastrophic injuries, Mr. Olson’s philosophy revolves around building others up.
He is a member of the Wyoming and Colorado Bar Associations and was featured as a Super Lawyers Rising Star five years in a row. When he’s not hard at work on a case, he enjoys mountain biking, fly fishing, and spending time with his family in the great outdoors.
Work with his expert team of lawyers at Olson Law Firm when you call (720) 730-4325.