Do you want to get the maximum settlement from a car accident? There are Colorado laws in place to help injured people get fully compensated. One of those laws is called the Collateral Source Doctrine which states that if a collateral source (namely your health insurance company) reduces a billing then the person who caused the accident does not get to benefit from your health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid reduction. However, if you signed a release from the other side’s insurance company or send your medical bills to them without redacting the “paid amount” the other side’s insurance company will pay you the smaller amount. This is contrary to the Collateral Source doctrine which says you need to be paid for the billed amount, not the paid amount. The rate was discounted because you have health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid and when you settle this case the other side’s insurance company will not be paying you back for the years of health insurance premiums that you have paid out to get this discount. Thus they are not entitled to see the discounted rate. This is why you should only send a bill that shows the billed amount. Next, you need to know that if your health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare pays for your medical bills you may need to pay back that company. This is called subrogation. In Colorado there is a law known as the Make Whole Law which says if you have to pay back your health insurance company and you hired an attorney, that insurance company needs to reduce the amount they want back by the same percentage that you have to pay your attorney. Why does hiring an attorney reduce the amount you need to pay back to your health insurance provider? Since your attorney helped win the money to pay back the insurance company the insurance company needs to help pay some of the attorney fees. If you hired an attorney on a contingency fee, say 1/3, the health insurance needs to reduce how much they want back by 1/3. There are exceptions to this law, so be sure to talk to a Colorado car accident attorney.
FAQ: What happens if I get into an accident with an e-scooter? Dockless, electric scooters arrived suddenly last summer and are apparently here to stay for the foreseeable future. Despite the general disagreement over whether or not this is a good thing, many Denver residents have adopted them as their new means of transport for both work and recreation. However, a recent study by the CDC in Austin, Texas found an average of 20 injuries (15% of which were traumatic brain injuries) per 100,000 rides. With about 5,000 rides per day in Denver and our first death-by-scooter occurring only a week ago, people are starting to wonder who’s at fault when something inevitably goes wrong. If you’ve taken the time to read the 74 page rental agreement you’d know that companies like Lime, Bird, and Lyft claim zero liability for injury incurred on a scooter or damage done while riding one. There are a couple ways this can hurt you as both a rider and a driver. First of all, it’s important to note that in Colorado 1 in 6 drivers doesn’t have car insurance, which means if you get hit by a car while riding a scooter there’s a pretty good chance the driver doesn’t have insurance to begin with. If they do, Colorado only requires a minimum of $25,000 which could be quickly surpassed by medical costs, not to mention pain and suffering compensation for permanent injuries. As a driver, if you hit someone riding a scooter and you’re at fault your drivers insurance will cover the damage. However, you should still be wary if you opted for the $25,000 coverage as it may not get you very far and you will be liable for whatever costs remain. Overall, the best option as a driver is to get more coverage if you’re currently at the minimum. If you also have homeowners or renters insurance with the same agency you’ll likely be able to get an umbrella policy for a slightly larger monthly fee that will add $1 million in coverage and should cover any trouble you manage to get into. If you’re on the scooter things get a little more complicated. If you’re hit while riding a scooter and it’s the driver’s fault the cost of your medical care should be covered by their insurance, whether it’s the driver’s insurance or the insurance registered to the car. If the car and/or driver that hit you is an uninsured or underinsured and you have car insurance, your own UM/UIM insurance will follow you and step in to cover remaining costs. However, in a situation where you’re riding a scooter and damage property, hit a pedestrian, or cause a car accident you could be held liable for all damages. Many have assumed that their drivers insurance would follow them when they’re riding but most auto insurance policies are specific to 4-wheeled vehicles and therefore can’t be applied to a 2-wheeled scooter. Some renters or liability insurance policies cover recreational vehicles but make a note to limit that coverage to non-motorized vehicles (like a bike or your standard razor scooter). The only existing policy that does apply to scooters is motorcycle insurance, but even then all policies are different and if you decide to go that route be advised to check the policy carefully. Denver has been trying to safely integrate the e-scooters into the city’s traffic laws since they arrived. Originally designated as “toy scooters” they were limited to use on sidewalks, but with an average speed of 15mph they conflicted with pedestrian traffic. When the city’s contracts with various scooter providers were renewed last month, those laws were updated and relegated scooters to bike lanes on the roads that have them and allowed them on sidewalks only when a road’s speed limit exceeds 30mph. On sidewalks speeds are limited to 6mph, however no tickets have been issued for riders breaking this rule. Clearly there is more work to be done. The laws for scooters are currently confusing, unenforced, and generally ignored. There’s also a gap in insurance for electric scooters and the responsibility has fallen to the users to find their own coverage. So, if you ride e-scooters often or dodge them daily it would be a good idea call your insurance provider and ask how to get coverage for those situations so you can ride confidently and safely. Watch Phil Harding speak about it on Colorado’s Best on KDVR Denver to learn more and always feel free to contact us for a free consultation.
FAQ: What are the best ways to keep insurance premiums for teenage drivers low? Do you have a teenager that’s about to hit the road for the first time? It’s a scary prospect as a parent, especially considering (according to 2016 national statistics) that motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of death for people aged 16 to 19. Those same statistics show car accidents killed 2,433 teenagers and sent 292,742 of them to the ER in one year. Because of this teen drivers also incur higher insurance premiums, but there are strategies to ease your mind and your wallet the next time your teen asks to borrow the keys. First of all, when choosing a policy for your teen you’ll want to make sure you write your policy in 12 month terms, as opposed to 3 or 6. This way even if something does happen your premiums won’t rise until the policy is renewed. Another tactic is to rate your teen on your cheapest car. Obviously kids in sports cars are expensive to insure, but you could be surprised by the amount you save on premiums when you switch the rate from your newest car to one that’s a bit older and cheaper. Beyond the policy itself there are other ways to save money when insuring your teen, and these tactics have the added advantage of encouraging your teen to drive more safely. If your child is a good student that’s a great place to start! Most policies offer a discount of 10-20% for high school drivers with a 3.0 grade point average. There are also programs in place like Teen Safe Driver from American Family Insurance. This is an app that’s installed on your teenager’s smartphone that monitors their driving, rates each trip, and gives them feedback on what they could improve on. The app looks at things like speed, location, texting while driving, hard breaks, and extreme accelerations. It also sends its report to you so you can identify bad habits and start conversations about dangerous driving. Once your teen completes a year in the program or drives 3,000 miles with the app (whichever comes first) you’ll receive a 10% discount on their policy. Apart from these programs there are some general safe driving tips that apply to everyone and may seem simple, but having these conversations with your new driver could save you money and heartache. Seatbelts save 15,000 lives every year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and should be worn at all times while in a vehicle. They keep you inside the car (and therefore 4 times more likely to survive a crash), reduce injuries by spreading out the force of impact, and protect the brain and spinal cord. It’s also incredibly important to talk to your teen about the dangers of distracted driving. They’ll tell you they already know, but it still causes nearly 60% of teen crashes. One of the biggest reasons to have a conversation about it is that it’s the kind of behavior that compounds when it’s not corrected. Like drunk driving, if they get away with it a few times they can convince themselves that they’re good at it and won’t correct the behavior on their own until a crash or police intervention forces them to. Obviously drinking or texting while driving is incredibly dangerous but distraction and impairment can come in many forms, really it’s anything that takes their mind or eyes off the road. Talking on hands free devices has been proven to be just as dangerous as talking on a cell phone normally. Driving while tired slows reaction times and is responsible for an enormous number of fatal crashes every year. Even things that seem innocuous such as turning the radio station, changing the temperature, or talking to a friend in the car can greatly increase their chances of getting into an accident. Another great piece of advice to tell your teens is to pause for a moment if they’re the first in line when a light turns green. The amount of people running red lights has been on the rise over the last few years so taking a second at a green light is an increasingly useful habit to avoid a nasty crash and all the grief that comes with it. Backing into or pulling through spots in a parking lot is one more way to avoid accidents. The majority of backover accidents happen in parking lots and driveways and taking the time to back into a spot will give them a better vantage point to see pedestrians and other traffic when their getting ready to leave the space. To learn more about keeping your teens safe and premiums low watch Phil Harding on Colorado’s Best on KDVR Denver to learn more and, as always, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.