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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 88092
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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I was a front seat passenger in an automobile accident in Denver

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I was a front seat passenger in an automobile accident in Denver Co. I wasn't wearing a seatbelt. I sustained multiple injuries, the worse being a very badly broken talar bone in my ankle,plus some upper body injuries as well. I have ended up disabled as a result of the accident. I have filed a lawsuit against the driver's ins co. as she was at fault and I had no medical ins. at the time. We are in negotiations to settle at this point. My attorney is telling my that I may not get any award for upper body injury at all, or compensated for pain and suffering due to the fact that I was not wearing a seatbelt. Is this true? Also, what is the highest reward given for an ankle in such an accident in Co. My attorney tells me Co. is a very consevative state when it comes to pay outs on lawsuits. True?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is Ely. I am here to help you. There may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies as I type out a reply. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice; and (2) my function is to give you honest information and not to tell you what you necessarily wish to hear.

I am very sorry for your situation. Please allow me to address the separate issues one by one below.

Seatbelt - An Issue?
Please understand how this works. Should negotiations fail and you go to Court, then the jury will decide on negligence - was the driver negligent? Colorado follows a modified comparative fault rule in determining negligence: an injured party can only recover if it is determined that their fault in causing the injury is 49% or less. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-111.

This means that you can only recover for injury overall if it is shown that you are responsible for 49% or less of the injury.

Your attorney is stating that you may not recover for upper body or the pain/suffering because he is "mimicking" a jury's mind when they deliberate - "Well, is this individual's not wearing a seatbelt 49% fault or more of the injury? If so, we do not want to give him that much..."

So yes, there is a risk that you may get a lesser award, or even none at all (if the jury decides that you not wearing a seatbelt was such an issue that it caused 49% of the fault). So there is a risk.

However, juries are unpredictable - you really never know. So it is always a gamble - settle for a little less or go to jury for an unpredictable amount. In the end, the choice is yours whether to go to trial or to settle - remember, the attorney works for you and should follow your decision.

Also, what is the highest reward given for an ankle in such an accident in Co. My attorney tells me Co. is a very consevative state when it comes to pay outs on lawsuits. True?

There are no county/state statistics for injury awards by type because (1) many settlements have a non-disclosure and/or are never filed with the court, and/or (2) the state simply does not collect such statistics. Ergo, I am sorry to state that you will likely not find an "average" or "highest" award number for your county or Colorado. However, Colorado is known to be conservative when it comes to juries and awards, except when it is for medical malpractice (paradoxically, Colorado leads the state in the amount awarded for this).

IMPORTANT INFO: I hope this finds you well. Please use REPLY TO EXPERT to keep talking, or RATE my answer when we are finished. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces and then SUBMIT, because this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces does not give me credit and reflects negatively on me as an expert even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. Do not worry, you may always ask follow ups free after rating.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Because I had no medical ins. at the time of the accident I had to rely on the Dept of Public Welfare to cover my medical bills. I was self employed and could no longer afford to pay my ins. premiums due to the accident putting me out of work. So after the driver's first party payout was exhausted,DPW took care of my medical to this point. They, of course must be paid back out of my settlement at a reduced rate. My attorney is asking other med. providers who did not participate in the DPW program to reduce their bills accordingly, which I understand is customary. If my settlement is considerably less than we had first expected is it ever proper for me to ask my attorney to low his percentage?

Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.
My attorney is asking other med. providers who did not participate in the DPW program to reduce their bills accordingly, which I understand is customary.

Correct, this is.

If my settlement is considerably less than we had first expected is it ever proper for me to ask my attorney to low his percentage?

It is not customary but it would not be improper for you to ask - the attorney is unlikely to take offense. However, they are likely to decline the request, I am afraid.

IMPORTANT INFO: I hope this finds you well. Please use REPLY TO EXPERT to keep talking, or RATE my answer when we are finished. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces and then SUBMIT, because this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces does not give me credit and reflects negatively on me as an expert even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. Do not worry, you may always ask follow ups free after rating.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you so much for helping me better understand my situation. Sometimes it just takes a second party to verify what you are being told to make one feel more confident in their decision making. I am not willing to take the chance of a jury trial giving me nothing after the nearly 3yrs of, well, unpleasantries to get this over with. No amount of money can give me the life back that I once enjoyed, but I, with the strength from God, have found new ways to enjoy the life I was spared.

Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.
I am glad you feel confident and you are quite welcome. Good luck, and please don't forget to rate my answer in one of top three faces and then SUBMIT – it is the only way I get credit for my time with you.
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 88092
Experience: Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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