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Auto Accidents and Criminal Justice

February 28, 2012 by The Sawaya Law Firm

Pursuing Damages Caused By An Auto-accident Through The Criminal Justice System

When an uninsured motorist causes an auto accident, the victim will often incur financial and other damages that they are not compensated for. For example, even if the victim has their own insurance they are often required to pay expensive deductibles to have their vehicle repaired. Generally, the tort system is charged with the task of allocating fault and damages between two parties, however, if the at fault party does not have insurance, the schematic structure underlying the tort system does not always accomplish the goal of allocating fault and damages as between two parties evenly. Thus, it is often the case that the victim of the automobile collision, involving an uninsured motorist is not fully compensated for the damages that they sustained in the collision.

When there is no insurance coverage there are significant barriers to full compensation when you are the victim of a car accident. The cost of retaining an attorney to pursue an at fault driver is generally prohibitive because of high retainers, as well as the anticipated recovery being nominal at best. In addition, the legal process can be complicated and not many individuals are willing to undertake representing themselves in an attempt to recover from the personal assets of the at fault driver. However, there are viable options available to victims of automobile collisions that are both inexpensive and in some instances, allow the victim to collect damages from an uninsured at fault driver.

In Colorado, if you are the victim of a crime the Restitution Statute (C.R.S. 18-1.3-603), requires that each conviction for a felony or misdemeanor address the pecuniary losses of the victim. This statute, in effect, grants the victim’s of crimes, including auto collisions, access to the criminal justice system in an effort to compensate them for their damages. Each District Attorney’s office has victim’s assistance services that are required to contact the victim’s of crimes, not only to make them aware of their rights, but to help them with navigating the criminal justice system. The victim’s assistance department should be your primary contact when attempting to be reimbursed for financial losses through the restitution statute. This is a viable option because of the help a victim can receive through the District Attorney’s office. In addition, the District Attorney will often help negotiate and secure an order for restitution. Your primary responsibility as the victim is to submit documentation for your losses. In addition, once an order for restitution goes into effect the individual charged with it may be unable to complete probation, prohibited from obtaining a driver’s license and face other sanctions for not paying the order for restitution.

A victim is allowed to claim any pecuniary loss related to the accident. Claimed losses may include health care deductibles, automobile collision deductibles, and in some instances the value of an entire vehicle. In sum, not only do practicing personal injury attorney’s need to be aware of the intricacies of Colorado’s restitution system, but anyone who has been the victim of an automobile collision should as well.

The Sawaya Law Firm is Denver’s personal injury law firm. With over 40 years of experience and a compassionate team prepared to listen to your story, The Sawaya Law Firm is here to help. Contact us anytime.

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