Insurance companies often attempt to settle bodily injury claims early and cheaply. Usually, they contact the injured claimant and offer money to help with medical expenses, when in reality, this money is only provided in exchange for a full release of all claims. This is a common problem injured people face in Colorado. Fortunately, the Colorado legislature has enacted C.R.S. § 13-21-301.
This statute allows injured claimants to void a settlement reached within 30 days of the occurrence with an insurance company that insures the liable parties so long as the claimant is “a patient under the care of a practitioner of the healing arts or is hospitalized.” There is limited case law interpreting this statute, but the Colorado Court of Appeals has found for a plaintiff to be considered under the care of a practitioner of the healing arts within the purview of statute governing settlement, release and statement of injured person, such care need not be actual and continuous, but must be provided in good faith and must be reasonably required. Smith v. Safeway Stores, Inc. 636 P.2d 1310 (Colo. App. 1983); citing to Bolles v. Smith, 92 N.M. 524 (1979).
The insurance company is also not permitted to obtain or attempt to obtain any statement, either written, oral, recorded or otherwise from the injured claimant for use in negotiating a settlement or obtaining a release within 30 days of the incident when the patient is under the care of a medical provider.
Any settlement agreement entered in violation of this statute is null and void. Call us today to explore your options in setting aside an early and insufficient settlement.