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Emergency rule abolished for car accident lawsuits in Colorado

The Colorado Supreme Court recently ruled that they will no longer have an emergency exception for individuals involved in car accidents. The court said they ruled this way to make sure jurors in car accident liability lawsuits are not confused or mislead about accident and negligent injury lawsuits.

The ruling stems back to a 2004 car accident liability lawsuit in Colorado. The Colorado Supreme Court ordered a new trial for a man who filed a negligence lawsuit against a driver who skidded on an icy road and crashed into his vehicle back in 2004. The plaintiff was injured and said that the other driver was negligent in driving his vehicle, which lead to the accident and his injuries.

The Colorado Supreme Court ordered a new trial because the original jury ruled in favor of the defendant who skidded and crashed into the man's car. The jury ruled in favor of the other driver because of the state's sudden emergency doctrine that states that a driver confronted by a sudden emergency cannot be expected to respond in a normal manner. The jury said that under the doctrine, the other driver could not be expected to drive in a normal way after he hit an icy spot on the road, which lead to the accident and subsequent injury of the other driver.

The Colorado Supreme Court did not agree with the jury's ruling and ordered a new trial for the plaintiff. They said that the sudden emergency doctrine is confusing in personal injury cases like this one and decided to abolish the doctrine because it can end up misleading a jury and may cause more appeals in future cases.

The Supreme Court ruling may a significant impact on future negligence lawsuits filed after car accidents because individuals being sued will not be able to use emergency situations like the weather or other road conditions as an excuse for their alleged negligent driving.

Source: Fox 21, "Colo. court abolishes accident emergency rule," Jan. 22, 2013

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