What to Do After a Car Accident
There are few things that are more shocking, and that have the potential to cause injury in a matter of seconds, than a car accident.
Denver, Colorado sees hundreds of car accidents and dozens of fatalities per year, and even the safest of drivers are at risk of being involved in a collision in our city.
While being involved in a car accident can be traumatic, if you weren’t to blame for the crash, there’s a strong likelihood that you can recover compensation for the full value of damages that you’ve suffered by filing a car accident claim.
However, in order for your claim to be successful, you’ll need to take the proper steps, follow the proper protocol, and present plenty of convincing evidence.
While our Denver, Colorado car accident attorneys at Denver Trial Lawyers ® can help, the process of building a successful claim starts immediately after a crash occurs. Review our checklist of what to do after a car accident, and call our Denver lawyers for more information and assistance that’s specific to your case--
Check for Injuries Between All Parties
The first thing that you should do immediately after an accident will be to check for any injuries. Check for injuries suffered by yourself, your passengers, or occupants in the other vehicle(s) involved. You should only move your vehicle unless it is absolutely necessary unless you are in an area where a secondary collision can occur then move your vehicle to a safe location.
If there are any injuries, do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 and seek emergency assistance. If anyone is injured, the operator should guide you through some basic first aid and things that you can do to support the injured person while you wait for professional assistance to arrive.
Call the Police and File a Police Report
Even if everyone within your vehicle and the vehicle of the other driver is OK, you still need to call the police and file a police report. Preferably, you will do this immediately, and the police will come to the accident scene to document the crash and file a report.
Note that filing a police report in Colorado after an accident is mandatory. To be sure, drivers are required, per Colorado Revised Statutes Section 42-4-1606 to report an accident to police anytime that anyone is injured or killed in a crash, or when any property damage occurs.
Filing a police report isn’t just important because of the fact that doing so is required under the law, but also because filing a police report is an important type of evidence. In fact, if you attempt to file an insurance claim and do not have a police report, your claim will likely be denied.
Or, at the very least, you will have a more difficult time proving the relationship between your damages and the “supposed” car accident.
Gather Evidence at the Scene
As you wait for police to arrive at the accident scene so that you can file a police report, you should use the time efficiently by starting to gather as much evidence as possible. Evidence that is important in a car accident claim includes:
- The other driver’s name and information;
- The information of any eyewitnesses to the accident;
- Makes, models, and license plate numbers of any vehicles involved;
- A rough diagram of the vehicles’ positions; and
- Photos - photos can offer more insight into how a crash occurred and prove causation and extent of damages. Things to take photos of at the crash scene include:
- Interior and exterior damage to vehicles
- Your injuries
- Traffic lights
- Traffic signs
- Road conditions
- Vehicle positioning
- Anything else that may be relevant to your claim
When the police arrive and you do file a police report, be sure to get the badge number of the responding officer. Also make sure to request a copy of the accident report for your records.
Find out how to get a copy of your car accident report below:
Seek Medical Care
One of the most important things that you can do after an accident is to seek medical care, even if you don’t think that your injuries are very serious. Seeking medical care is important for a number of reasons, primarily:
- Seeking medical care is important for your health and wellbeing. Note that not all injuries are immediately apparent, especially when adrenaline levels are high. By seeking medical care, you can rule out any serious injuries, and also make sure that you get a proper diagnosis for injuries that you may not know you have, such as a concussion. Getting the right diagnosis and treatment is obviously better for your overall health, wellbeing, and recovery.
- Seeking medical care establishes causation. When you seek medical care immediately after an accident, you are creating a source of evidence that highlights causation - that is, that your injuries were a direct result of the accident. If you fail to seek medical care but then later request compensation for injuries, the insurance adjuster assigned to your case will likely wonder why you did not seek medical care, to begin with, and question whether or not your injuries are actually related to the car accident.
Notify Your Insurance Company
You have a duty to notify your insurance company of your accident within a timely manner; the insurance company has a right to investigate the accident themselves, and if you do not notify them of the accident in a timely manner, they may maintain the right to deny your claim outright.
When providing notice to the insurance company, there are a few tips to keep in mind to protect your right to your full compensation amount--
- No matter what you do, do not admit fault;
- Don’t provide details that you’re uncertain about, such as the speed at which you were traveling;
- Don’t give information about your injuries - just say that you’re seeking medical care and treatment is underway, but you’d rather not discuss it further;
- Don’t hyperbolize, as any misstatement can be used against you later; and
- Don’t sign anything or give a recorded statement without the counsel of a lawyer.
While it can be difficult to accept, insurance adjusters are often trying to find ways to diminish the value of a claim, and often create traps that claimants fall right into. If you’re worried about how to best navigate a conversation with an insurance adjuster, consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim.
Start an Accident Journal
As soon as possible after your car accident, you should start keeping an accident journal. An accident journal is a place for you to write down the various details of your accident, your feelings regarding the accident, and notes about your injuries, your recovery, and how your injuries impede your daily activities.
While an accident journal is a great therapeutic tool, it’s purpose isn’t only to have a safe space to document the details related to your crash; rather, an accident journal can also be referenced at a later date to learn more about the pain and suffering you’ve experienced as a result of the accident, as well as your quality of life post-accident.
The more information that you have in your journal, especially as it pertains to your day-to-day experience, routine, and limitations, the more helpful an accident journal will be.
Get Your Documents and Evidence in Order
Once you have begun healing and are able to start making sense of your various insurance claims, medical expenses, property damage expenses, lost wages, etc., you need to start getting your documents and evidence in order (note: if you keep thorough records from the get-go and create a system for organizing different documents early on, documentation will be much easier overall).
The more evidence that you have, ranging from medical expenses to doctors’ notes about your injuries to your personal journal and more, the stronger that your claim will be. If you have any questions about what types of evidence are necessary, you should consult with a personal injury attorney.
What’s more, make sure that you bring all the documentation and evidence that you have to your car accident-free consultation.
Call a Denver, Colorado Car Accident Lawyer
After a car accident, you should contact a Denver, Colorado car accident lawyer. You need to contact a lawyer right away because there is still evidence on the roadway, such as tire and skid marks or pieces of the vehicle.
You can set up a free consultation to learn more about the claims process and your financial recovery options and request more information that is specific to you.
It’s also a time for your prospective lawyer to learn more about your case - again, the more information you bring to a free consultation, the more accurate of a picture your attorney can paint for you in terms of recovery amount, timeline, etc. To schedule a free consultation with the law offices of Denver Trial Lawyers ®, please call our firm directly or send us a message online.
We have years of experience and are fully committed to obtaining the best possible results for our clients possible. It all begins with a free consultation - reach out today to get started.