In the immediate minutes, hours and days after a car or motorcycle accident in Denver, Colorado, people do the strangest things. Sometimes they act irrationally due to the burst of adrenaline in their bodies. Other times, they are simply naïve about their own injuries, or they innocently trust the other driver to take responsibility for the damages they caused.
Whatever the reason, I’ve seen far too many personal injury cases in which the victim does something harmful to his or her own interests, thereby limiting their ability to secure the funds they need to heal or replace their property.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share these 8 tips on what to do after a car accident in the state of Colorado.
Print this up and put it in your glove box!
I have literally never heard a victim say, “I sure wish I hadn’t called the police to the accident.” As the victim of someone else’s negligence, you will have the duty to prove that the other driver caused the accident. You do not want it to come down to he said/she said because a lot (A LOT!) of at-fault drivers lie after causing an accident. They may tell you to your face that they caused it, and that they will “make it right.” But later they start thinking about the financial impact on their insurance and they do a 180.
A police report provides an official document of what happened. You need to make sure that the true story is captured at the scene of the accident.
When you have pictures of the accident scene, you can more easily tell your story. (A picture is worth a thousand words!) And pictures make your story more easily understood by others. I’ve handled cases in which the pictures of the scene flip a case completely on its head: insurance companies balking, saying they won’t pay, will completely change their tune if you have pictures that prove their driver caused the accident.
As soon as you get out of the car (assuming you can), find people who saw what happened. Get them to make a statement to police or get a video of them on your phone sharing their stories. Make sure to get their names and contact information so that police and your personal injury attorney can track them down later.
We used to have to hunt all over the car for a piece of paper and pencil so that we could collect the other driver’s insurance information. Just use your phone and snap a picture of the front and back.
If you have the slightest concern that you were injured by the accident, head to an emergency room. I’ve seen too many victims brush off little aches and pains that later became major health issues. For example, we recently were hired by a woman who was in an accident two years ago. At the time, she didn’t seek medical attention even though she “tweaked” her back in the accident. But, as time went on, those aches and pains never subsided. Two years later, she discovered she needed back surgery. Without the proper documentation from a hospital visit just after the accident, we had a very hard time proving that the injury was a result of the impact. (But we did it!) Consider your future health and seek immediate medical attention.
The hospital can’t do anything with the other driver’s auto insurance. Nothing. However, it does alert them to the fact that your injuries were the result of an accident, which does impact how they handle your billing. Essentially, they will do everything in their power to avoid billing your own medical insurance because they stand to make a lot more if you receive a settlement from the other driver’s insurance. They want a piece of the money owed to you! On the other hand, if you give them your health insurance card, they are required by law to use it.
In this sharing society, we want to post everything on our social media platforms. But please think twice before you post anything at all about your accident. Yes, the photos are probably very dramatic and impressive, but I guarantee that the other driver’s insurance company will search for them and try to use them against you. Save them for after your case is closed. Also, don’t post any updates about your health condition. If you have one good day and post, “Feeling better!” the insurance company will claim that they owe you nothing.
You know that old saying, “Anything you say can and will be used against you”? It definitely applies to every conversation you have with the other driver’s insurance company. Under Colorado law, the other driver’s insurance company is not allowed to use any statement that you make within 15 days of the accident. However, I know for a fact (I worked in the insurance industry) that they will write down absolutely everything you say to them, looking for a way out of the case. They will also ask for your permission to record their calls with you. NEVER let them record a statement unless you are accompanied by an attorney.
What Insurance Companies Don’t Want You to Know: Insurance companies — even your own — will try to avoid paying what you are rightly owed.
Diminution of Value: What if your car is damaged but not totaled? You might be owed more money!