For many Americans, car accidents are an unfortunate fact of life—especially in areas where public transportation is scarce. Sadly, you can do everything right and still have something go wrong. After all, you cannot control the actions of others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), auto accidents leave approximately 2 million people injured each year. Do you know what to do after a car accident?
It is important to note that you should never leave the accident scene (no matter how minor) without speaking to a police officer. If at all possible, pull over to the side of the road. Set up flares or turn your blinkers on to let other drivers know to navigate around you. Then, call the police (even if there are no serious injuries involved). While you are waiting for the officers to arrive, exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver. Make sure to take down the driver’s name, address, telephone number, insurance policy number, and driver’s license number.
Every successful auto accident claim is backed up by a mountain of evidence. It is always easier to begin collecting evidence right away than it is to work retroactively. Luckily, smartphones are perfect for this! Take photographs of any damage done to your vehicle, any injury you or your passengers have suffered, and anything else you feel may be relevant. The time immediately after an accident is also the perfect time to speak to potential witnesses. You may even want to ask nearby business owners if their surveillance cameras caught your accident on tape. Make sure to take down your witness’ names and contact information in case you need to talk to them again later.
Filing a police report is one of the most important things you can do for your auto accident claim. However, police officers will not always show up to the accident scene. For instance, if the department is having a particularly busy day or your accident was relatively minor, then it is likely that an officer may not arrive at the scene. If that happens to you, there is no need to worry. You may still be able to file an accident report. In the state of Colorado, you can do so online.
If the officers do arrive, however, give them a full and honest account of the accident. Try to stick to the facts and avoid editorializing. In the heat of the moment, it can be easy to say something misunderstood as an admission of guilt. Just tell the officer exactly what happened, and let them know if there are any gaps in your memory or understanding. Furthermore, many car accident injuries take a while to fully manifest. Thus, it is in your best interest that you do not deny being injured until you have seen a doctor. Finally, if you hear any mistakes in the other party’s account of the accident, do not hesitate to correct them.
Many times, car accident victims do not feel the effects of their injuries until a day or two after the crash. Injuries also generally only get worse with time and without treatment, so you need to see a doctor immediately. Even “minor” accidents can result in serious, permanent injuries to your spinal cord. It is also possible that you have unknowingly suffered a concussion or closed head injury. These are critical injuries that could drastically impact you for the rest of your life, even causing cognitive and behavioral changes without proper treatment.
Knowledge is the first step to empowerment. Consulting with an auto accident attorney is a quick and easy way for you to get a primer on how to protect your rights. It can be tough to navigate a car accident claim without a full and comprehensive understanding of the law. You may inadvertently destroy valuable evidence or fall prey to the insurance company’s tactics. Having a good legal team on your side can prevent this. Compile and organize all of your accident-related documents and information. You should have the claim number, the claims adjuster’s contact information, the other driver’s contact and insurance information, and any witness contact information on hand at all times.
Many times, people make the innocent mistake of believing insurance providers are on their side. After all, how many commercials have you seen with a friendly insurance agent promising to get you your rightfully owed compensation? In reality, insurance companies are businesses like any other. They have one thing on their mind: their own bottom line. They have every reason to minimize your settlement. After all, every dollar that goes to you comes out of their pockets!
Speaking to a claims adjuster without first consulting an attorney is the easiest way to sabotage your car accident claim. Claims adjusters are specially trained investigators who know how to lull you into a false sense of security. Do not be pressured into accepting less than you deserve. Stick only to the facts whenever you speak to your claims adjuster, and try to minimize your direct contact with the insurance provider as much as possible. A qualified auto accident attorney can act as your liaison. After all, you already have enough on your plate. Why should you have to worry about this too?
Were you or a loved one recently injured in a car accident? We at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. Taking care of a car accident claim can be overwhelming, especially if you were in a smaller vehicle. We believe you should never have to pay for someone else’s mistakes. Let us fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our trusted nationwide car accident attorneys.