What Should you know in case of a Car Accident
Unfortunately, these things happen and car accidents are becoming more and more common as the population of the state of Colorado continues to grow through migration. According to Denver Post, 10,000.00 people are moving to the State of Colorado every month. Here is a short list of very important DOs and DON’Ts in case you were involved in an accident:
- CALL THE POLICE, even if the other driver is asking you not to. Of course, it is required by law that you do, but many of us choose not to or feel sorry for the other driver (at fault). Trust me on this – it’s in your best interest, especially if the accident was not your fault, to call the police for various reasons, but most importantly it is to protect yourself and get a clear record of what happened.
In our practice, we often see situations where the at fault driver will be begging our client not to call the police for various reasons. The at fault driver will promise that he or she will confirm his or her fault to the insurance company once the claim is made. However, once our client makes a claim with the at fault insurance carrier, the other driver often denies fault or claims that no accident ever took place. I remember one time when the at fault driver who rear-ended our client was claiming that it was our client who backed into them. Thankfully, there were witnesses. Bottom line is, don’t even take a chance.
- Take Pictures of the Accident. I know we live in an era of smart phones and most of us have amazing cameras on our phones. Put them to use!! Take pictures of the accident from various angels BEFORE you choose to move your vehicles to a less busy place. I always have a camera in my glove compartment as a backup as well. (Yes! Those still exist.)
The reason it’s important is so that you can capture the aftermath of the accident, the location and direction of the vehicles involved, the cross streets if possible, license plates of the vehicles involved, etc. Not to mention that if you don’t, you run into a chance that the at fault driver may flee the scene once you decide to move your vehicles to a less busy street or a parking lot. Not to scare you, but it does happen.
- Exchange Insurance Information. Yes, you have to. Yet another thing you are required to do by law even if you are not at fault. This is where cameras come in handy as well. I always suggest that you take photos of the insurance card and driver’s license. If your handwriting is anything like mine – good luck reading it afterwards!
In addition, you will be able to capture not just the name of the insurance company and the policy number, but many other details on their insurance card that are important. Plus don’t forget about the photo ID. You will actually have their photo saved if you take a photo of their driver’s license. If these explanations are not enough – just think of how much time you will save snapping those two photos instead of re-writing everything while under stress.
- Do NOT post anything about the accident on your social media. You may think you are posting in your private space. Wrong! This is all public information and can be used against you.
It is very tempting to post a snarky remark on your social media about your bad day or to let your friends and family know what happened to you and that you are ok, hopefully. However, be patient. Even if what you are posting is true and is seemingly innocent, in the hands of the insurance adjusters your post can be twisted and turned to portray an entirely different scenario.
- Do NOT make any statements to anybody except the police. Very important! Especially to the other (at fault) Auto Insurance Company. They may make it sound like you have to – YOU DON’T. There is no law about it and you are not obligated to give them any statements. If they want to get your side of the story about the accident tell them to pull the police report and read it.
Better yet, hire an attorney and tell anybody who calls you to call your attorney with any questions. You do however, have a contractual obligation to make a recorded statement with your own auto insurance. If you retain our attorney, the attorney will do a recorded statement in his presence to make sure that all questions asked by the insurance agent are appropriate and are related to the accident. Even your own auto insurance company may want to get out of paying for your damages, especially if the other driver was underinsured or uninsured.
- Do NOT sign anything. I am serious! If you don’t know what it is 100% – don’t sign it. Get legal advice if you are not sure. As a rule of thumb – don’t sign ANYTHING from the at fault (3rd Party) Auto Insurance Company.
- IF YOU ARE INJURED – GO TO THE HOSPITAL! This is not the time to play tough. Get your injuries checked out and get them on record. The more time that goes by between the accident and the time that you see a doctor the more difficult it is to prove the causation of your injuries. Don’t wait!
Often times, our clients’ who were injured as a result of an auto accident due to no fault of their own have a hard time getting their bills paid through the at fault insurance. The at fault driver’s insurance carriers job is to minimize and, sometimes, to negate your injuries and treatment. One of the most common tactics that they use is to say that your injuries are not related to the accident. That is especially easy for them to do if you do not seek immediate medical attention. Go the hospital or at least urgent care the same day. Don’t wait a week, two weeks or even longer to check out your injuries. If you are anything like my mom, then you also will not go to a doctor until you are literally falling down with illness. Some people are just that way. They stay strong, but that’s not always a good thing. In this instance, don’t be like my mom.
- Finally, if you ARE injured – GET AN ATTORNEY! There is no out of pocket fee to you and many benefits are provided. Our attorney works on a contingency fee basis, which means that he takes a percentage of the recovery so that you don’t have to payout of pocket. And if he does not win anything, you don’t owe him any fee either. Unlike many other personal injury lawyers, our attorney will also help you get your property damage (your car repairs) taken care of in the process of handling your case, but he does not take any percentage from your property damage recovery. It’s an added bonus to you.
There will be things that the at fault insurance company will do to minimize or negate your claim that nobody can prepare you for. They often play games and you have to be on top of all of the correspondence to get the money you deserve. And frankly, it’s like a full time job at times and requires a lot of written back and forth correspondence. Focus on your treatment and getting your life back on track. Let the professionals do what they do best.
If you have any questions, please call Balaban Law, LLC at 303-377-3474 for a free consultation.
Written by Tania Hansen