If you have suffered a car accident injury you could be facing a long road to recovery. There are lasting effects both mentally and financially. It is important not to compound the situation by making any crucial mistakes immediately following the accident.
Are you wondering what you should do in case you're in an accident and suffer a car accident injury? Read on to find out!
When it comes to car accidents, we like to think that they're something we can avoid, but the numbers tell another story. There were well over 11,000 car accidents in Colorado in which one or more parties were injured in 2017. With numbers like these, the best things Colorado drivers can do is practice defensive driving and be prepared in the event an accident occurs.
1. Do Not Leave the Scene
If you're in a car accident, particularly if you're at fault, your first instinct might be to leave the scene. It's a scary event, and you know car accidents are expensive. Unfortunately, leaving the scene of a car accident, even a minor one, is the worst thing you can do.
Under Colorado law, anyone who leaves the scene of an accident may be charged with a hit and run. Depending on the extent of property damage and injuries to other parties, you may face a Class 2 misdemeanor all the way up to a Class 3 felony. At a minimum, you may get hit with a $1,000 fine and one year in jail.
If you are in an accident, you must stop as soon as possible and remain at the scene.
2. Check for Safety
Once you have stopped at the scene of the accident, you have a legal obligation to assess the scene for safety and assist others who are injured. If you are able to exit your vehicle safely, then you should get out to make sure the other parties are safe. If it is a major accident or there are significant injuries, then you must dial 911 and provide aid until emergency services arrive.
The other party in the accident has this duty, as well. If you are injured, then they are required to assist you. Failure to execute these duties can result in a misdemeanor or felony charge.
Does this mean that if the other party is trapped in a burning car, you need to jump through the flames to get them out? The law only requires you to do what is reasonable to assist the other party.
3. Connect With the Other Drivers
Your next step after your accident is to take a deep breath and touch base with the other drivers to exchange information.
It's important, at this stage, to refrain from making any statements about your fault or your well-being. When you're in a car accident, adrenaline may hinder your awareness of any injuries. In addition, many injuries take some time to show up after an accident.
Anything you say on the scene can, and most likely will, be used against you by insurance companies or in any potential legal proceeding. Stating that you are not injured on the scene can hurt your credibility if you seek compensation for injuries that show up at a later time.
4. Collect Documentation
Police and first responders on the scene are charged with assisting and documenting the scene, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't document the scene on your own. Take thorough photographs of the entire scene, including your car, other vehicles, any damage, and even things like tire marks.
You also need to draft a narrative of events as soon as you can. Trauma, such as car accidents, impacts your ability to store and recall memories. The sooner you draft your version of events, the more accurate it will be.
When you're drafting your memories, note which direction you were driving, where the other vehicle(s) was located, and even the weather. Jot down anything that you think is relevant and store it for later use. If the other parties make statements, write them down as well.
5. Seek Medical Attention
After you've wrapped up at the scene of the accident, your next step should be to seek medical attention. If you're seriously injured, you're likely to bypass many of the previous steps and go straight to the hospital for treatment. In cases where medical treatment is not urgent, it will be up to you to seek medical care.
It's important to seek care as soon as possible to verify if you've suffered any injuries, even if you think you're fine. In the days after the accident, if you notice any pain or achiness, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor or go to urgent care for diagnosis and documentation.
6. Notify Your Insurance
Your next step is going to be to notify your insurance company of the accident. They will send out a claims adjuster to assess damages and determine liability.
If you did not call police at the time of the accident, then you have a duty to file an accident report with the Department of Revenue within 60 days of the accident. You must file this claim even other parties in the accident have filed an accident report. It's important to note that the only times you do not have to call the police after an accident is if the accident did not result in property damage or injury.
It's best to err on the side of caution and notify the police to ensure that you have fulfilled your legal obligations.
7. Retain Counsel
Your final step after being injured in a car accident will be to retain counsel. A skilled attorney knows how to work with insurance companies to make sure that you receive the proper amount in damages for your injuries, both physical and financial. Seeking out an attorney as soon as possible can help ensure that all the right steps are taken from start to finish.
Need Help With Your Car Accident Injury?
Suffering a car accident injury is a scary and unexpected event, but it's important to take the right steps now to make sure that you are properly compensated for your injuries and losses. Be sure to gather the other party's information, document the scene, and preserve any relevant evidence. Finally, contact an attorney to fight for your right to compensation.
Are you looking for a car accident injury attorney to represent you? You're in the right place. Contact Elkus & Sisson, P.C. today to learn how we can help you.