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What to Do After a Car Accident in Colorado

Car crashes are one of the leading causes of injury in Colorado, but no one expects to be involved in one. When a crash happens, you may not have any idea what to do or where to start. However, the steps you take immediately after a crash and the days following one can have a big impact on your accident claim.

The Denver car accident attorneys at Dormer Harpring have years of combined experience representing individuals who sustained serious injuries in traffic collisions. We understand what to do after a car accident in Colorado. Below, our lawyers explain what steps you should take immediately after an accident to protect your chances of receiving the maximum amount of compensation possible.

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What Should I Do Immediately After a Car Crash?

A car accident happens in an instant and can cause devastating injuries to those involved. Therefore, your first priority after a crash is to get emergency medical attention for yourself and any other injury victims. If you or a loved one needs to go to the hospital for life-saving care, everything else is secondary.

However, if you are able to remain at the scene, then you should take steps to gather and preserve evidence. Photos and video can be essential to the success of your future claim. The steps you should take at the scene include:

  1. Call emergency services. Even if all injuries seem minor, you should allow yourself to be checked by emergency responders.
  2. Call the police. You will need a police report to provide a neutral report of the road conditions, property damage, injuries, and other factors that contributed to the cause of the crash. Positions of the involved cars, documentation of witness statements, and the insurance information of the drivers will be needed.
  3. Take pictures of the scene. Make sure to photograph the damage to all vehicles involved as well as the surrounding area. Defects in the road, guardrails, or signage may cause a car accident. Sometimes the city or entity in charge of the road may be liable for your injuries.
  4. Speak with witnesses. If anyone witnessed the accident, be sure to record their names and contact information, including their full name, phone number, and email. Their testimony may later be essential to your claim.
  5. Exchange information with the other driver(s). Get the names, insurance information, and a contact number from any other drivers involved in the collision.
  6. Speak with the responding police officer. Explain your side of the story and ask how to get a copy of the police report.

What Should I Do in the Days After a Car Accident?

Once you leave the scene of the accident, you should take additional steps to protect your future claim. You should:

  • Contact your car insurance provider. You are obligated to tell your insurer that you were involved in an accident. However, you should not agree to a recorded statement without first speaking to a lawyer. Your own insurance company may try to obtain information or get you to answer questions in a way that protects their own exposure to a claim. You must cooperate with your own insurer, but you should politely insist that you speak with an attorney before providing anything more than basic details.
  • Visit a doctor. Even if you feel fine at the scene of an accident, you should still get a medical check as soon as possible. Often, adrenaline masks the pain of even serious injuries. The sooner you get a check-up, the more difficult it will be for the other party to claim that your injuries are unrelated to the accident.
  • Document lost income. In Colorado, if you miss work or lose income because of a car crash caused by another person, they must compensate you for this financial loss. It is vital to document it by copying and saving bank statements, pay stubs, and communications with your work about absences. If you are forced to use paid time off or vacation, you are also entitled to compensation. Provide these documents to the attorney you consult with to receive the full compensation entitled to you by law.
  • Call a car accident lawyer. You should always consult with a qualified legal professional before filing a claim or agreeing to speak with the at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster. Your lawyer should be able to handle the majority of the calls and paperwork on your behalf. This means you will not have to negotiate with the insurance company yourself. You can concentrate on your health and your family. Additionally, an attorney can walk you through the rest of your claim so that you are not alone.

What Parties Can Be Liable? 

Colorado is a fault-based car accident state, which gives crash victims the right to seek financial compensation from the insurance provider of the at-fault driver or party. By contrast, in no-fault states, victims file claims with their own insurance carriers, regardless of fault. After a car accident in Colorado, you will need to determine fault before you can file an insurance claim.

The party that you hold liable, or financially responsible, will depend on the cause of the crash. The majority of car accidents are caused by negligent drivers. If a driver committed a moving violation, such as speeding or running a red light, this could be used as evidence of fault. If the driver was on the clock at the time of the collision, his or her employer could be held vicariously liable. 

Third parties can also face liability in car accident cases. For example, if a defective vehicle part caused the accident, a product liability claim could be filed against the auto manufacturer. The owner of the vehicle – if different from the driver – could also face liability if poor vehicle maintenance contributed to the crash. Finally, the government in Colorado could be held liable for a car accident that is caused by a road defect or hazard.

Damages You May Recover

Damages is the legal term for financial compensation that a victim can recover with a successful car accident claim against the at-fault driver or party. If you file an insurance claim or lawsuit after a car accident in Colorado, the damages you recover will depend on the circumstances. Common types include:

  • Past and future crash-related medical expenses
  • Lost wages and capacity to earn
  • Disability costs and accommodations
  • Property damage repairs or vehicle replacement
  • Physical pain and emotional suffering
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Loss of consortium
  • Wrongful death damages

It is important to discuss the potential value of your car accident claim with an attorney before you accept an insurance settlement. An insurance company may try to take advantage of you or convince you to accept a smaller settlement than you deserve. Your car accident lawyer can take over insurance claim negotiations to fight for a fair case outcome.

Your Rights as a Passenger in an Accident

If you were injured as a passenger in an automobile accident in Colorado, you have the same right to recover compensation for your injuries as the driver of the vehicle. You may qualify for financial damages even more easily since you will not be one of the parties investigated for possible fault.

As an injured passenger, you are covered by the insurance companies of the driver of the vehicle you were in as well as the driver of the other car. The party found to be at fault will provide primary coverage and the other will offer supplemental coverage. If there were multiple passengers injured in the crash, supplemental coverage may be necessary after exhausting the first driver’s bodily injury liability coverage.

If one of the drivers is uninsured or underinsured, you may be able to seek financial compensation from your own insurance policy instead. This may include your health insurance policy or medical payment coverage on your car insurance policy. If the crash occurred in the course or scope of your employment, you could be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, as well.

Questions About What to Do After a Car Accident? Call Us

If you or a loved one have been involved in a car crash in Denver or the state of Colorado, then contact the qualified Denver personal injury attorneys at Dormer Harpring. We can explain what to do after a car accident and will stand by your side throughout the claims process. We always offer free initial consultations and work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay no legal fees unless you receive compensation. Call (303) 747-4404 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.