I’ve Been in An Accident. What Should I Do?

Accidents happen every day in every state, and Colorado is no different. If you have never been in an accident, you may not know what is expected of you following an accident.

First things first, it is important that you call emergency services if there is anyone on the scene with injuries. If you can move out of the way or onto the shoulder or side street safely, you can do this and assess injuries. If safety allows, take photographs of the vehicles involved in the car accident before the vehicles are moved from the roadway. It is especially important to take photographs of the accident scene and the positions of the vehicle positions where they came to rest following the accident. You can then move the cars, take close up photos of the damage to each vehicle, and assess for injuries. If anyone involved has been hurt, call 911.

Calling the police to report the accident is important for several reasons. A police report helps in many ways: having a neutral third-party assess the accident and make observations. What are the roadway conditions during the accident? Did the weather play a factor? What was traffic like leading up to the accident? Police officers can also help facilitate medical care or assess damages and note their findings within their report.

Take pictures or videos of the scene. This evidence should include pictures or video of the scene, the cars involved, and the damages.

Should I Discuss the Accident With Others?

While still on the scene, it is essential to reach out to others who may have witnessed the accident and can give their account of what led up to the accident. Get their contact information so you can reach out later if you need to. Even if the police arrive at the scene and talk to witnesses, they do not always get the witness’ contact information, so it is important that you obtain this information yourself.

Exchange insurance information with the other driver and see if you can get a picture of their license plate while you get images of the cars involved in case they falsify their information.

Speak with the responding police officer to ensure that your account of what happened is recorded, not just the other people at the scene. Having the police at the scene ensures all versions of what happened are properly documented. Even if someone admits fault at the scene, they may change their story later (which happens more than you would think). Having a police officer at the scene who documents the events makes it more difficult for a person to change their description of events at a later date.

Do I Need to File a Police Report to Make an Insurance Claim?

The short answer is no. You are not required to file a police report to proceed with an insurance claim. It is important to have a police report, however, as it helps to establish fault through the eyes of a neutral third party and cover details in the report that you may have missed by just gathering information on your own.

You will be required to collect more information regarding your accident than you had if you had filed a police report. For example, a police report requires both parties to share their driver’s license information, address, and other contact information. If you don’t file a police report, you must gather this information and verify that it is correct. Oftentimes an individual who does not have insurance will give you a fake insurance card and you will have no way to verify it if the police do not arrive at the scene.

Why is it Important to Establish Fault After a Car Accident In Colorado?

Colorado operates as a “Fault state,” which means that the person found at fault for causing the accident is responsible for covering the damages. Colorado also follows a modified comparative negligence rule. Modified Comparative Negligence is a legal framework that allows the court to determine the degree of fault, proportion of damages, and compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. Colorado is one of the states that adopt this model to decide personal injury claims. Under this rule, you are entitled to recover an equal share of compensation as long as your share of liability is less than 51 percent. This means the court will assign a percentage of fault to each party involved in the accident and determine the amount of compensation for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

For example, if you are in an accident with another driver and are found to be 20% at fault, the other driver is found to be 80% at fault. The total damages would be reduced by 20% before being awarded based on your being partially at fault.

Fault can be established in many ways. Through reviews of the pictures or videos from the scene, eyewitness statements, vehicle damages, information on the police report, accident recreation, and more. It is imperative to have as much information as possible to ensure that you are not mistakenly found at fault for the accident occurring and responsible for the damages.

What Types of Damages Can I Recover After a Car Accident?

Damages can include the costs incurred for medical expenses, follow-up treatment that was prescribed, lost wages, repairing damages to the vehicle, and more. It is best practice to keep detailed evidence of all costs you incurred and the amount of time you had to miss work to recover those expenses and losses.

Non-economic damages may also be recovered, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and more. A skilled injury attorney can help you calculate non-economic damages so you can accurately request compensation.

Fierce Advocates for What is Rightfully Yours

While you don’t need to file a police report to proceed with an insurance claim, having a report helps you and your attorneys fight to get you adequately compensated for your injuries. As discussed above, there are several reasons why it is important to have a police report to pursue damages. If you have a police report, your responsibility to gather information is lessened, as most of the information is provided in the police report.

Another reason to ensure you have a police report is if you file a suit against the other party, there may be scrutiny of your decision to avoid the police report. It may affect the validity of your case, depending on how you can overcome questions about why you chose to forego a police report. You can also seek evidence and testimony during trial from the responding officer if you file a police report, and you would be without this added evidence without one.

Even if you call the police and they tell you that it will be a long time before they arrive, be patient and wait – it may save you headaches in the long run.

With years of experience in helping clients pursue damages after an accident, we are confident that we can also assist you. From helping you gather evidence, negotiating with insurance companies or other relevant parties after the accident, and representing you in court, we are prepared to be your fierce advocate and ensure you are compensated accordingly for the damages incurred.

Call our office at (303) 331-6460 for a confidential consultation and to discuss your options.