Five Things to Do After a Car Accident in Colorado
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Car accidents are commonplace—we hear about them every day. In some cases, their impact can be relatively mundane and inconsequential; in others, they can be truly devastating and catastrophic. In all cases, it is important that you know your rights and what steps to take to ensure maximum recovery, both physical and financial.
The dedicated personal injury attorneys at Zinda Law Group can help you better understand your rights and options going forward. We believe our clients in Colorado deserve excellent representation in their times of need, and we pride ourselves in providing that representation. Our clients pay nothing unless we win their case; so if you or a loved one were injured in a car accident anywhere in Colorado, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with our experienced Colorado personal injury attorneys.
Car accident statistics
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), an estimated total of 42,060 deaths occurred in 2020 as a result of motor-vehicle accidents; this represents an 11.9% increase from the previous year despite a 13% drop in miles driven as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The NSC further estimates that 4,795,000 nonfatal, medically-consulted injuries occurred in 2020. In total, these accidents cost an estimated $474.4 billion in deaths, injuries, and property damage.
Unfortunately, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in Colorado, according to the state’s Department of Transportation. The Department reports that the number of deaths from motor vehicle crashes in the state has been on the rise since 2011, resulting in 648 deaths in 2017. Speeding, alcohol impairment, and failure to wear a seat belt are leading factors.
Speeding was involved in 35% of accidents and alcohol impairment was involved in 27%. Of all the people who died in a car accident, 53% were unrestrained in their vehicle. As the nation returns to pre-pandemic levels of driving, these statistics make clear that road and traffic safety remains important as ever.
understanding the route to compensation
Dealing with the aftermath of auto accidents can be daunting; in particular, many people struggle to understand the legal parameters of their case. During our initial, free consultations with potential clients, Zinda Law Group offers personalized, detailed consultation about the options available to them; meanwhile, here is the basic groundwork of a personal injury case from a legal perspective. The next section then contextualizes this legal groundwork by discussing what do after a car accident in Colorado.
First, it is helpful to understand the concept of negligence, the most common cause of action in personal injury cases. It is predicated on the notion that we each owe each other a duty to use “reasonable care” in our actions to minimize the risk that we cause each other harm. Because the collective safety of all drivers and passengers is based on each individual driver’s safe (or unsafe) driving practices, this concept makes a great deal of sense on roadways.
When a plaintiff brings a negligence case, they are essentially arguing that the defendant failed to use reasonable care. Specifically, showing negligence requires proving that:
1. A legal duty was owed by the defendant to the plaintiff.
2. The defendant breached that duty.
3. The plaintiff suffered an injury.
4. The plaintiff’s injury was caused by the defendant’s breach.
This may seem simple in theory. Indeed, a defendant’s violation of their duty to use “reasonable care” sometimes really is obvious. However, not all cases are so straightforward, and a closer look at the facts is often necessary; the Colorado injury lawyers at Zinda Law Group can help you evaluate the facts of your case.
Kinds of Compensation
Second, you should understand the basic forms of compensation available in a personal injury case. There are two primary forms, economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those that can be reduced to a tangible monetary value. For example, medical bills, pharmacy bills, loss of income (both present and future), and lost earning capacity are all examples of economic damages. To prove economic damages, you should keep good track of all bills associated with treating your injuries.
Non-economic damages refer to those that cannot be reduced to a monetary value; among other things, this includes your pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of companionship after the loss of a loved one (legally referred to as “loss of consortium”). Medical treatment records can go a long way in proving non-economic damages, but these records may not be enough to explain the full extent of your pain and suffering to a judge and jury. Our Colorado personal injury lawyers can help you tell your story compellingly, in full, and from your perspective.
Statute of Limitations
Third, you should be aware of the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a another simple but very important concept. It simply sets the maximum amount of time that may elapse after an accident before a plaintiff may file their case.
In Colorado, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is set at two years from the time of the incident. In other words, once the accident takes place, a plaintiff must bring their case within two years or not at all.
Two years may seem like a long time. However, do not wait until the two year window is near closing before bringing your case. The more time that elapses from the accident date, the more compromised evidence may become and the less you may rely on the memory of witnesses. You should speak with an attorney early on to ensure optimum results.
five things to do after a car accident in Colorado
Bearing the legal groundwork discussed above in mind, there are a few basic things you should do after being involved in an auto accident. Some pertain to your physical recovery, some to the eventual success of your journey toward compensation, and some to both.
1. Seek Medical Attention
Of course, your wellbeing is the top priority in any accident. Therefore, seeking medical attention is listed at the top of this list even though it may not be your immediate first step in every accident. Of course, in serious accidents, immediate medical attention is essential and any subsequent steps must wait.
That said, even in cases where your injuries are not severe or life threatening, you should not discount their impact on your wellbeing or on your case. Even if you feel fine after the collision, there is the possibility that you have suffered internal or serious injuries that may take longer to present themselves.
One common car-accident injury whose impact may manifest well after the accident is whiplash, which occurs when your head is jerked violently due to the impact, in a manner resembling the motion of a whip being cracked. This kind of motion can cause long-term injury to the neck that may not be immediately apparent. Because injuries from whiplash may be late manifesting, victims of car accidents are often stereotyped as exaggerating this kind of injury, but its negative impact should not be underestimated.
In addition to ensuring your physical recovery, the medical treatment phase of your recovery is also important for its evidentiary potential. You will need evidence to argue your case, and the medical treatment and billing records created by your healthcare providers will serve as key sources of evidence. This is another reason you should not discount the impact of any injuries, no matter how small; whatever is not detected and recorded by your healthcare providers may be difficult to prove by other means.
2. Report the Accident
After assessing your injuries and the situation immediately after the accident, report the accident. The crash report filed with the police will serve as a first official record documenting the accident and as another important source of evidence. Even if the accident is not serious and the police are not called to the scene, the police report remains important and should still be filed.
The sooner the report is filed, the better. This helps ensure that nothing from the immediate scene of the accident is forgotten or overlooked. Consider requesting a copy of the report as soon as possible, for it will give you an opportunity to evaluate its accuracy.
3. Exchange Information
Before leaving the scene of the accident, be sure to identify all drivers involved in the accident. Collect each driver’s name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver’s license number, and license plate number.
In addition to other involved drivers, identify any witnesses; collect their name and contact information. The corroborating testimony of a third-party witness is sometimes pivotal evidence. Oftentimes they may even have seen something that entirely escaped your view; for example, you may not have taken note of a speeding driver if they ran into you from behind, but a witness farther back along the road may be able to provide that perspective.
4. Document the Scene
If it is safe to do so, you should also take the opportunity to document the scene of the accident. Evidence of things like road conditions, inclement weather, or driver impairment often do not survive long after the accident. Therefore, your notes and personal footage—videos, photographs, and audio—may also turn out to be extremely valuable.
Take pictures of the road, the vehicles involved, your injuries, and anything else you think may reveal important information. Even a screenshot of your weather app showing the conditions at your location at the exact time of the accident can become useful to your case.
5. Hire an Attorney
Finally, you may need to file a lawsuit to recover adequate compensation; an experienced car accident attorney near you can help in a number of ways. They can evaluate your case, navigate the law, and create a strategy for negotiation and litigation; they can also help you understand your rights and options going forward. Even if your case does not ultimately go to trial, an experienced Colorado attorney can help you negotiate a fair and satisfactory settlement.
Insurance companies often present an unexpected pitfall for auto-accident victims. On the one hand, you should file a claim with the relevant insurance companies soon after the accident. This puts them on notice and puts any suspicion to rest as to why you might not have immediately filed a claim.
On the other hand, victims often turn to insurance companies assuming they have your best interest at heart or that they will invariably be forthright in assessing your case. Unfortunately, insurance companies generally prioritize their own bottom line before the wellbeing of accident victims. Even your own insurance company is not neutral.
Remember, anything you say to an insurance company can be used against you in litigation. Therefore, never sign forms or waivers provided by an insurance company and never admit fault before consulting with an attorney. Having an experienced attorney who has committed to advocating for you evaluate your case first can ensure that you are being treated fairly.
Read More: How to Negotiate with an Insurance Company
Let our colorado car accident lawyers HELP YOU
Because they happen every day, we do not always fully appreciate the potential seriousness of auto accidents until they happen to us. However, because car accidents happen quickly and unexpectedly, we are often left fumbling as we begin to deal with their aftermath. To ensure that you receive the maximum compensation available to you, it may ultimately be necessary to consult with an experienced attorney; our Colorado injury lawyers are here to help.
At Zinda Law Group, we believe that no victim of an auto accident should have to worry about their ability to afford excellent legal representation. Tell us about your case, and we will tell you how we can help you seek maximum compensation for your injuries and property damage. Our clients pay nothing unless we win their case; that is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.