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If you have been involved in a car accident, you may be wondering what to do right after the car accident. Knowing what to do after a car accident can help reduce stress. While no one plans to be in an accident, having a plan in mind in case it ever happens can help.
What to do right after a car accident in Denver can vary depending on how serious the car accident was. Some people involved in accidents will require immediate assistance. Once they have been helped, it is time to take care of the next most important things.
Car Accidents Are Common
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were over 36,000 fatal car crashes in 2019. As a result of decreased traffic during the COVID-19 lockdown, total traffic volume decreased by more than 16% in the first half of 2020. As drivers return to the roads this year, drivers should remember the following tips in the event of a car accident.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident
In the event of a car accident, remember to stay calm. Consider the following steps and keep them in mind so that you know what to do right after a car accident.
1. Remain at the Scene
Car accidents can be frightening, and we all have a fight or flight response that may make us want to flee the scene. However, fleeing a scene may not only be irresponsible, it may have major legal consequences. In some states, it is a crime and may be punishable by fines or jail time. Some states require that you pull over after a car accident and assess damages as well as exchange information with the other driver involved.
It is important to stay at the scene until the police are called. You should always file a police report, even for minor accidents.
2. Call for Help
Call the police and wait for them to arrive. Allow the police to document the scene. Having a police report on file will also be useful in the future should you need to file a claim. Police can also help direct traffic out of the way after a car accident to make sure another accident does not occur.
If there are any injuries, dial 911 immediately. Calling 911 will dispatch the police to the scene as well as medical assistance. Once the police arrive, they can also assist you in gathering information from the other driver and mediate the situation if tensions are high.
3. Exchange Information
It is important to remember to exchange information with the other driver before leaving the scene. At a minimum, collect their insurance information. This should include the policy number and the name of the insurance company.
Collect the personal information of the other driver, if possible. This includes their name and their phone number. If they are not willing to cooperate, wait for the police to arrive and have them assist you in collecting this information.
Since the insurance company of the other driver will handle the claim, it is important to collect this information at the scene of the accident. If the other driver is obeying the law, they will be carrying insurance. All states require a minimum level of insurance to drive.
4. Collect Evidence
In addition to collecting personal information from the other driver, remember to also document the scene of the crash. This includes collecting evidence that may be helpful in a claim for damages later. Evidence to collect includes taking pictures of both vehicles, the surrounding area where the accident took place, and any injuries you may have. Keep a record of the road or weather conditions that may have contributed to the accident.
Collecting evidence will help you remember what happened later. Some information may become important in a lawsuit, and it will be easier to record your version of the events immediately after the car accident.
5. Seek Medical Treatment
Always seek medical treatment after a car accident, even if you do not think you are injured. Adrenaline or shock after a car accident may mask an injury. Sometimes, injuries that are minor could get worse over time. Other injuries, such as internal bleeding or concussions, may not be visible at all and will require a medical diagnosis.
Documenting injuries will be important should you choose to file a claim later. Seeking medical treatment immediately after a car accident will make documenting later injuries easier. This will help ensure you receive the maximum compensation possible for all injures.
Several things you should not do after a car accident
Knowing what NOT to do immediately after you have been involved in a car accident is just as important as remembering what you should do. Keep these things in mind also as you begin to deal with everything, trying to protect yourself and your loved ones from what follows a car accident.
Do Not Admit Fault
While it may be tempting to apologize after a car accident, even if you were not at fault, this may be perceived as admitting fault. Admitting fault will not benefit you. You should allow your attorney to handle the case and make statements on your behalf, if necessary.
Do not admit fault at the scene or in any recorded statement to the police or insurance companies. Admitting fault will put you at a disadvantage and could diminish or destroy your claim. Be sure to speak with a Denver car accident attorney first.
Do Not Sign a Release Form or Waiver
Some insurance companies will get you to sign a release form shortly after a car accident. Do not sign anything without first speaking with an attorney. An insurance company will often try to get you to agree to a settlement offer that is much lower than what you could receive after you fully assess your damages.
You may feel tempted to accept a payment right away and they may even make you feel like you have to sign release forms. You do not have to sign the release forms and you should avoid agreeing to any settlement offer until you know the extent of your injuries or damages. An experienced lawyer can help assist you with this process.
Do Not Speak to an Insurance Adjuster
Whether it is your insurance adjuster or the other party’s insurance adjuster, do not give them a recorded statement until you have spoken to an attorney. You do not have to provide a recorded statement, and you especially do not need to speak with the other party’s insurance company.
Insurance adjusters represent the insurance company and their job is to pay you as little as possible. They do not have your best interests in mind and will try to diminish your claim pay out as little as possible. It is important to speak with an experienced car accident attorney first because they will represent you and serve your best interests.
Do Not Delay in Filing a Claim
In most states, there is a time limit for filing personal injury claims called the statute of limitations. In Denver, the time limit for a car accident claim is three years. After this time limit has passed, you will no longer be able to bring a claim for your damages. Therefore, it is important to file a claim as soon as possible.
Filing a claim as soon as possible gives you the best chance at recovering all of your damages in a timely manner. If you hire an attorney to help you, the other driver or their insurance company will not be allowed to contact you, but must speak directly to your attorney instead, which will relieve your stress in handling the claim.
Hire a Denver Car Accident Attorney
You may be wondering, if your car accident was minor, “Do I need a car accident attorney?” Some people may find hiring an attorney to be unnecessary or expensive. However, personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will not have to pay anything out of pocket unless your case is won.
An attorney can help you negotiate with insurance company adjusters and can help guide you to determine what compensation might apply to you. The sooner you hire an attorney, the more beneficial it will be. Be honest with your attorney and be sure to tell them all of the details of your car accident. Once your attorney knows all of the facts, he or she will know how to proceed appropriately to defend your claim.
Get Help from Denver Car Crash Lawyers
At Zinda Law Group, our car accident attorneys in Denver are experienced and have handled many cases involving car crashes. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you determine what to do next and to help recover the best possible outcome for your case.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.