How to protect your legal claim when involved in a car accident.
Car accidents happen unexpectedly. In the aftermath, it's important to know what to do and how you can best protect your rights. If the accident was due to someone else's carelessness, you have the right to be compensated for your injuries and property damage. Seeking appropriate medical attention should be your first priority. However, if your injuries are not serious, you can help protect your claim by documenting as much as you can about scene and events leading up to the accident.
1. Call the police and file an accident report. This is a very crucial part of the documenting your claim. Oftentimes, the person causing the accident will attempt to keep the police out of it. However, if you are injured or your car is damaged, call the police. It's an important step to take in order to protect your rights and future claim.
A police report will provide key documentation regarding the scene of the accident and may include evidence of who is at fault. This carries a great deal of weight with insurance adjusters and claims attorneys. Colorado has a Comparative Negligence Law, which means that juries have the right to consider whether just one, or both parties were at fault, and if so, how much your actions contributed to the accident. For example, if a jury decides that you were 20% at fault for the accident, then your recovery would be limited to 80% of what the jury awards you.
If you are being blamed for the accident, either partially or completely, you may want to talk to an attorney. An effective personal injury attorney will investigate the circumstances of the accident and may be able to find evidence that was not obtained or considered in order to help fight these allegations against you.
2. Talk to witnesses and gather their contact information. Take down the names, phone numbers and addresses of any witnesses and what they observed. Or, you may ask witnesses to talk directly to the police.
3. Photograph the scene of the accident as soon as possible. This includes pictures of the location where the accident occurred (i.e. any traffic lights, stops signs, crosswalks, etc. that may have had an influence on the accident), damage to the vehicles involved, and your injuries.
4. You have a right to not speak with the other party involved in the accident. Please keep in mind that even saying, "I'm sorry" to the other party might be construed as an admission of fault.
5. You have the right to not speak to the other party's insurance investigator. The other party's insurance investigator may contact you shortly after the accident. Please know that you are not required to speak with the other party's insurance investigator. In fact, keep in mind that the other party's insurance company may try to use anything that you tell them against you in your claim. You can always tell them that you wish to speak to an attorney before giving them any statements.
6. Seek medical attention as quickly as possible. The best evidence of the injuries you've sustained from the accident will come from your medical provider's treatment records, medical bills, and doctor's notes. It's important to seek medical treatment quickly, so that your injuries can not be blamed on having been caused by something other than the accident.
7. You have the right to speak to an attorney. A good personal injury attorney can help in many ways to get you a fair settlement. Additionally, having a highly experienced personal injury law firm, such as the Dible Law Firm, on your side can help make your case as strong as possible and help you maximize the value of your case.