What are your odds of being in an accident? The Traffic Safety Facts Annual Report for 2017 shows that there were over 6.4 million car accidents that year. That accounts only for accidents that were reported to the police. Some accidents go unreported. With 225 million licensed drivers on the road and 290 million registered vehicles, the odds of being in a car crash aren’t shockingly high, but there is always that risk.
If you’re in a car crash, knowing what to do next is very important. How you handle things depends on the cause of the accident. If another driver caused the accident and you were not at all to blame, you will feel differently to a crash caused by a wild animal running in front of your car. No matter what causes the accident, there are five things you must do as soon as possible.
- Stop your car out of traffic if you can.
- Swap information with others involved in the accident.
- Seek medical care.
- Call your insurance company.
- Talk to a car accident attorney.
#1 – Stopping Your Car
Do not try to leave the scene of an accident. It can result in fines and possibly jail time. Stop your car or wait for the momentum following the crash to end. If your car is drivable and you’re able, pull as far off the road as you can.
Don’t get out of your car. You’re in shock and likely to want to get out. You really need to make sure you haven’t injured your neck and back. If possible wait for paramedics to assess you. Call 911 and a family member or friend who can be there to offer support at the scene. That person you call could help out by taking photos of the scene and cars.
#2 – Swap Information
If you’re okay and able to walk around, talk to witnesses. Don’t ask what they’ve seen. Ask if you can have their phone number and name to give to your insurance agent. If you can’t walk around, have your friend or family member do this for you.
You should also get any other driver’s insurance and contact information after you’ve been checked out. If that’s not possible, have someone do it for you. If you can’t get anyone else to come to the scene, the police will do this as part of the accident report.
#3 – Seek Medical Care
You may have been cleared at the scene, but it’s a good idea to see your doctor or go to immediate care to be checked. EMTs have some medical training, but a doctor has years of training and expertise.
You may be fine, but if you have a concussion or internal injuries, it’s best to get looked over and get instructions on what to watch for at home. If you do have a concussion, you should have someone stay with you for a night or two. Make sure they know the warning signs to watch for.
#4 – Call Your Insurance Company
State laws vary. In many states, the driver that caused the accident is responsible. That driver’s insurance will pay for your medical bills, car repairs or replacement, loss of work, etc. There are a handful of states that follow no-fault insurance laws. This means that your insurance company will pay for some of your injuries, even if another driver is to blame.
When you call your insurance company, you’ll need the names and numbers of witnesses, the police officer, and other drivers or people involved in the car accident. You’ll need the accident report number. The insurance company’s representative will ask you to give as much detail as possible regarding the crash. All of this information is used to determine exactly what happened.
In a “fault” state like Colorado, you’ll also be dealing with the other driver’s insurance. Your agent may call them for you, but you’ll spend some time talking to them directly. Again, they’ll want to hear your side and collect as much information as they can.
They will ask where your car is so that they can evaluate the damages and decide if it is feasible to repair your car or if you need to purchase a new one. They will ask for any medical bills, how much time you’ll miss work or school while you recuperate, and if there was property damage. This information helps them build a settlement offer. Once there’s a settlement offer, it’s up to you whether you accept that amount or not.
#5 – Call an Attorney
Colorado follows “fault” insurance laws. In this case, modified comparative fault is used when deciding who is responsible. If it’s found that you are 25% blame and the other driver is 75% to blame, your award would be reduced by 25%. It can be tricky understanding this, and that’s why you should contact an attorney who specializes in car accidents. The settlement offer the insurance company presents to you may not come close to covering the emotional and physical toll the accident has on your daily routines.
When you speak to an attorney at Jordan Law, you’re getting years of experience in personal injury and car accident claims. Make this the very next call after you’ve provided your insurance company with the information regarding the accident. There’s no risk and you’ll better understand your rights. When the settlement offer arrives, you’ll have an expert’s advice as to whether that’s a fair offer given the circumstances. Call (303) 647-3031 for a free consultation.