VanMeveren Law Group June 2018

Foundations 9 7 0 Your First Steps WhatYouNeedtoDoAfteraCarAccident

Coloradoans were involved in 26,978 reported motor vehicle crashes last year. While that was a slight decrease from 2016, that’s still almost 74 reported collisions each day. Undoubtedly, many crashes go unreported, so these figures are much lower than the real numbers. The following are some important reminders to consider if you become one of the statistics and are forced to deal with the aftermath of a car crash. Following a car accident, the first thing you should do, if you’re able, is pull over to the side of the road, but only when you’re able to do so safely. No matter the severity of the collision or the damage, call 911 and report the crash. Leaving the scene of an accident without notifying authorities may result in serious criminal and civil legal consequences. After you are safely out of the flow of traffic, assess the damage to you, your passengers, and your vehicle. Take as many pictures as you can of the scene and damage. If there are witnesses, try to get their contact information for later reference. Exchange information with the other party. Get their name, phone numbers, and auto insurance information. This also applies if the other party is a cyclist or pedestrian. If the other “party” is an unattended vehicle or property, attempt to find the owner and follow the same steps. Always leave a note with your contact information. Again, don’t forget to report the accident to authorities. Drivers are legally required to report car accidents, whether the injuries and damage are significant or not. Reporting the accident is easy to do if a police officer arrives on the scene. They will guide you through it.

within a reasonable time period, the insurer may deny coverage for the accident. Always be sure to review your auto policy so you know your exact reporting requirements. In any event, it’s in your best interest to report a car crash to your insurer just to make sure your coverage is not jeopardized by failing to report the accident in a timely manner. Once you do make the report, cooperate with your insurer. You have the right to file a claim under your policy as a result of damage to your car as long as you have collision coverage, and an insurance adjuster may opt to inspect your vehicle personally. At the same time, you’re under no legal obligation to cooperate, sign documents, or give a statement to the opposing driver’s insurer. As such, be wary of “friendly” calls from investigators and adjusters representing the other driver. Depending on your coverage, your insurance may also pay for some or all of your medical bills. However, you may be asked to sign a waiver giving the insurer access to your medical history. With that in mind, it’s wise to contact an experienced injury attorney before signing any insurance forms or medical authorizations. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation with little or no recourse. Motor vehicle collisions are stressful events and a huge inconvenience, whether they’re minor or major. Having an experienced attorney on your side to help navigate the situation can make a world of difference. Unfortunately, the statistics show that eventually you too may be involved in a collision, so it’s critical to keep these steps in mind. –Bryan VanMeveren

The officer will file a report with the Department of Motor Vehicles and you will not need to file an accident report unless you receive a letter from the DMV asking you to do so. Should no officer be present following the accident, you need to report it to the nearest police station or sheriff’s office as soon as possible. Should the driver not be able to contact law enforcement right after a crash, any passenger who was in the vehicle at the time of the collision must make the report — again, only if they are capable of doing so. If you do not report the accident, you may face consequences. Failure to report a car accident in Colorado is a Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense. This is punishable by up to 90 days in prison or a $300 fine, or both. When it comes to your insurance company, however, things may operate differently. There is no Colorado law that requires a driver or owner to report a car accident to their insurance company. That said, many insurance contracts require the insured to report the accident as soon as possible. The sooner the insurer knows about the accident, the sooner they can start investigating the claim. If the insured driver or owner fails to report an accident

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