Car accidents can happen to even the safest drivers. A moment of inattention, extreme weather conditions or another driver's negligence can change your life in a moment. The seconds following a car accident are distorted and disorienting, so it's important to have thought through the scenario ahead of time. If you're ever involved in a car accident in Colorado, here are some do's and don'ts to keep in mind.
Don't: Leave the Scene
Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime and can result in serious penalties, especially if people are injured. Stay where you are, move out of danger and assist other motorists. Call 911 if anyone requires medical attention.
Do: Exchange Information
Colorado law requires that you provide certain information to other parties involved in an accident. This includes:
- Name and contact information
- Car insurance information
Don't: Forget To Take Pictures
Memories are notoriously hazy in the aftermath of a car accident, so pictures will help you establish exactly what happened for the resulting insurance investigation. The more pictures, the better. If it's safe to do so, photograph the damage on all vehicles involved (not just yours), skid marks, traffic signals, intersections, surrounding terrain and anything else that might be relevant. Remember that you can never have too much documentation.
Do: Report The Accident To The Police
If the other driver is uninsured, they will sometimes ask that you skip calling the police and settle the matter on your own. Don't do this. Always notify law enforcement after any collision, since an officer will come to the scene and file an Accident Report with the DMV, which is an important piece of evidence.
Sometimes police officers won't be available to respond to your accident. In this case, the law requires that you file an Accident Report yourself, provided that these criteria are met:
- There were no fatalities.
- No one sustained injuries requiring medical attention.
- All drivers remained on the scene. You must report hit-and-runs to the police.
- None of the drivers were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- All drivers have insurance.
- There was no damage to public property (except possibly wildlife).
If all of these statements are true, you can file the Accident Report online, or else mail it in.
Do: Seek Medical Treatment
Injuries from car accidents may not show up until days or weeks afterwards. If you feel any unusual aches or soreness, seek medical treatment immediately. Gaps in treatment can weaken your insurance claim, so be sure to follow the doctor's orders thoroughly and perform the full course of follow-up treatment, even if you're already starting to feel better. Not only will you recover as fully as possible, you'll protect your legal rights as well.
Car accidents are an unfortunate reality of modern life, especially in states with elk and deer crossing mountain roads. However, if you know what to do, you'll know what steps to take following the accident.