There Are Crucial Steps To Follow After An Accident

If you have questions about what to do after an auto accident, we invite you to click on any of the questions below to find out the answer.

For more specific answers to your questions, please contact Doehling Law to set up a free consultation at our Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, Montrose or Aspen office to speak with our experienced legal team.

These questions will also contain answers to other relevant questions and concerns you may have.

What Information Should I Obtain?

After everyone is out of danger and any medical and police help has been summoned, obtain the following:

  • The full names, phone numbers, addresses and insurance information for all drivers, passengers, pedestrians and witnesses involved in the accident
  • The drivers' license numbers and addresses of all of the drivers
  • If any of the drivers appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, notify police or other emergency personnel immediately

In addition, you should make observations and record notes about the following:

  • How did the accident occur?
  • Did any person involved in the accident immediately report any injuries to first responders or anyone else?
  • Was medical assistance rendered at the scene of the accident?
  • What was the actual location of the accident?
  • In what direction were the vehicles traveling just prior to the accident?
  • At what time of day did the accident occur?
  • What were the weather conditions at the time of the accident?
  • Was there anything "wrong" with any of the vehicles before the accident, such as a broken headlight, brake light, signal, flat tire, etc.?
  • Was there any damage to the vehicles as a result of the accident?
  • Were any of the vehicles towed from the scene of the accident?
  • Did anyone accept responsibility for the accident, and what comments were made?
  • Did the police come? If so, did they issue anyone a ticket? Which officers were present? What are their names and badge numbers?
  • Were any of the drivers involved in driving while working, or driving a company-owned vehicle?

Should I Call The Police?

Yes. It is important to contact the police immediately if you are involved in a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident or any other kind of motor vehicle accident. Reporting the accident to the authorities will provide proof of the accident and will allow for an immediate investigation of the scene of the accident by a neutral third party — law enforcement.

The police will also take statements of witnesses and examine the other drivers to check for drug or alcohol use. The police can also be valuable witnesses to your injuries at the scene; they can assist in securing an admission of fault from the negligent driver, and they can issue traffic tickets for infractions that led to the accident, which can be additional proof of negligence.

Even in minor accidents, resist the temptation to "keep things simple" by "settling up" with the other driver on the spot. You should get checked out by a doctor for any injuries, even if you feel fine.

Do I Need To Take Pictures Of The Accident Scene And Preserve Other Evidence?

Definitely. Even if the police take photos, you should try to take as many pictures from as many different angles as soon as possible after the accident. Take photos of the accident location, the vehicles involved, various approaches to the accident scene and of the persons involved, particularly if they have suffered an injury.

Also, taking photos of the accident and roadway can also capture vital evidence such as "impending" skid marks. Tires do not immediately lockup and change from rolling tires to skidding tires. During the braking process, a tire begins to leave an imprint on the roadway before actually skidding. These marks are "impending" skid marks and are faint marks that can normally be seen on the roadway for only 24 to 48 hours after a collision. An impending skid and a skid mark, when taken together, give a more accurate record of the actual speed of a car before braking.

You should try to preserve as much from the accident scene as possible to prevent it from being lost, destroyed, sold or otherwise compromised. If the evidence is removed to another location, it is important to put everyone on notice by certified mail, including owners, tow operators, wrecking yards, police impounds and others so that they take every step to preserve important evidence. Failure to do so will subject them to being sued for allowing evidence to be destroyed.

Our firm also works with investigators and other expert personnel who often can rush to the scene of any serious accident and preserve and document valuable evidence before it is lost.

Should I Go To The Doctor?

Never hesitate to get checked out by medical professionals after an accident even when you feel okay. Many times, the onset of physical complaints begins 12 to 24 hours after an accident. For instance, even if you did walk away only feeling "shaken up" after being rear-ended in a truck accident, the following morning, when you get out of bed, it may be a different story.

You should definitely seek immediate medical attention if you feel any pain or discomfort or are seriously injured in any type of automobile accident. Many people hope that their pain will go away on its own and wait for several weeks before finally succumbing and going to the doctor. Waiting to get treatment is not only not good for your health — it will hurt your chances of obtaining an appropriate settlement for your injuries, since there will be no medical record of your injury at the time of the accident. Seeing a doctor following the accident will ensure a preliminary diagnosis and perhaps minimize the discomfort and future treatment you may need.

Follow the doctor's advice to the letter and never miss a doctor's appointment or seeing a recommended specialist. Do not substitute your judgment for that of an experienced medical professional. If you do, it will be used against you in court.

When Should I Contact A Personal Injury Attorney?

After leaving the scene of an accident, or while still there if you are safely able, you should immediately contact an attorney who is experienced in handling personal injury matters. When you contact Doehling Law, we will promptly arrange for an attorney to consult with you free of charge so we can immediately start to take action on your behalf, while all of the evidence is still "fresh."

If necessary and feasible, we will have an investigator conduct a thorough analysis of the accident scene so that no evidence goes undetected.

Should I Contact My Insurance Company?

Most auto insurance companies require their policyholders to notify them promptly after someone is involved in an auto accident. Your insurance company will want to gather all of the basic information concerning the accident for its records — whether you are at fault or not. Sometimes the insurance company will seek your authorization to make a recorded statement concerning the accident.

We suggest that if you or your passengers were injured in the accident, or if you believe the insurance company might try to claim you are not covered or you have any concerns about the adequacy of your coverage, you should contact us before you go any further, including giving permission to record your conversation.

You should never give a statement to the other driver's insurance company without consulting with an attorney to protect your rights and future chances of recovering compensation.

Should I Talk To The Other Driver's Insurance Company? What If They Call Me?

Never give an oral statement to the other side's insurance company before talking to your own counsel or having them present.

If you do talk to them before seeking advice of a Colorado personal injury lawyer, you will regret it. If you are contacted, be polite, but decline to talk by saying, "Thank you for calling. I am not prepared to discuss this matter with you at this time."

Insurance companies' claims adjusters are professional negotiators. They have extensive experience using every psychological technique to maneuver you into giving information that can hurt your claim, including discouraging you from using the professional services of a lawyer.

Contact Us Today For More Help

At Doehling Law, we take auto accident cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not pay attorney fees unless we obtain a recovery for you, either through a settlement or a court verdict. Call 970-628-3907 to schedule a free initial appointment.