Right after a car accident, you may be shaken up and still trying to figure out what happened. You have to see if anyone was injured, if the car is still drivable, and make sure you're not in danger. Once you are able to pull over to the side of the road and talk to the other driver or drivers involved, you need to get enough information to protect yourself when filing an accident report and insurance claim.
Information for the Accident Report
Drivers in Colorado are required to immediately report any accidents. Under CRS 42-4-1606, drivers involved in traffic accidents resulting in injury, serious bodily injury, death, or any property damage shall give immediate notice of the location of such accident to the nearest office of the duly authorized police authority. Even minor damage, like damage to a mailbox or a dented fender has to be reported.
In minor accidents, the police will usually not show up and you'll have to report the accident on your own. Accidents can be reported online through the Division of Motor Vehicles. Before reporting the accident, you need to collect some important information, including:
- Name of the driver
- Driver's address
- Driver's phone number
- Registration number of the vehicle
- Driver's license
- Insurance information
- License plate number
- Make and model of the vehicle
When to Call Back the Police
Even if the police were not going to respond to the car accident because no one was injured, you may have to call for the police if there are problems with the other driver after the accident. The other driver may be uncooperative or aggressive, refusing to provide information or making threats. Safety should still be your first concern. Contact law enforcement if:
- The other driver is refusing to provide information for the accident report,
- The other driver is making threats,
- The other driver leaves the scene of the accident, or
- The other driver appears to be impaired.
Other Information to Help Your Claim
The other driver's name and insurance information may be necessary but they may not help support your case if the other driver later changes their story. There is other information and evidence you can gather from the scene of the accident to support your case.
Talk to Witnesses
Were there other people around who witnessed the accident? This may include pedestrians walking by, someone waiting at the bus stop, or another driver who pulled over to make sure everyone was okay. These witnesses may have had a unique view of the accident and can back-up your side of the story to show the other driver was distracted at the time of the accident. If you see someone standing by or someone who pulled over, you might want to approach them and ask if they saw what happened.
- Get contact information
- What they saw happen
- Do they know anyone else who witnessed the accident
Even if the witnesses didn't see the accident happen, they may have witnessed other relevant information, like they saw the passenger and driver of the other car switch places before getting out of the car.
Use Your Phone for Photos and Video
Just about everyone has a mobile device in their pocket or bag. The photo and video abilities of phones are pretty advanced, even in bad lighting. After an accident, you can use your phone to take video or photos of the accident, including:
- Scene around the accident
- Weather and lighting conditions
- Damage to your vehicle
- Damage to the other vehicle
- How the vehicles are positioned
- The intersection and streets around the accident
Make Notes Right After the Accident
Your memory may be freshest immediately after an accident. While we like to think our memories are very good, they can fade fast and it is easy to “misremember” things we are sure about at the time. When possible, take notes about what you remember about the accident.
When to Call a Denver Accident Lawyer
Many people do not want to call a lawyer because they think it is not necessary. However, if you were injured in an accident or the other driver is changing their story, you may be facing an uphill battle you don't want to take on alone. By calling a lawyer, you will have someone on your side to deal with the insurance companies so you don't have to.
A lawyer may also be able to get you more compensation to pay for your damages, including vehicle repairs, medical bills, lost wages, and any suffering you had to endure. If you have any questions about what to do after an injury accident in Denver, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible to get started on your case to recover compensation for your injuries. Call 303-642-8888 for a free consultation.