Like a lot of metro regions across the U.S., roadways in Denver handle high-volume traffic daily. In fact, studies have shown a spike in drivers throughout the Denver area over the last few years. Unfortunately, as motor vehicle usage increases, so does the likelihood of motor accidents. Some auto accidents are nothing more than fender benders that can generally be handled through direct contact with insurance. Unfortunately, however, a growing number of collisions involve physical injury, fatality, or other significant damages. These types of accidents often leave victims and their families traumatized and uncertain about the steps to follow. Review the content to understand how to avoid mistakes after an accident.
Some people attempt to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company on their own behalf. This can be damaging in the end because insurance adjuster are hired to minimize the payouts on claims. In addition, many injuries do not even manifest until weeks or months down the road. If a claim is resolved before a victim realizes the extent of their injuries, the settlement will not properly take into account future complications. Thus, consulting an experienced Denver personal injury lawyer is essential. In addition, victims should consider these mistakes to avoid following an accident.
Many accident victims think they can shake it off following an accident. This is especially true in minor collisions. You should be seen by a health care provider immediately. Many serious injuries, especially to the structures of the back and neck, might not be apparent for hours and even days after a collision. If you have a substantial injury not apparent to you, it is critical it be diagnosed and treated. You need doctors to begin documenting your injuries right away. Insurance companies love the argument that you would have gotten medical attention right away if you were really hurt. Failing to get help right away will make it difficult to convince adjusters or juries that you have a serious injury.
Failing to Call the Police
There is never a good reason to not contact the police. More importantly, it is against the law in Colorado to not call the police when a collision involves injuries. Sometimes, the negligent party will plead with you not to report the accident. They will profess their fault and tell you how sorry they are. No matter how tempted you might be to help them out of a jam, do not do it! Consider the possibility the wrongdoer gives false information or lies to their insurance company about how the collision occurred. By having the accident properly investigated by a police officer, you can discourage this kind of behavior.
Putting anything in writing after an accident is a bad idea. Shortly after an accident, you will likely receive a series of documents from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Before thinking about signing anything the insurance company sends you, consult with an attorney to help review the documents and discuss their purpose. The primary factor used to determine the value of your claim will be your injuries and treatment. If you sign a medical release, the insurance company will have access to your medical history, past and present, and that could mean you are putting your claim at risk, perhaps leaving you with nothing.
Admitting fault means you are accepting full liability for the automobile accident. Instead of affirming the accident was your fault, you should let the police conduct their investigation. Try to state the facts as you remember them. The true cause of the accident may be something you are not aware of, like a driver who suddenly slammed on the brakes. The police report plays a key role in helping the insurance companies figure out what happened. Because the police’s official version of what transpired is more reliable than the versions of those involved (which may conflict with one another and reflect personal biases), insurance companies use the police report to get a clear idea of who erred.
Turning Down Medical Treatment
If you feel you may have an injury, no matter how minor, you should be medically examined and treated. It can take hours, days, or even weeks for some effects of an accident to be completely revealed. Car accidents cause serious shock to a person’s body. Chemicals within our body can mask pain and discomfort for a significant amount of time after a high-stress incident like a car accident. Any blow to your head or trauma to your spine can be very serious. It is important to pay attention to your body and get medical attention if there is any indication something is not right. At the very least, you will know whether something is wrong.
Hiding Accidents or Medical History
Insurance companies maintain huge databases of information they share with each other. Your lawyer and medical providers do not have this luxury. If you fail to inform or misrepresent your history, all credibility will be lost. It is important the parties who want to help you have a complete picture of your previous accident and health history. Do not withhold information from your treating physicians because you think it is unimportant, irrelevant, or will not come up. Having prior accidents or injuries does not mean you are not entitled to full recovery for the harm done to you.
Pain and suffering can be the biggest element of damages. Complaining about or pretending to be worse than you really are is a serious mistake. You will not fool the insurance company or a jury. Although rare, insurance companies have hired private investigators to follow claimants around with a video camera. If you claim your back injury prevents you from lifting and playing with your infant child, do not go to the grocery store and carry away 50 pound bags of dog food. Your credibility will be destroyed and your claim will be impacted. Do not pretend to be injured.
Failing to Return to Work When Able
Most victims return to work sooner than they should because of bills. If your doctor advised you to stay out of work, it is important to listen to his medical opinion. If a doctor did not advise you to stay out of work, you will have a difficult time proving you should be compensated for your time off. If you feel you cannot work, talk to your doctor and explain what your job requires. If you doctor agrees with you, insist on a note. Whether or not you need it for your employer, you will likely need it for your case. After you are done treating for your injuries, your lawyer will present lost wage information to the insurance company.
Failing to Keep Records
Your lawyer will collect your medical records and bills and, when appropriate, submit them to the insurance company with your settlement demand. It is important you keep copies of your bills. Keep track of the names, addresses, phone numbers, and specialties of all providers you see. Also, make sure to keep receipts for any injury-related expenses, such as prescriptions. Following an accident, record how you are feeling and how your injuries affect aspects of your daily life. Resolution of your claims can take many months or even years. As time goes on, people forget the extent of their pain, suffering, and limitations. Keep in mind all of the above information, and do not exaggerate.
Accepting an Early Settlement
Keep in mind at all times that the insurance company is a for-profit business which offers settlements that are as low as possible. This is not simply occasional. It is the standard practice of most insurance companies. Insurance companies try to get injury victims to settle prematurely to prevent you from learning your rights and responsibilities from an attorney. Too often, a personal injury victim is involved in an accident and makes poor decisions due to the emotional stress and interruption it creates in their lives. By acting too quickly, these people lose sight of the full picture and walk away without proper compensation for their injuries.
Not Contacting a Personal Injury Attorney
Contact the car accident attorneys at Bowman & Chamberlain, LLC, today for a free consultation. Our personal injury lawyers will discuss with you the mistakes to avoid following an accident. Call us at 720.863.6904 or email us for your free consultation. Our Denver personal Injury Lawyers handle a wide range of cases, including Car Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Bike Accidents, Motorcycle Collisions, Pedestrian Accidents, Slip and Fall Accidents, Dog Bite Accidents, and any other form of personal injury in Arvada, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Commerce City, Lakewood, Littleton, Thornton, Westminster, Wheat Ridge, and other parts of metropolitan Denver, Colorado.
Owner and Managing Attorney
Jerry Bowman, J.D., M.A., Owner and managing attorney of Bowman Law LLC, takes his responsibility to the legal profession seriously and dedicates his time and effort to providing quality and competent legal representation to clients in Denver and throughout all of Colorado. He holds an MA in Political Science from Wayne State University and earned his law degree in two and a half years from Michigan State University College of Law.