1. Stop! Colorado law requires a driver resulting in possible personal injury, death, or property damage to stop at the scene or as close as possible.
2. Be calm. If you feel you have been seriously injured, stay put. Try not to show anger, make accusations or admit fault yourself. Only discuss what happened with the police.
3. Call the police. Colorado law requires that the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident involving personal injury or property damage contact the police as quickly as possible.
4. Call a family member or friend. You need someone to come help you at the scene of the collision. You need someone you trust to observe the scene and do things that you might not think of.
5. Get detailed information. Get the other driver’s name, address, phone numbers, make and model of car, driver’s license number, name of the owner of the car if different from the driver, and insurance policy info. If you or family member or friend is able, get the name, address, and phone numbers of other individuals involved and witnesses to the accident.
6. Don’t discuss details with anyone but the police. Do not discuss details with any insurance adjuster – yours included. Often people make the statement to the other driver or the police that, “I am O.K.” or “I’m not hurt”. Usually people say this even though they may be in pain and have no idea what the extent or nature their injuries might be. Sometimes they say it because the person who hit them seems nice and they don’t want them to feel bad. What they really mean is they do not think that they are catastrophically injured or dying.
Unfortunately, the insurance company, and the wrongdoer, will use your statement against you when valuing your claim and in court. Jurors can be terribly biased against people who make injury claims and conclude based on your statement that you weren’t really hurt. Countless victims of accidents who said they were o.k. at the scene end up with permanent injuries, some requiring surgery, or a brain injury. Unless you are a doctor, and even then, you may not know if you are hurt or not. When asked, just explain that it is impossible to tell at this point.
7. Get Photographs. These can be very useful later on. Use your cell phone and get a lot of pictures. If you don’t have a cell phone that can take pictures, keep a disposable camera in your car. Get the street scene and any traffic control devices such as stop or yield signs etc. Make sure you photograph any skidmarks. If you can do it safely, take photos of all the vehicles from many angles. If you are physically unable, or at the hospital, this is another opportunity for a family member or friend to help you.
8. GET MEDICAL ATTENTION. If there is any possibility that you might be injured get help. Even if you don’t go to the hospital in an ambulance, get checked out thoroughly by your doctor, or go to the emergency room or urgent care clinic. Make sure you list all of your complaints no matter how minor. When the adrenaline is flowing after a collision, the victims often do not feel the pain initially and do not realize that they are hurt until later. This is why you should go to the hospital before you go anywhere else. Delays in medical treatment will be used by the insurance company and their lawyers to argue that you must not have been badly hurt.
9. Report the collision to the other driver’s insurance company. Don’t assume that the other driver will report the collision to their insurance company. You should put them on notice immediately so that they can examine the facts of the collision. Do not give a recorded statement. Do not discuss what if any injuries you think you may have. You simply want to make a claim. If they attempt to ask a lot of questions advise them that you will be happy to answer them – after you have spoken with a lawyer. Remember, no matter how sweet the voice of the insurance claim adjuster, they can and will use the information you give them against you later.