I Was in a Car Accident. What’s the First Thing I Should Do?

Accidents are an all too common occurrence and can leave behind substantial damages to the individuals involved and their property. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), in 2018, there were about 121,922 motor vehicle crashes in the state. The days following an accident are often emotional and it’s difficult to know what to do first.

Our personal injury attorneys at Downs, McDonough, Cowan, & Foley can provide guidance and review your options. We fight to protect your rights and can help you negotiate fair compensation for your injuries. We proudly serve personal injury victims in Durango, Telluride, Pagosa Springs, Cortez, and The Four Corners, Colorado.

What to Do When an Accident Occurs

After a car accident, it’s not uncommon to be in a state of shock. However, It’s important that you remain calm and take important steps that may affect your personal injury claim. Here is what to do when an accident occurs:

Seek Medical Help: Following a car accident, it’s extremely crucial for the accident victim to seek emergency care. The medical experts will determine the extent of any injury sustained and offer you appropriate medical treatment. Even if you don’t feel any ill-effects immediately, it’s always advised to get a medical opinion.

Collect Necessary Documentation: A personal injury claim may largely depend on documentation as evidence. Make sure to obtain copies of police reports, medical records, accident scene photos, and witness statements. Also, remember to document all of your medical expenses, medical treatments, and doctor’s appointments.

Personal Recollection of Details: As soon as possible, you should document your own recollection of what occurred before, during, and after the accident. Little details that may be important to your case, can easily be forgotten over time.

Report the Accident to Your Insurance: Reporting the accident to your insurance company or provider should be done immediately. Some agencies have time requirements for reporting such as within two days of the accident occurring.

Retain an Attorney: Hire an experienced personal injury attorney to help you file claims or negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company.

Colorado Laws and Requirements

Colorado has several state laws that pertain to car accidents including:

Colorado Reporting Requirement

According to the Colorado Revised Statutes section 42-4-1606, a driver involved in a traffic accident in Colorado must report the crash if the accident resulted in an injury, property damage, or death of any individual. As a result, all car accidents in the state must be reported to the nearest office of the local authorities.

Colorado Insurance Law

Under Colorado laws, a motor vehicle operator must carry minimum bodily injury liability coverage of:

  • $25,000 for liability for bodily injuries per person
  • $50,000 total for liability for injuries if two or more persons were injured
  • $15,000 in property damage liability coverage

However, Colorado is a third-party liability state. A person who suffers any type of injury, bodily injury, or damage due to a car accident may file a third-party claim directly with the insurance provider of the at-fault driver.

Colorado’s Comparative Negligence Law

According to the Colorado Revised Statutes section 13-21-111, a person involved in an auto accident may recover damages in proportion to the degree of negligence of each party. Through modified comparative negligence, the judge or jury will first determine the amount of damages that would be awarded if there were no negligence on the injured victim’s part. The plaintiff’s damages or financial compensation will then be reduced by the percentage at which he or she was at fault for the accident. For example, if compensation was awarded at $10,000 but the plaintiff was found to be 20% liable for the accident, the amount the plaintiff would receive would be $8,000.

Colorado Statute of Limitations

Colorado’s statute of limitations states that a personal injury claim arising from any form of motor vehicle accident, whether by the driver, passenger, bicyclist, motorcyclist, or pedestrian, must be filed within three years of which the accident occurred. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is crucial to determine liability, file claims, and negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company.

How Legal Counsel Can Help

Being involved in a car accident can be a devastating experience, emotionally, physically, and financially. It is important that you retain a knowledgeable Colorado personal injury attorney to protect your rights and help you pursue fair financial compensation.

Our experienced attorneys at Downs, McDonough, Cowan, & Foley can represent you compassionately in matters of personal injury and auto accidents. As your legal counsel, we will:

  • Fight to protect your rights and represent your interests
  • Review your case and carry out a comprehensive investigation
  • Gather all required evidence and documentation
  • Help you prove fault and liability
  • Determine and estimate case-value
  • Negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance provider

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Durango, Colorado

If you were hurt in an auto accident involving a negligent party, you may be entitled to recover compensation. Call Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley today to schedule a one-on-one consultation. Our team will review your case and help you pursue fair compensation. We proudly serve clients in Durango, Telluride, Pagosa Springs, Cortez, and The Four Corners, Colorado.


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