When you become involved in a Colorado car crash, your first reactions likely are shock and surprise, both of which may cause you to think unclearly. Try to get your thoughts together as quickly as possible, however. Why? Because the decisions you make immediately after your crash and the actions you take can affect you and your family for a long time to come.
Most importantly, stay at the scene until law enforcement arrives and tells you that you can leave. If you leave too soon, you face the possibility of officers charging you with leaving the scene of an accident or even with hit-and-run. While there, here are the top five things you should do.
1. Check for injuries
Check yourself, your passengers and all other drivers and passengers for injuries. Even if no one appears to be seriously injured, use your cellphone to call 911 and request both emergency and law enforcement assistance. Do not attempt to remove any injured person from his or her vehicle unless (s)he faces immediate danger from fire, flood, etc. Moving an injured person could exacerbate his or her injuries.
2. Exchange information
Quickly speak with all other drivers involved in the accident and exchange the following information with them:
- Name, address, phone number
- Driver’s license number and state
- License plate number and state
- Insurance company name and phone number
Be as cordial as possible, but never, under any circumstances, say or imply that you think you may have caused the accident. Such an admission against interest could come back to haunt you later if one of the other drivers sues you.
3. Take photographs
Use your cellphone to take photos of your car and all other cars involved in the crash. Be sure to get pictures of the following for each vehicle:
- Make and model
- License plate
- Signs of new damage from the accident
- Signs of prior damage
While you’re at it, take photos of the accident scene, including any nearby traffic lights or signs, construction barriers and skid marks.
4. Make a police report
When officers arrive, get each person’s name and badge number. Answer their questions truthfully, but again, say nothing that would give them the idea that you caused the accident. Ask them for their police report number and where, when and how you can get a copy of it.
5. Call your insurance company
Finally, call your insurance company and report the accident. Once again, do not speculate with the representative as to who caused the crash, especially you. Tell him or her that officers are in the process of conducting an investigation and give him or her the police report number that your company will want to obtain.
Unfortunately, your car crash is only the first step of what may well become a long process involving insurance claims and lawsuits. By following the above five steps, you likely will save yourself a lot of future hassles and headaches.