If you’ve been injured in a car, motorcycle, or truck accident in Colorado, it’s important to take certain steps to protect your rights while dealing with the insurance company concerning your claim. Don’t assume that any insurance company, whether it claims to be a good neighbor or good hands, has your best interest at heart. Here is a checklist of basic actions you should take and pitfalls you should avoid if you’re involved in an auto-injury accident.
- Injured? Do seek medical help promptly. Even if you don’t think the crash injuries are severe enough to warrant an immediate trip to the emergency room, it makes sense to get a thorough physical exam within 72 hours of the accident, to make sure you didn’t suffer head trauma, whiplash, or other serious conditions that may have delayed symptoms. A delay in seeking treatment can influence how an insurance company evaluates your claim down the line; early detection and treatment of injuries helps your case as well as your body.
- Do file a police report. Insurance companies are going to want an accident report in order to process your claim, and the law requires a report be filed if there’s an injury or property damage.
- Do contact your insurance company right away. Again, a delay in filing a claim can affect how the insurance company evaluates that claim.
- Do document your claim. Take pictures of vehicle damage, get contact information of witnesses to the accident, keep track of medical bills and expenses related to the crash.
- Do read your policy and note its limitations. It’s important to know what kind of coverage you have and what isn’t covered, as well as deadline dates for filing claims. Keep detailed notes of your conversations with company representatives, including names, job titles, and phone numbers.
- Do find out if you have other insurance coverage that might apply. Some drivers have more than one policy that might protect them. Look at homeowners’ policies and umbrella policies for relevant coverage.
- Do understand your rights. If your claim is delayed or denied, you have certain rights under Colorado law. For example, the insurance company has to respond in a reasonable amount of time to claims and explain any denials of coverage. You are under no obligation to have your car repaired at the place the company designates, and you are not required to accept a settlement offer that you consider to be unfair.
WHAT NOT TO DO
- Don’t give your insurance company or the other party’s insurance company a recorded statement without first consulting a lawyer. Remember, insurance companies have a monetary incentive to limit their liability and pay as little as possible in claims. Meet with a personal injury attorney before providing any recorded statement.
- Don’t sign away your rights. The insurance company may press you for a written statement. It may ask you to sign a release or waiver or endorse a check that says “final payment,” even though you believe your claim is worth more than the amount offered. Don’t take any of these actions without having a clear idea of your coverage and your rights. Consult a personal injury attorney before signing anything.
- Don’t automatically accept the company’s appraisal of your losses. If the case involves serious injuries and the prospect of future treatments or surgeries, you should be wary of anyone putting a price tag on your losses before you’ve had an opportunity to assess the ongoing impacts of the crash for yourself.
- Don’t go in it alone. Some people may believe that they have more than enough savvy and life experience to stand up for themselves in any negotiation with an insurance company. But keep in mind that the company’s employees are highly experienced professionals, and it’s likely that you will need professional, experienced counsel of your own to deal with them effectively. At the very least, you should consult with a personal injury attorney early in the process to determine if your case will benefit from such expertise. In serious injury cases, you have a great deal to gain by considering proper legal representation – and a great deal to lose if you try to proceed on your own.
THE CAR CRASH ATTORNEYS AT FDAZAR
For more than thirty years the attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates have helped thousands of injured people obtain complete and timely compensation for their losses. Our proven track record and expertise have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Fort Collins, Thornton, Grand Junction, Greenwood Village, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. If you’ve been injured in a bus, car, truck, or motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call the car accident attorneys at FDAzar day or night at 800-716-9032, or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.