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Common Mistakes to Avoid in Car Accident Claims  

Car accidents are confusing and chaotic events where it is normal for a driver to forget the steps that he or she should take. Yet it is important to do – and not do – certain things to protect yourself. If you get involved in a car crash in Fort Collins, avoid these common mistakes so you don’t place the future of your claim in jeopardy.

Admitting Fault

Never admit fault for a car accident. There may be external factors you are unaware of, such as a car part defect or the other driver’s comparative fault. If you confess guilt or admit to causing the accident even in part, the other driver’s insurance company could bar you from financial recovery, even if the other driver also contributed to the crash. Instead of admitting fault, wait for an investigation to determine the cause of the crash.

Deciding Not to Notify the Police

In Colorado, the law requires drivers to report car accidents that result in injuries, death or property damage to law enforcement. Call 911 while you are still at the scene of a car crash. Even if the collision appears minor, having a police officer come to the scene can help your insurance claim by providing an official accident report. When the police arrive, give them your version of events so that it is documented in the report. Again, do not admit fault.

Waiting to See a Doctor

Do not delay in seeking professional medical care after a car accident. Even if you feel fine, your adrenaline may be masking the signs of a serious injury. Prompt medical care shows a car insurance company that you did everything you could to mitigate your losses, meaning to minimize the harm caused by your injuries. The failure to see a doctor or follow the recommended treatment plan, on the other hand, could give an insurer a reason to reject your claim or reduce the payout. Obtain copies of your medical records, documents, x-rays and bills.

Forgetting to Take Photos

Before you leave the scene of the accident, take photographs. If you are too injured to do so, have a friend or family member return to the scene as soon as possible to take pictures for you. Important photos to obtain are the overall crash scene, wide-lens shots of the location, close-up shots of any damage to either vehicle, debris or markings in the road, street signs, and any relevant details (e.g., food wrappers in the front seat of the other driver’s vehicle).

Failing to Notify the DMV

After contacting the police to report your car accident, you must also report it to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days. This is a requirement for all motor vehicle accidents involving injuries, death or property damage exceeding $1,000. If the police came to the scene of your accident, they will most likely submit this report. Otherwise, it is up to you to do so in no more than 10 days. If you forget to file this report, the DMV could suspend your driver’s license.

Accepting the First Settlement Offer

Once you file an insurance claim for a car accident in Colorado, do not make the mistake of thinking that the insurance adjuster assigned to your case wants what is best for you. The adjuster’s goal is to save the insurance company as much money as possible. Keep this in mind during conversations; even if the claims adjuster sounds friendly, do not give away more information than is required and do not say yes to a recorded statement.

Most importantly, do not accept the first settlement offer. The first offer is often too low, but you cannot reopen your case or renegotiate once you sign a Release of Liability Waiver.

Handling a Complicated Car Accident Case Without an Attorney

If your car accident case involves serious injuries, the death of a loved one, a liability dispute, a rejected insurance claim or other complications, contact an attorney for assistance. A personal injury lawyer in Fort Collins will work for you, not an insurance company. You can trust your lawyer to protect your rights during negotiations with an insurance claims adjuster and maximize your case results.