EVERY TIME WE GET INTO OUR CARS, TO GO TO WORK, DROPPING OUR CHILDREN OFF AT SCHOOL, OR RUNNING ERRANDS, WE TAKE A RISK OF BEING INVOLVED IN A CAR ACCIDENT.As in other cities, car accidents are very common from Denver to the border of Wyoming. In fact, the United States has had the worst fatality rate since the Great Depression. The US has had three straight years of more than 40,000 deaths from traffic related accidents (according to the National Safety Council). Also, about 4.5 million people were seriously injured in car crashes in 2018. I am quite sure that you could double or triple this number to include those who suffered minor injuries in traffic related accidents last year. How can we protect ourselves? The National Safety Council urges motorists to:
1. Practice Defensive Driving.
In other words, if you are drinking alcohol, then have a sober designated driver. Get lots of sleep so that you do not succumb to fatigue out on the road. Fatigue causes many crashes and we know that truck drivers are very prone to fatigue related crashes. Also, one can drive very attentively and without distractions to lessen one’s chance of being in a car accident. We all know that many crashes nowadays are due to inattentive driving, like texting and talking on cell phones.
2. Learn to recognize drugged drivers.
We are all aware of the Opiod crisis and we are equally aware that Colorado is a legal marijuana state. Drivers can get a DUI for driving after smoking marijuana just as they can be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. Drugged and drunk drivers are a major peril every time we get into our vehicles. Smart and defensive driving means keeping an eye out for reckless drivers, fast drivers, drivers haphazardly changing lanes, and those going abnormally slow or not using turn signals. The idea is for one to keep an eye out in a 360 degree fashion so that one is constantly scanning for dangerous drivers and obstacles.
3. Keep engaged with your teen’s driving habits.
Teenagers have no real life experience behind the wheel. Teenagers tend to constantly text and drive. The new generation relies more on their cell phones than any generation prior to the invention of the cell phone. Many apps and insurance companies have tracking devices that can be placed into your teenager’s car to monitor their driving habits. You can download your child’s driving activity to see if they are driving dangerously or speeding. More needs to be done to educate and protect our children when driving.
4. Learn how to use all of your car’s safety systems.
For example, many cars nowadays have back up cameras. This is a great safety feature and has prevented many deaths from backing over children or pedestrians. Of course, you cannot totally rely on a back up camera but it is a great safety device that is now on most new cars. Airbags are another great safety feature. Airbags can be turned off if there is a small person riding as a passenger. There are other attributes of airbags that everyone should study and know. Most new cars have anti-skid protection which protects drivers when hitting water or ice. 4-wheel drive is also of great benefit if you live in a state like Colorado which can get heavy snows and ice.
5. Stay aware of recalls.
It is a good idea to periodically check for any outstanding recalls on your vehicle. Most car companies will notify you of any recalls if they have your proper contact information. However, it is best to periodically consult a web site like ChecktoProtect.org. There you can see the latest recalls for your particular vehicle.
6. Push lawmakers and Colorado leaders to protect us.
Don’t sit idly by and watch from the sidelines. We can all contact our senators and representatives to urge them to pass better safety laws. Lawmakers want to please their constituents so that they get re-elected, so we can take advantage of this known fact. Colorado received a “C” for their traffic safety laws by the National Security Council-State of Safety: A State by State Report. A “C” is not that great so Colorado has many areas in which they can improve. We also have a history of avalanches and fires which can endanger the public and in which we need better notification methods. In fact, Colorado only ranked number 33 in road safety. Thus, there are 32 states which rank safer than us in Colorado.
7. Join the Road to Zero Coalition.
The Road to Zero Coalition is a group of organizations which plan to end roadway deaths by the year 2050. The coalition has identified 3 main initiatives to greatly impact fatalities in our country. First, they are emphasizing what works through proven evidence based strategies. Second, the coalition is pushing for more advanced life saving technology in automobiles as well as in our infrastructure. Lastly, the coalition is working to prioritize safety by adopting a safe systems approach and creating a culture of positivism in relation to safety.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED FORT COLLINS CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY LIKE ME?
The insurance companies are not out to help you. The insurance companies exist to make money and profit. It does not help profit margins when insurance companies pay out too many claims or pay too much for each claim. The insurance companies consistently take advantage of injured claimants who do not have an experienced personal injury attorney fighting for them. Statistically, an experienced car accident attorney can get 3 times as much money as someone who tries to negotiate themselves. So, it is always best to get attorney representation from day one, if possible. If not possible, an attorney can always jump in at a later date and get you the best settlement possible, under the applicable state laws.
I have 22 years of experience handling only personal injury and motor vehicle related accidents. As I used to work for the insurance companies, I know the right negotiating tactics in order to get the highest settlement available. A general attorney or an attorney who does no specialize in car accidents will get you a much lower settlement. So, it is best to stick with an experienced car accident attorney as they know the law and they know how to negotiate the value of different injuries. I have settled more than 2,000 cases in my career and have settled the smallest case to very large cases. No case is too small. Everyone deserves compensation for their injuries. After all, it was the other guy’s fault and you should not have to suffer needlessly.
It is very important to keep a close eye on the Statute of Limitations and an experienced attorney can make sure that mistakes are not made. In Colorado, an injury victim in a car accident has 3 years to settle his or her case or 3 years to begin a lawsuit. If your case is not settled 3 years from your accident date or a lawsuit is not filed in that time period, then your case is lost forever! It is very important that one does not let the Statute of Limitations pass them by.
If you contact an experienced lawyer like myself, I can begin investigating your case, interviewing the police officer and any eyewitnesses. I can also help in locating a hard to find at-fault driver as well as finding what type and amount of insurance he or she has available for your particular accident. Evidence can also be destroyed if there is too much delay. I can have the evidence preserved so that it is not lost or destroyed. I can also make sure that you are getting the best and appropriate medical care for your injuries. It is very important to get medical care ASAP so that your injuries can be properly treated and so that the medical evidence in your case can be preserved.
HERE ARE SOME RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ANYONE INVOLVED IN A CAR ACCIDENT OR TRAFFIC ACCIDENT:
1. Try to remain calm.
Your adrenaline will be pumping and you may be worried about the extent of your injuries. You can talk to the at-fault driver and maybe you will hear him admit fault to you. If the other driver admits fault, that is good evidence that I can use against him and when negotiating with his insurance carrier. Just don’t admit that you were anyway at fault or the insurance company can use that against you as well. So, try to just listen to the other driver as he or she will frequently put his foot in his mouth.
2. Make sure to immediately call the police or sheriff’s department (depending on the jurisdiction over the place of the auto accident).
Don’t let the other driver try to persuade you not to call the police. Frequently, the at-fault driver will have a record of traffic accidents or tickets and may not want his insurance company to know about this car accident. He or she may offer you money on the spot for your injuries but that is never a good thing! Avoid talking with the at-fault driver about money or settlement. It is much too soon to settle your case as you do not even know the extent of your injuries. Plus, a settlement offer on the spot is usually going to mean an offer of a few hundred dollars or an offer to repair your car.
3. Take photos.
It is very important to pull out your cell phone and take photos of both vehicles from all angles. You should also take a photo of the license plate of the at-fault driver and his driver’s license and insurance card. They may provide false insurance information so it is important to have enough information to find the at-fault driver if he is lying about his insurance coverage.
4. Do not move the vehicles.
If you have to move your car because of safety reasons, then do it. But, if you can, try not to move all vehicles involved until the police arrive. The police will take photos and measurements to determine who is at fault. The police make a fault determination based on photos, vehicle placement and the driver’s statements and any eyewitness statements, if available. Frequently, there are no eyewitnesses but it is usually good to have eyewitness statements as they can provide neutral evidence of fault.
WHEN THE POLICE ARRIVE ON SCENE:
- Concentrate on being pleasant, cooperative and truthful. Do not get angry with the police or show a bad attitude. Policemen and Policewomen are people too and they may get offended and take sides with the more friendly driver.
- Describe exactly what happened without any falsehoods
- Try not to estimate measurements or speed as you will usually not be totally accurate and this can be held against you in later settlement negotiations
- Do not say “It was my fault”. There are many factors involved in determining fault and if you admit fault, the truth may not always be revealed and you would seriously hurt your liability case
- Do not say you are not injured. Some injuries and symptoms of pain may take a few days to develop. It is often acceptable to say that your back hurts, your neck hurts, etc. whatever it is that is causing you discomfort or pain at that moment. Give your vehicle insurance information and most importantly, make sure to obtain the at-fault driver’s information, preferably by taking a photo of his or her driver’s license or holding it in your hand and writing the information on a piece of paper.
- Make sure to get the other driver’s name, address, telephone number, driver’s license number, and license plate number. Either write down or take a cell phone picture of the other driver’s license plate and make of car.
- If you have a cell phone or camera, take photos of the scene as well as the damage to the vehicles. This will at least preserve the evidence if the at-fault driver’s car is later repaired.
- Promptly call your own automobile insurance company. But, talk to me before agreeing to provide a written statement or a recorded telephone conversation. Most insurance companies will rush to record statements of both drivers before an attorney is hired. Why? An experienced Fort Collins car accident attorney will not allow you to give a recorded statement as that could be used as adverse evidence. Your words may be misconstrued and used against you, even by your own insurance company. So, it is very important that you have me prep you for any recorded statements, if I even allow that in the first place.
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