Have You Been Hurt in a Car Accident?
Too many good people find out the hard way that dealing with problems that follow a car accident is next to impossible without the help of an experienced lawyer. The odds are stacked against the average person who doesn’t know the “rules of the game” and is playing against the insurance company with a “home field advantage.”
Heuser & Heuser levels the playing field for clients in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, along the Arkansas Valley, Pikes Peak, and elsewhere on the Front Range. We have 30+ years of experience helping people cope with the uncertainty and fear that can follow a car accident. We’ve handled thousands of car accident cases and recovered millions of dollars for our clients every year.
What to Do After a Car Accident
First of all, make sure you receive proper medical attention. Even if you seem to have escaped the crash with only minor injuries, you need to consult a doctor to rule out any major complications that may arise.
Go see a doctor right away! Don’t put it off for even one or two days because:
- You need to be sure you haven’t suffered a more serious injury than you realize. Life-threatening internal injuries may not be immediately apparent and medical professionals need to examine you.
- By delaying medical attention, you run the risk of the insurance company trying to claim that your injuries did not come from the car wreck, but occurred during the time between the accident and when you visited the doctor.
Injuries From Car Wrecks:
Next, make sure you file a police report. It can give you leverage in negotiating your claim and you can keep a copy to help you keep your story straight when you need to repeat it in the days to come.
Report the accident to your insurance company. Be clear and concise and stick to the facts. Again, you’ll need to tell your story several times and consistency is vital, so the more basic you can keep it, the better. Never try to editorialize it or embellish it. Keep it simple and factual, and don’t try to make it sound like the other person is to blame or that you’re not to blame. Just say what happened.
Finally, contact a personal injury attorney to protect your rights.
What Not to Do After a Car Accident
Likewise, there are a few critical errors you must avoid at the accident scene and in the days following. Firstly, never apologize when you’re at the scene. It’s fine to check and see if everyone is okay, but never utter anything that sounds like an apology. It can be used against you to aid the claim that you share blame for the accident.
Secondly, do not say anything or sign anything with the insurance company before you have spoken with your attorney. Insurance adjusters will try anything to drive down your settlement amount, including trying to take a statement from you at the accident site while you may still be in shock, or calling you at home shortly after the accident.
One thing to keep in mind is that you should never sign any documents without first speaking with an attorney. Insurance adjusters may request that you sign paperwork related to the accident. However, this can cause you to sign away your legal rights and any compensation you may be entitled to obtain. Additionally, they may ask that you give a recorded statement about the collision. It’s imperative that you avoid giving a recorded statement, as this can greatly damage your claim. Make sure to speak with an experienced attorney before agreeing to sign or record anything related to the accident.
It may be hard to believe the insurer would stoop to such tactics, but they will try just about anything to get out of paying a settlement. If you’ve been in a car wreck, it’s vital to be aware of these common tactics, so insurance adjusters will not take advantage of you.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
Your insurance adjuster will start off by pretending to be genuinely concerned about your injury, but then they’ll shock you with an offer that might be insultingly low for what you’ve already spent on your recovery and what you’re likely to spend in the future. They will do everything they can to convince you to sign away your rights to future compensation.
If you refuse this offer, they’ll warn you that you might not get anything if you continue to pursue your claim. They’ll issue veiled (and sometimes overt) threats. They might accuse you of not being hurt as badly as you claim, or even of not being hurt at all. They will use strongarm tactics to get out of paying your claim. They might even start making you doubt yourself.
Never doubt yourself. You can fight back against these insurance adjusters; it just requires the right kind of help from an attorney who has the experience and knowledge of the law to stand up for your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.
Proving Negligence in Your Accident
Auto accidents, like most personal injury cases, revolve around the legal concept of negligence. This means, at its basic level, that you’ll need to prove someone else caused you to get hurt. Proving negligence requires three factors.
First, you must prove that the defendant acted in an irresponsible manner; that they behaved in a way which runs counter to the way in which any reasonable person would behave under similar circumstances. This is sometimes referred to as the “reasonable person” standard.
Second, you must show that this irresponsible behavior is what led to the accident you suffered.
Finally, you have to demonstrate that the accident was the cause of your injury.
There is also the concept of comparative negligence that comes into play. In Colorado, your compensation can be reduced by the same percentage that you are found to be responsible for the accident. If, for example, your claim is worth $250,000 but it is determined that you contributed 25% to the accident, your award will be reduced accordingly, so you’ll get only $187,500 (75% of the full value).
Many insurance companies will do everything they can to see to it that you’re found to be at least partially responsible. For this reason, you need someone in your corner who can help you prove negligence on the part of the other driver.
Vehicle Rollover Accidents
Some types of vehicles are more prone to rollover crashes than others. This is usually because of the way these vehicles were designed. A driver swerving sharply to avoid something in the road has a greater risk of rolling over in vehicles with a higher center of gravity and/or a narrow wheelbase. Rollovers often occur if a driver drifts partway off the road and then corrects the car’s direction too much or too quickly.
Rollover crashes are most prevalent in sport utility vehicles, minivans, and trucks. Drivers of those vehicles face deadly risks as injuries in rollover accidents tend to be more severe than other auto accidents. Even safety features in the vehicle prove less effective when it rolls over after the accident.
Let Your Attorney Speak for You
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 10,000 people are killed each year as the result of more than 280,000 rollover accidents.
Nearly anyone who’s been hurt in an auto accident can attest to how it turned their world upside down and presented frightening questions about the future.
You likely have a poor chance to succeed against the insurance companies that try to operate by their own set of rules.
Gordon and Barkley Heuser help even the odds for our clients. We know just what you’re facing and will do all we can to help you cope with the wreck’s aftermath. Our team has handled thousands of auto accident claims and we can usually tell you what to expect during each stage of your case.
You don’t have to allow a serious injury from an auto accident to wreck your life. The Heuser brothers will take care of the legal hassles for you. We will deal with the insurance company, gather all the necessary reports and medical bills, and help you get through this difficult time.
Heuser & Heuser, L.L.P. is an experienced personal injury law firm in the state of Colorado with offices in Colorado Springs and Pueblo. The Heuser brothers have more than 30 years of legal experience in practice areas such as auto accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, and workers’ compensation. To schedule a consultation with one of our practicing attorneys, please give us a call at 719-419-9478, or complete our inquiry contact form.