Tips from a Personal Injury Lawyer
Hey, guys. My name's Chris Parks.
I'm a personal injury lawyer in Boulder, Colorado.
And I'm going to tell you five things to do after a car accident.
To give you an idea of who I am and why you should even listen to me, I have practiced personal injury law since 1987. I started in Louisiana where I went to law school at Tulane University. And then after that I moved to Texas, I practiced in Texas for 20 years. And after Texas, I moved to Colorado.
I'm currently licensed in three states. I've tried numerous lawsuits to a verdict and I have collected in either settlements or judgments over 100 million dollars for my clients.
#1: Stop and Assess the Situation
The first thing I want to go over with you (and all these are going to be pretty simple) as soon as you get in a car wreck, the first thing I would encourage you to do is stop, assess the situation, and ask yourself, "Am I okay?".
If you're all right, if you're able to get out of the car, do that and check on the other driver.
And again, is that person okay, or anyone else that might have been involved in the accident?
Now, after a car wreck, it's very common that in the immediate onset of the I guess the trauma from the car wreck that you feel like you're okay and you're able to do things and you're running around and you know, there's just a lot going on, maybe an hour or two hours later, you start to hurt.
It's very common that I talk to someone that says, you know, "I was fine that day. I went to the emergency room, no problems, but the next morning when I woke up, I could barely get my head off the pillow."
So, if that happens to you, it's not uncommon. Don't exaggerate. Don't tell anyone that your symptoms are worse than they are. But if you wake up the next morning and you're having a problem, by all means, go see a doctor, get some treatment. But again, let's go back to the very first thing that I'm trying to get across here is five things to do after a car wreck.
So, the very first thing ask yourself, "Am I okay?" All right.
#2: Call the Police
So, the next thing after you've assessed your own self and made sure you're okay, and the person or persons that are involved with the wreck are okay,
the next thing would be to call the police.
Sometimes there's, you know, a little bit of indecision here.
"Do I call the police or not?"
"Should I go ahead and just get some information or take pictures?"
I believe you should call the police as soon as you can. That's the safest thing to do. It's the most conservative thing to do. And 9 out of 10 times, it's the right thing to do.
So, call the police, make sure you get the police on their way.
Nowadays, most of the time, what I hear about a car wreck, somebody pulled up and said, hey, I've just called 911, or the police are on the way, I just called them. So, that's more than likely what's going to happen. But if there's no one else around, by all means, call the police, get someone out there to document what happened.
A lot of times your insurance is going to want to see that police report. And so, if you can get the police out there and get everything on a police report, that's going to help them.
#3: Exchange Information
Number three, you should get some information from the other party as soon as you can.
Let's just use a simple example:
You were stopped at a stoplight and someone plowed into you from the back and hit you. You make sure you're okay. You call the police. You get out of the car, just walk over there and say, "Look, let's exchange insurance information and driver's license. Do you have yours? Here's mine."
And if you can, and if you're thinking about it, pull out your cell phone,
take pictures of their license, front and back, take pictures of their
insurance front and back.
If not in any way that you can do it, write down their information.
The police are going to do that when they get there as well.
But do this on your own if you can.
You don't know if someone's going to flee the scene, change their mind,
get cold feet, whatever you want to call it, but it does happen.
#4: Take Pictures of the Accident and Scene
The next thing that you want to do, and it's also related to getting
information is take some pictures.
I like to get orienting pictures anytime I'm representing someone in an accident. If I know that you've been in an accident at 16th in Broadway, I'm going to want to take a Google Earth photo of that and put it up in front
of the screen for a jury or for a judge.
At the same time, I'd like to have some on the ground photos and although we can get that from Google Earth as well, it's better if while the vehicles are where they were at the time of the wreck, it's better if you get out, step back and take a picture of, first of all, the other person's vehicle, make sure you get the driver's license, get pictures of where the damage was on their vehicle, then get pictures of your vehicle and where the damage is.
And if you can, get pictures where both vehicles were right before the accident.
So, if someone came out from a side street, I would walk over there and take a picture from that direction, and from where you were, take a picture.
This is difficult to do and I don't expect that everyone will be able to do this
after an accident. But if you have the presence of mind to do it, it's not going to hurt.
In my experience, all the pictures come in in a trial. So, take the pictures that show what you want someone to understand later.
Oftentimes, when you're at trial, it can be as long as a year or two years after an accident.
#5: Call Your Insurance Company
The final thing is after the accident, you should definitely call your insurance company and let them know what happened.
Give them all the information you can and just ask what it is that they would like you to do to begin the claim and what information they need from you.
Usually, a pretty simple phone call, insurance companies are used to getting these calls. They have entire divisions set up to handle these types of calls.
The last thing I want to tell you is if you have any questions at all about a car wreck in Colorado, please give me a call.
I'll be delighted to talk to you. It's not going to cost you anything.
And maybe I can help you, if not, maybe I can direct you to someone that can. That's it.
I hope you guys never have to use this video.