Tag: car accident

What is the Seatbelt Defense?

What is the Seatbelt Defense?

Some insurance companies are willing to accept the fact that their policyholder was at fault for an accident if they have enough evidence that says this is true. But, other insurance companies won’t go down without a fight. One of the most common strategies that is used by the at-fault party’s insurance company in a car accident claim is known as the seatbelt defense.

What is the Seatbelt Defense?

Countless studies have shown that wearing a seatbelt is the most effective way to protect yourself in a car accident. Despite this research, it is estimated that only 85% of people in the state of Colorado wear their seatbelts.

Now, let’s say you were injured in a car accident that was clearly caused by the other driver. If you weren’t wearing your seatbelt at the time of the crash, the at-fault party could try to use the seatbelt defense. This means the at-fault party will try to prove that you would not have been injured or would not have suffered such serious injuries if you been responsible enough to wear your seatbelt. Basically, the defendant is attempting to reduce his liability by saying that you were partially or totally responsible for your injuries.

The Seatbelt Defense & Comparative Negligence

Colorado is a modified comparative negligence state, which means personal injury victims may still be able to recover compensation even if they were partially to blame for the accident. But, victims cannot recover compensation if they were 50% or more responsible for their injuries. Therefore, the seatbelt defense can be used to reduce the amount of compensation awarded to the plaintiff.

For example, let’s say you suffer a concussion and broken bones in a car crash. Then, the defendant successfully proves that you would not have suffered a concussion if you were wearing your seatbelt, but you would have still suffered broken bones. As a result, the court finds that 30% of the liability falls on you, while the remaining 70% falls on the defendant. This means the amount of compensation that you are awarded will be decreased by 30%, so the seatbelt defense was successful. If the court finds that you are 50% or more responsible for your injuries, the defendant will not have to compensate you at all.

If you were not wearing a seatbelt when you were injured in a crash, contact Reisch Law Firm today. Our personal injury attorneys will be prepared to fight the seatbelt defense and recover the compensation that you deserve. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.

Things You Should Never Say After A Car Accident

Things You Should Never Say After A Car Accident

Being in a car accident can be an incredibly nerve-wracking experience. In fact, the shock and stress of being in an accident may cause you to say things that you will regret in the future. Here are some of the things you should never say after a car accident:

“I’m sorry, it was my fault.”

Don’t ever take the blame for the accident—even if you think that you were at fault. It’s possible that the other driver was partially or completely to blame, so don’t let him off the hook by accepting fault. Taking the blame will affect your ability to recover compensation in a car accident claim, so keep your lips sealed.

“I’m not injured.”

The other driver may ask how you are feeling after an accident to see if you were injured in the crash. Even if you feel fine, do not tell the other driver that you were not injured. It’s possible that you won’t discover the injuries until hours or days after the accident when the symptoms become more noticeable. But, telling the other driver that you are not injured could make it difficult to recover compensation for any injuries that you discover. It’s recommended that you never comment on your injuries until you have been examined by a doctor.

“I was distracted.”

A police officer or another driver may ask you a question about the events leading up to the accident. For example, a police officer may ask if you saw the other driver make an illegal turn. If you don’t know the answer to this question, say you don’t know. Don’t explain why you don’t know by admitting that you were looking at your phone or talking to someone in your car. Admitting that you were distracted at the time of the accident is almost the same as admitting that you were at fault.

Don’t let these mistakes affect your car accident claim. It’s best to avoid talking to anyone at the scene of the accident with the exception of the responding police officer. The only times that you should talk to the other driver are when you are asking if he needs medical attention and when you are exchanging information.

If you have been injured in a car accident, contact Reisch Law Firm today. Our personal injury attorneys can communicate with other parties on your behalf so you don’t accidentally say anything that could affect your claim. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.

Car Accidents Caused by Road Hazards

Car Accidents Caused by Road Hazards

The vast majority of car accidents are caused by driver error or drivers that are distracted, inexperienced, or intoxicated. But sometimes, a car accident occurs due to a road hazard. What kind of hazards can cause drivers to crash? Who is liable for car accidents caused by road hazards? Here’s what you need to know:

Common Road Hazards

A road hazard is any type of dangerous condition on the road, including excessive gravel, pot holes, oil spills, uneven lanes, standing water, or debris. Some road hazards, such as ice patches or snow, are caused by environmental elements. But others, such as pot holes and bumpy roads, are problems with the actual road itself.

Who is Liable For Car Accidents Caused by Road Hazards

If you have been injured in a car accident, the first thing that your attorney must do is determine who is at fault for the crash. If the accident occurred because of a problem with the road, the government entity that is responsible for maintaining the road could be held liable.

It’s important to note that filing a claim against the government is very different from filing a claim against another driver. How? First, the claim against the government must be filed within 180 days, which is significantly shorter than the three year time limit that other personal injury victims have. Before this 180 day period is up, the victim must submit a written notice that includes:

  • Contact information
  • Brief description of what happened, including where it happened and under what circumstances
  • Information on what injuries the victim sustained in the accident
  • How much compensation the victim is trying to recover

If this notice is not received within 180 days, the government will not allow you to file a claim. For this reason, it’s important to move quickly and get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident.

Other Liable Parties

The government is not the only party that could be responsible for your injuries. It’s possible that another driver involved in the accident was partly or totally to blame. If the accident was caused because of a road hazard near a construction site, the company that was contracted to do the construction may be responsible. Let an attorney analyze the details of your case to determine who should be held liable for your injuries.

Have you been injured in a car accident caused by a road hazard? If so, contact Reisch Law Firm today. Our personal injury attorneys have years of experience filing claims against city, county, and state government entities. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.

How to Take Photos After A Car Accident

How to Take Photos After A Car Accident

Personal injury attorneys strongly recommend that car accident victims gather evidence from the scene of the accident if they are able to do so. Besides talking to witnesses and exchanging information with the other drivers, victims should also take pictures of the scene. Why is it so important to take photos after a car accident? What should you photograph? Here’s everything that you need to know:

Why Taking Pictures is Necessary

People who have been injured in a car accident caused by another driver will need to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. But without evidence, the other driver or his insurance company may argue that the accident was your fault. If it turns into a “he said, she said” argument, it’s not likely that you will recover the compensation that you deserve.

To avoid this problem, take as many pictures as possible at the scene of the accident. Why? Photos can reveal a lot about the accident, including the direction the drivers were traveling in, the impact of the collision, and the damages caused by the crash. Even if something seems insignificant to you, it could be the missing piece of the puzzle that your attorney needs to prove liability. In some cases, photos are also used to help an accident reconstruction expert recreate the collision to prove which driver was at fault.

What to Photograph

If it is safe to do so, take pictures of the vehicles that were involved in the accident before they are moved off of the road. Photograph the vehicles both up close and from a distance so you can capture the positioning of the vehicles as well as the dents, cracked windshields, and scratches caused by the collision. If the vehicles hit anything else such as a light pole or stop sign, photograph the damage caused by this collision as well.

If you have visible injuries, take photos of these as well. It’s best to photograph your injuries on a daily basis so you can show how they worsened or how long they took to heal.

Then, look around to see if there is anything on the road. Did one of the vehicles leave skid marks on the road? Is there broken glass from a window or a piece of a bumper laying in the middle of the street? Photograph this debris so you can paint a clear picture of what happened later on.

Finally, look for any traffic signs or lights that could have played a role in the accident. Try to take these pictures from far away so the picture shows exactly where the vehicles are in relation to the traffic signs or lights. This may help you prove that the accident was caused by the other driver’s failure to obey a traffic sign or light.

Have you been injured in a car accident? There’s no time to waste—seek legal representation as soon as possible. Contact Reisch Law Firm today so our personal injury attorneys can begin analyzing this photographic evidence to prove liability. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.

The Importance of Waiting For the Police After A Car Accident

The Importance of Waiting For the Police After A Car Accident

It’s never a good time to get in a car accident, but some times are worse than others. If you’re rushing to work or trying to get to an important meeting, the last thing that you want to do is wait around for the police to arrive at the scene, especially if it was a minor accident. But, don’t underestimate the value of waiting for the police after a car accident.

The police officer who arrives at the scene will gather information that he needs to write an official report. This report will include the location, date, and time of the accident, in addition to details on any property damage and injuries sustained by the drivers or witnesses. The police may also include statements from the parties involved in the accident, as well as the officer’s opinion on how was at fault.

Clearly, there is a wealth of information in the police report, which is why this document can play such a big role in your personal injury case. A police report can support your version of events and prove to the other driver’s insurance company that you were not to blame for the accident. But, if you didn’t wait for the police, you won’t be able to provide this evidence to the insurance company, which may affect your ability to recover compensation.

At this point, you’re probably wondering why a police report matters in minor accidents where there are no injuries. It often takes hours—or even days—for the symptoms of an injury to appear. In many cases, what starts off as a minor symptom can slowly become worse over a matter of a few hours. So, even though you think you will not need a police report at the scene of the accident, it’s very likely that you will regret this information later on when it becomes clear that you are injured.

It’s been proven that passengers and drivers can sustain injuries in low-speed collisions. In fact, it’s possible to sustain injuries even if the car that hit you was traveling at 10 miles per hour. For this reason, it’s in your best interest to call the police and wait for them to arrive so you have an official police report that summarizes the accident.

Contact a personal injury attorney after leaving the scene of the accident. The team at Reisch Law Firm will thoroughly review your case to determine if you are entitled to compensation. To learn more about your options, schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.

Written vs. Recorded Statements After A Car Accident

Written vs. Recorded Statements After A Car Accident

As soon as the at-fault party’s insurance company is notified of the accident, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to your case. Shortly after, the insurance adjuster will contact you to discuss the accident and damages. The insurance adjuster may try to pressure you to explain your version of the events in a recorded statement. But, most personal injury attorneys recommend that you put a statement in writing instead of agreeing to record it. What’s the difference? Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of written vs. recorded statements:

Recorded Statements

Insurance companies prefer that you provide recorded statements. Why? The insurance adjuster that is assigned to your case gets to control the conversation because he will be the one asking you questions. This means they can choose to focus on any aspect of the case that they are interested in, which they don’t have the opportunity to do if you submit a written statement. They also have the chance to ask you misleading questions in order to get you to make a statement that can be used against you later on in the case. Even something as minor as saying “I’m fine” when asked “How are you?” could be taken out of context and used against you.

An insurance adjuster will usually ask you to give the recorded statement during the initial phone call about your case. As a result, it’s very likely that you will not be prepared or know what you should avoid saying. This is another reason why insurance adjusters prefer recorded statements. By putting you on the spot, they may be able to get the information they need to lower the value of your claim.

Written Statements

Your personal injury attorney will probably prefer that you submit a written statement as opposed to giving a recorded statement. Why? An attorney can help you put your thoughts in writing and approve the statement before it is sent to the insurance company. He will prevent you from submitting a statement that is unclear or that contains information that you should not provide to the insurance company.

Car accident victims also don’t have to worry about answering questions if they choose a written statement. This gives you complete control over the tone and content of the statement.

If you have been injured, it’s important to contact an attorney before speaking to the insurance company. At Reisch Law Firm, we know exactly how to handle insurance adjusters who are not looking out for your best interest. Our team will aggressively negotiate with the insurance company to ensure you recover the compensation that you deserve. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.

Maximum Medical Improvement & Your Car Accident Claim

Maximum Medical Improvement & Your Car Accident Claim

When should you accept a settlement offer from an insurance company after a car accident? You should never accept an offer before you know the value of your claim, otherwise you won’t know how much compensation you deserve. But, in order to calculate the value of your claim, you will need to know exactly how injured you are and how the injuries will affect you in the future. For this reason, it’s in your best interest to wait until you have reached maximum medical improvement before accepting a claim.

What is Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)?

Maximum medical improvement (MMI) is the point at which a victim’s condition has improved as much as it is going to improve. For some victims, this means that they have fully recovered from their injuries. For instance, someone with a broken bone will reach MMI when the bone completely heals and the cast has been removed. But for others, MMI could mean that no further improvements are expected even though the victim is still experiencing symptoms. This can happen with many types of injuries, but it is especially common with brain and spinal cord injuries.

Why Should You Wait Until MMI?

If you don’t wait until MMI to calculate the value of your claim, it’s very possible that you will underestimate how much your claim is worth. If you have a brain injury, there’s no way of knowing what treatment you will need in the future, how long you will need to be treated, and how the symptoms will continue to affect your life until you have reached MMI. Even if a doctor predicts early on that you will make a full recovery, do not accept a settlement offer just yet. Remember, doctors can be wrong, and it’s very difficult to predict how someone will recover from traumatic injuries.

To illustrate why this is important, consider this example. A mild brain injury victim may be told in the early stages of treatment that he should fully recover within a matter of months. But after one year of treatment, the victim is still suffering both physically and emotionally even though he has reached MMI. If the victim had accepted a settlement in the early stages of his case, he may not have factored in the costs of future treatment and pain and suffering. Therefore, he would have ended up settling for an offer that is far less than what he deserves.

Once you accept an offer, there’s no way to go back and ask for more money from the insurance company, which is why it’s so important that you be patient and wait to reach MMI.

If you have been injured in a car accident, do not accept an offer without talking to a personal injury attorney. The team at Reisch Law Firm will help you calculate the value of your claim so you know how much compensation you deserve. Then, we’ll start fighting to recover the full amount for you. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.

How to Prevent Seatbelt Injuries

How to Prevent Seatbelt Injuries

Seatbelts are designed to keep us safe in the event of a car accident, but they don’t always work the way that they should. In fact, some people who are involved in car accidents are actually injured by the seatbelt that is holding them in place. Most seatbelt injuries are minor bruises or scrapes, but it’s possible to sustain serious internal injuries or soft tissue damage from a seatbelt as well. How can you prevent seatbelt injuries? The key is keeping the seatbelt in the proper position. Follow these tips:

Value Safety Over Comfort

Have you ever adjusted the strap that goes across your body so it sits behind your back or tucked under your arm? This may be more comfortable than wearing it across your chest, which restricts your movement, but it’s not a good idea. The seatbelt cannot hold your body back in the event of a collision if this strap is not laying across your chest. In addition, the strap may cause minor scrapes and bruises if it’s underneath your arm at the time of the crash.

Check the Positioning

Before you hit the road, check the positioning of the lap and shoulder belt. Many people stretch the lap belt across their stomach, but this could lead to internal injuries if you are in an accident. The lap belt is designed to lay across your hips, not across your stomach. To protect yourself, adjust the lap belt so it sits right below your stomach.

The shoulder belt should cross over the middle of your chest. If the shoulder belt is too close to your neck, it may cause soft tissue damage or bruising in an accident. Adjust the height of the seatbelt or your seat in order to reposition the shoulder strap.

Loosen the Seatbelt

A seatbelt should never be so tight that it digs into your skin or cuts off circulation. In fact, a seatbelt that is this tight could cause serious internal injuries and painful bruising if you are involved in an accident. If your seatbelt is too tight, adjust it before you begin driving. The seatbelt should be comfortable, but it shouldn’t be too loose.

Even though seatbelts can cause injuries, don’t use this as an excuse to not wear one. Seatbelt injuries are minor in comparison to the serious injuries that you can sustain in accident while not wearing a seatbelt.

Have you been injured in a car accident? If so, contact Reisch Law Firm today. Our personal injury attorneys will do whatever it takes to recover the compensation that you deserve. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.

What To Do if There Are Errors in A Car Accident Police Report

What To Do if There Are Errors in A Car Accident Police Report

If you have been in a car accident, it’s important to immediately call 9-1-1 and ask the operator to send a police officer to the scene. The responding officer will be responsible for creating a police report after talking to the parties involved in the accident, examining the property damage, and reviewing the traffic laws. This document will contain information on how and why the accident occurred and who was at fault, so it plays an important role in your case. But, what if there are errors in a car accident police report? Here’s what you should do:

Correcting Factual Errors

The first type of error that may be found in a police report is factual. For example, the police officer could have written down that the car that was hit was a Toyota Corolla when it’s in actually a Toyota Camry. He could have also written down the wrong location, date, or time of the accident. If you spot a factual error in a police report, reach out to the police department and ask if you can get in touch with the officer who wrote the report. The officer will most likely ask you to provide proof of the correct information before he changes the report. Then, he will write an addendum with the correct information and attach it to the report.

Correcting Non-Factual Errors

It would be difficult to disagree on the date that the accident occurred or the type of vehicle involved because these are facts. But, the parties involved in the accident may disagree on other matters, including who was to blame and what happened in the moments leading up to the accident. If the police officer writes something in his report that you don’t agree with, it’s much more difficult to have the report changed. Most police departments will allow you to submit a document that explains why the information included in the initial report was inaccurate. Then, the police officer who wrote the report can review this information and decide whether or not he wants to attach the document to the report or amend his report. For example, let’s say the report claims that you did not completely stop at a red light before making a turn and colliding with another vehicle. If you believe that you did completely stop, you can write this information down and submit it to the police department.

If you have been injured in a car accident, seek legal representation from the personal injury attorneys at Reisch Law Firm today. Our team will investigate the accident and gather the evidence that we need to prove the other party was at fault. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.

Questions to Ask Car Accident Witnesses

Questions to Ask Car Accident Witnesses

It’s recommended that you ask any witnesses at the scene of a car accident for their contact information so your attorney can get in touch with them later. Witnesses play an important role in personal injury cases because they may have seen something that you and the other parties involved did not. How can your attorney get to the bottom of what they know? Here are some of the best questions to ask car accident witnesses:

When did you notice the accident?

First, your attorney will establish when the witness started to pay attention to the collision. Some witnesses may have heard the impact of the collision and turned around to look at it right as it was happening. Others may have arrived at the scene of the accident after it had happened in order to see if anyone needed help. But, the most valuable type of witness is one that saw the events leading up to the accident.

Where were you located?

It’s important to find out where the witness was located so you know how well she was able to see the accident. For example, a witness who was driving behind the two vehicles involved in the accident would probably have a good view of what happened, but a witness who was driving in the opposite direction may not have been able to see things so clearly.

What did you see or hear?

Ask the witness to recount what he saw and heard on the day of the accident in as much detail as possible. Was one party driving erratically prior to the accident? Did he notice the either driver speeding or failing to obey traffic lights? Did either driver beep their horn at any point before the accident? Were turning signals used? These are all important questions that can be used to establish fault in the accident.

Can you draw a diagram?

If the interview is conducted in person, it’s helpful to ask the witness to draw a diagram that shows the positioning of each vehicle, the roads, and traffic lights or signs. Ask the witness to include as much information as possible so this diagram can be used to prove the other driver was at fault for the accident.

Remember, let your attorney handle the questioning. Don’t try to speak to a witness at the scene unless you are just asking for their contact information.

At Reisch Law Firm, interviewing witnesses is just one of the many ways our personal injury attorneys gather valuable car accident evidence. We conduct thorough investigations to gather as much evidence as possible so we can help you recover the compensation that you deserve. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.