a wrecked car

If There is a Question About Liability, Contact an Attorney

I periodically try to provide guidance to folks about when to contact an attorney in my blogs and there have been a couple of situations that have come up recently which would make you want to contact an attorney at your earliest opportunity after a collision (no, you don’t need to be able to reach an office at 5:30 on a weekend so don’t buy into that). One of those situations is where there is any question about who was responsible, or the party at-fault. Similarly, it’s not unusual for the actual party at-fault to deny responsibility for their own actions and blame the person they just injured. If that happens or if law enforcement doesn’t know who to blame and tickets both parties, you need to contact us as soon as you can. The reason is that the first thing we ever have to prove to a jury is the liability, or responsibility is more accurate, of the at-fault party causing the collision. If you don’t establish liability of the other driver it can make the case much harder to prove, and since Colorado is a state of comparative negligence, if you don’t prove the other party was at least 50.1% responsible, you lose the entire case.

The Black Box can be Very Important

So why is it important to contact us quickly? It’s because technology has been becoming more and more ingrained in auto manufacturing, especially the use of black boxes in cars. For those of you that do not know, black boxes in cars are the same concept that has been used for decades in airplanes to allow accident investigators to have a recording of what exactly was going on in the vehicle right before the collision. It records speed, whether the driver increased speed before impact, when the brakes were applied and other information. So why the hurry? It’s because it has come to our attention that following a collision, insurance companies are totaling and selling vehicles for scrap incredibly quickly. This can be as quickly as a matter of a few weeks or less. Are they intentionally trying to hide or destroy evidence, or is this just efficient business (when they sell to scrap yards or other vendors to recover some value, the vehicle is often parted out, or simply destroyed)? Well, if they know that their insured is going to blame the other party, don’t you think they should have an obligation to preserve that information in order to allow the parties to find the truth? Unfortunately, we don’t have that requirement at this time, but we do have a means by which we can prevent the insurance company and responsible party from benefitting from the car’s loss if the case were to end up in a trial, but it has to be done quickly after the issue is identified, so contacting us very early after the accident is important to allow us to take measures to address an insurer’s potential destruction of evidence through their business practices.

If Police Didn’t Respond, Contact an Attorney

Now, don’t get me wrong. Most of the time liability is pretty clear and is established easily by law enforcement who usually do a good job. But if you feel like police did very little, or if you have cold reporting (days when road conditions are too bad for law enforcement to respond to non-critical collisions), or if law enforcement just doesn’t respond (it happens), then contact us and run through it with us so we can at least give you feedback (side note: if no police respond, see my blog on measures you should take at the scene to protect yourself).

Finally, there may be other times you need to act quickly so if you have any questions, take the safe approach and reach out to us. It doesn’t cost you anything and could save you a lot of hassle.