All the things that make western Colorado a wonderful place to live can also make it a challenging place to drive. Our iconic mountains are crossed by steep and winding two-lane highways. Our rugged mountains and desert plains can swing between temperature and weather extremes in a matter of minutes.
In short, while our state’s natural landscape is undeniably breathtaking, it can be treacherous to navigate in a car.
If you’ve lived in Durango, Colorado a long time, you know that certain times of year require you to be extra cautious while driving. Depending on the weather and time of day, even experienced drivers can suffer from 7% grades, sun glare, slick roads caused by sudden changes in temperature, or the sudden occurrence of a truck tire blowout.
Durango brings in 1.2 million visitors per year, especially during ski season (January to March) and the summer (June-September). This influx of tourists means a lot of people on the roads who aren’t familiar with Colorado’s terrain and weather. It also means vehicles of all shapes and sizes—trucks, SUVs, camper vans, recreational vehicles, tour buses, trailers and much more—are sharing the road with you and other Colorado drivers.
Even when you are using caution and following traffic laws, you cannot always guarantee your safety on the road. The following article is meant to help you understand the top causes of car accidents in Colorado, and what you can do if you are involved in a car accident.
If you have been involved in a car accident in the Durango area and are not sure what to do, contact Harlan Law.
What To Do After A Car Accident
This is a question most of us have been in the unfortunate position of having to ask. Many of us, including myself, do not find out the answers until it is too late. Here is a guide regarding some things to consider doing in the wake of auto, motorcycle, bicycle or trucking accident.
1) Check for injuries
If a driver is intoxicated or if someone is injured, even a minor injury, you should call 911. You may need emergency services and will almost certainly need a police report. The police report can be a tool to corroborate exactly what occurred. In some states, like California, the police will not come to the scene unless someone is injured or intoxicated. Obviously, if you are seriously injured, call an ambulance and seek treatment immediately.
2) Obtain the other driver’s contact info
While this is a no-brainer, you need to know exactly what to obtain. People are often reluctant to share information so you can ask for everything and settle on what you absolutely need. You must obtain the:
- license plate number;
- make, model and year of the vehicle;
- name of the driver;
- telephone number of the driver;
- and name of other driver’s insurance company.
If the other driver is cooperative, you should also obtain his or her driver’s license number and their insurance policy number. However, all of this will usually be contained in a police report, if one is made.
We also suggest avoiding saying or doing anything that would admit fault. Many of us want to get out of cars’ and say “I’m so sorry” even if we might not be sure we caused the accident. It’s a human response. However, this can be used against you. Take time to speak with an attorney who can research the law and determine who is likely to be at fault – sometimes it is surprising.
3) Take pictures of the scene and damage
If you can safely do so, and you’ve got your phone camera handy, take some pictures of tire marks, car damage (inside and out), and the location of the vehicles when they came to rest. This is important to document in case an expert needs to testify about how an accident occurred at a later time.
4) Contact Your Insurance Company
Reach out to your insurance company to report the claim once you are able to sit down and do so. Until you speak with a lawyer, it is rarely a good idea to provide yours or the other driver’s insurance company with any sort of “recorded” statement. Often times the insurance company is looking to limit their liability and exposure and recording your spur of the moment thoughts is a common tactic.
After all this, you’re going to need to talk to someone about how to deal with your medical and property damage bills. Most Durango personal injury attorneys, including Jordon Harlan at Harlan Law PC, will gladly speak with you during a free consultation to determine if they can be of help.
How to Prevent Colorado Car Accidents
- Leave a generous following distance behind the car in front of you. This is especially important during inclement weather. A good rule of thumb is the “six-second rule”: after the car in front of you passes a given point in the road, let six seconds go by before you pass the same point.
- Make sure you have the correct air pressure in your tires. Weather in western Colorado often involves sudden shifts in temperature, which can cause your tires to lose pressure. The correct tire pressure is essential to maintaining traction with the road.
- Don’t drive while stoned. Colorado’s marijuana legalization is no excuse for driving under the influence. Marijuana use can easily lead to impaired judgment and slower reaction times, and the effects can be intensified in higher elevation areas.
- Don’t drive distracted. Texting is the most infamous cause of distracted driving these days. But other distractions like eating, grooming, and even talking on a hands-free phone or to passengers can take away your attention at a crucial moment.
- Keep an eye out for recreational vehicles and out-of-state license plates. Thanks to Durango’s beautiful scenery, visitors from other states are more likely to speed up and slow down without warning while trying to take in the view. Even fellow Colorado residents may let down their guard while driving if they are in “vacation mode.” If you notice a vehicle that has out-of-state plates or is loaded with recreational gear, keep your awareness high and give them a wide berth.
- Keep an eye open for wildlife. This is especially important during spring and fall, the prime seasons for wildlife to be active in Colorado. Statistics show that car accidents involving wildlife rank are the third leading cause for crashes in the state. http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/AvoidWildlifeCollisions.aspx
- Ask others to buckle up. An unbuckled passenger in your vehicle increases your risk of being hurt or killed by 40 percent.
- If you do get into a crash, do your best to move out of traffic. Every year, Colorado drivers suffer thousands of secondary accidents and hundreds of injuries that could have been prevented if the vehicles had moved off the road to a safer location while waiting for police. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/csp/move-your-crash-colorado
To ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation that you deserve after your Colorado car accident, call Harlan Law for a free, no-obligation consultation of your case.
Get An Attorney Who Understands
After you’ve suffered an injury from a car accident, the days and weeks that follow can be incredibly stressful. The physical pain, doctor appointments, and anxiety start to take their toll fast. Dealing with bills and insurance companies can overwhelm anyone.
Colorado accident attorney Jordan Harlan can help during these trying times. You deserve financial compensation that covers the costs of your medical treatment, out of pocket expenses as well as any income you’ve lost, and he has the experience to honor your rights.
Along with a proven track record of trying cases to verdict, Jordon has driven and motorcycled along the same roads as you. From Cortez to Chimney Rock and day trips to Telluride, Jordon knows these roads inside and out. He also knows where accidents can and do happen.
Whether mediating your situation with medical care providers or persuading a hospital to hold off their payment demands until you’ve received your settlement, a law firm’s help will preserve your peace of mind as you navigate the complexities of the healthcare system.
By focusing on your healing, you will be able to get back on your feet and back to your life as quickly as possible. Contact Harlan Law today and start your road to recovery.