Five Steps to Take After a Car Accident
During 2017, Texas logged more than 272 billion miles on roadways from all types of vehicles. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that during the year, there was a reportable crash every 59 seconds. Think about that—every minute, a crash required reporting. Every driver on Texas roadways should have an idea of what they should do after an auto accident which occurs on Texas roadways. Here are some tips which can help you stay within the law and preserve your rights after a car accident in Texas, for more legal advice turn to a trusted auto incident attorney.
Step One: Ensure Everyone is Safe
The first thing you should do immediately following any type of car accident is to ensure everyone remains safe at the scene of the accident. Whenever possible, vehicles involved should be moved from the roadway and drivers and passengers alike should get as far off the roadway as logistically possible. Should anyone be injured, you should do whatever you can to render assistance and immediately contact 911.
Step Two: Contact Law Enforcement
Under Texas roadway rules, any accident which results in injury or renders a vehicle disabled must be reported. The same is true should one driver flee the scene, have no insurance, or appears to be intoxicated. Drivers should use caution when discussing the accident with law enforcement about placing or accepting blame for the accident. Keep in mind, in some cases, victims may apologize to the other driver or give some indication to peace officers the accident may have been their fault. This could prove to be problematic later. You need only provide the law enforcement officers at the scene your name, contact information, provide proof of insurance, and proof of registration. Outside of that information, it’s often wise to decline to answer any further questions.
Step Three: Gather Information and Evidence
Provided you do not have a serious injury, you should take some time to gather information and potential evidence at the scene of an accident. Fortunately, today’s technology enables most of us to take photographs with our cell phones. Document as much as possible including:
- Location of the accident – Photos of the location including signage, signals, or intersections may be useful later. Road conditions such as potholes, standing water, etc. should also be documented.
- Photos of damage – Photographing damage to the vehicles involved in the accident can be useful should you need to show proof of damage, particularly if you have had to move a car out of traffic.
- Photograph your injuries – If you have visible injuries, whenever possible you should photograph them. If it is not possible to do so at the scene, this should be done as quickly as possible.
Make sure you have obtained the names, addresses and contact information for the other drivers as well as any passengers in any vehicles involved in a car accident. In addition, if there are witnesses to the accident, you should obtain their contact information.
Remember, you do not want to interfere with law enforcement activity at the scene of the accident, but you have the right to obtain information. Should the other driver(s) refuse to cooperate and provide you with information, document as much as you can about their mannerisms, their license plate information, and other pertinent information. If you can, make a diagram of the accident scene—law enforcement officers may do this, and if you can’t do so at the scene, do it as soon as possible after you seek medical treatment.
Step Four: Seek Medical Attention
Even if you do not believe you have sustained an injury, you should still see a doctor as soon as is practical after an accident. Oftentimes, car accident victims have a surge in adrenaline immediately following an accident. Adrenaline surges can mask pain, even in cases of broken bones. If you do not go to an emergency room, contact your personal physician to be evaluated as soon as possible after an accident.
Step Five: Notify Your Insurance Company
Notifying your insurance company as quickly as possible after an auto accident helps document the accident and protects your rights under your auto insurance policy. Most insurance companies have specific requirements regarding when they must be notified. In all cases, before your insurance company can investigate a claim, they must have full information about the accident. Remember, you do not have to answer questions an insurance adjuster asks you about the details of the accident, in most cases, you are better off refraining from providing too much information without seeking the guidance of a car accident attorney in Texas.
Texas Car Accidents and Injuries
There is little doubt being involved in a car accident can be life-altering. While many suffer only minor injuries, some people suffer significant injuries which can result in long-term health issues, substantial medical bills, and life-long pain. Serious injuries can result in financial uncertainty, particularly if you are unable to return to work following a car accident. Victims often rush to settle with their insurance company because they are living with financial uncertainty.
Most insurance companies prefer you to settle as quickly as possible because it saves them money over time. Some victims of a car accident may not realize they are facing long-term issues—settling your claim too soon can result in future financial challenges, particularly if you later develop problems as a result of an injury. Before you agree to a settlement, it may be wise to contact an attorney familiar with Texas car accident law.