When you have been a victim of an accident on a Texas roadway and suffer an injury, you need to know what steps you should take next. An accident can cause shock, confusion, and pain. Therefore, thinking ahead about what you should do in the event of an accident can help you take the right actions. In the aftermath of an accident you didn’t cause, that means hiring a car accident lawyer.
You’re not alone in this need. Across Texas, thousands of roadway accidents take place every year. Halfway through one recent year, more than 20,000 roadway accidents resulted in injury or death on Texas roadways alone.
Accidents occur for many reasons, some of which include:
- Drunk or otherwise impaired drivers;
- Drivers distracted by cell phones or other electronics; and
- Drivers who fail to obey traffic signals or speed limits.
If you wound up in one of those accidents, a car accident lawyer can help you.
Safety Is a Key Concern
The first thing you need to worry about is not winding up with more serious injuries because your location is unsafe. If you are capable of doing so, get your car out of the roadway and get to a safer location along the side of the road. If you cannot move your car out of the roadway, turn on your flashers so other vehicles approaching your car can get out of the way.
Injuries to Passengers, Other Drivers, and Yourself
Check to see if your passengers, the other driver and their passengers, and anyone else involved is injured and needs medical attention. While Texas does not require you to provide aid to anyone at the scene of an accident, The Good Samaritan Act may protect you. Contact emergency medical services if anyone is injured.
Notify Law Enforcement Officers
Texas Transportation Code § 601.004 requires a police report anytime damages to vehicles or people exceed $1,000. Police will file a report that contains the required information, including:
- The date, place, and time of the accident;
- All operators involved in the accident including their contact information and dates of birth;
- Licensing information for all operators as well as license plate numbers;
- Insurance information for all registered vehicle owners;
- A written report of what events occurred that resulted in the accident; and
- A description of the road and weather conditions at the time of the incident.
Make sure that when you contact law enforcement, let them know about any injuries, if anyone requires extraction from any vehicles, and whether they need to know about any hazards before arriving at the scene.
Contact Information for All Involved
While contact information will be in the accident report filed by the police, you should still obtain contact information from anyone else involved in the accident yourself. This should include their names, driver’s license numbers, insurance information, and contact information. You should make a note of the make, model, and license plate numbers of other vehicles involved. You should also get the contact information of any witnesses to the accident, as you may need them to make a statement later.
If you physically can, document the accident scene. Use your cell phone to take photographs of the cars involved and the damage, any roadway signals in the immediate vicinity, photos of debris or skid marks, and anything else that seems relevant.
Be Wary of Discussions at Scene of the Accident
Nerves can make us do things we would not otherwise do. One hazard of talking at the scene of the accident is mistakenly taking responsibility for the accident. While “I’m sorry” or “I wasn’t paying attention” may not seem like a big deal at the time, these statements could potentially cause you problems when filing claims with the relevant insurance companies.
You should avoid taking any type of responsibility for the accident, even if you believe you may have been partially at fault. This is important because the insurance companies will use anything that sounds like you claim fault to get out of paying a claim.
Seeking Medical Attention After the Accident
Many accident victims think they are uninjured and have no need to see a doctor. Regardless of how you feel immediately after an accident you should still seek medical treatment. Oftentimes, the shock and other side effects of an accident can mask symptoms and you could have hidden injuries. If you do not go directly to the hospital from the scene of the accident, make sure you see a doctor as soon as possible.
Contact an Auto Accident Attorney
There is little doubt that you have questions that need answers after an auto accident. While you need to focus on your physical recovery, you also need sound legal advice. You should contact a lawyer who has experience handling auto accident claims before you try to negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company. This protects your rights, because the insurance company will probably attempt to shift some of the blame to you, claim you are not injured, or use other similar tactics. Protect yourself by contacting an attorney.
Contacting Your Own Insurance Company
You are often obligated under your insurance policy agreement to report any accident to your own insurance company as soon as possible. However, you should not elaborate on the events of the accident, you should simply present them with the facts and let them know which law enforcement agency took the accident report so they may obtain one. If they ask you any other questions about the accident, let them know they should contact your attorney.
Documentation Following Medical Treatment
While you are recovering from your injuries, it is important to maintain a record of your visits to the doctor, medications you are prescribed as a result of your injuries, time lost from work, and any new symptoms that develop. This information could be helpful to your lawyer in assessing your claim.
Victims of an accident-related injury usually have questions and likely don’t know their rights after an accident. This is why contacting an auto accident lawyer for help is so important. The insurance companies are trying to protect themselves and they are not there to help you recover financially, they are there to pay as little as possible when a claim is filed so they can preserve their bottom lines. Protect yourself and your interests by speaking with a skilled lawyer.