I Was Just In A Car Wreck.
A car wreck is traumatizing experience, making it hard to know what to do immediately afterward. If the car crash caused significant injuries, you be stuck with costly medical bills and forced to miss weeks of work. You may have a right to seek compensation for your medical bills and related expenses from the other driver who was at fault. The actions you take after a car accident can make all the difference in whether you have a successful car accident claim.
Here are some basic steps to take after a car accident:
1. Call The Police And Remain At The Scene
Dial 911 to report the accident. Don’t rely on the other driver to report it. The other party involved might also try to persuade you from calling for emergency assistance by mentioning their insurance rates, driving history, or a lack of structural damage to the cars, but it is essential to gain the assistance of a police officer to protect your health and others. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, approximately 80% of drivers in Texas carry at least the minimum amount of coverage. However, 20% or one-fifth of the driving population does not carry insurance. Meaning there are over 3,000,000 individuals in the state of Texas driving with no insurance. So, make sure you call the police.
The responding officer will file a Texas Crash Report that includes the contact information of drivers involved, along with their auto insurance company and policy number. The officer will also investigate the factors that contributed to causing the accident and make a determination of who was at-fault. Any traffic citations issued by the police officer will help an attorney when seeking compensation for any innocent drivers, passengers, or pedestrians hurt in the wreck.
If you’re involved in a car accident, Texas law requires you to stay at the scene of the crash if there are damages to the vehicles, or if the accident caused a person involved to suffer injuries. While that may sound obvious, hit and runs are illegal and carry hefty criminal implications in our state. Stay safe and err on the side of caution by remaining at the accident until the police arrive. You could be injured and not even realize it, so it is a best practice to obtain medical care from paramedics while at the scene even if you feel only mild sensations or discomfort.
2. Get To A Safe Location
If your vehicle is in a dangerous position that may cause more harm to you or others on the roadway, it is vital to get out of harm’s way by moving the vehicle to a safe area. Pull to the emergency lane or into a nearby parking lot, if possible. Once you have confidently done this, check to make sure those involved in the crash are unharmed. Start with any passengers in your vehicle, and then check on the other motorist. If there are any babies or small children with your, gently ensure they are capable of performing normal movement without indicating that they are in destress. You may be the only person who can provide first aid or prevent an additionally dangerous situation from happening until emergency responders arrive.
3. Exchange Information
While waiting for the police to arrive you should request that the parties involved exchange insurance coverage information. Texas law actually requires that motorists engage in this exchange while at the crash site. Do not rely on the police to obtain these details later, because sometimes they won’t, so expedite the process. Even in cases where the investigating officer secures the contact information of each driver, you still may have to wait until the Crash Report releases to receive these details (which sometimes take between 7-10 business days). So, take the initiative of capturing a picture of the other driver’s license and insurance card if you can. Also, write down, or better yet take pictures of the make and model of the car, license plate number, and any other identifying details about their vehicles.
4. Check To See If You Are Injured And Request Medical Care, If Necessary
If you feel any pain or new sensations after being involved in an automobile accident – even something as small as lightheadedness or a headache – request an ambulance to the hospital from the scene. After being involved in a car accident in Texas, it is critically important that you receive prompt medical treatment and observation from an emergency room. Additionally, certain life-threatening complications, such as internal bleeding, bone fractures, and concussions, might not manifest until later, but can be detected during the initial trauma assessment.
Additionally, the medical records associated with your claim help establish your right to compensation by describing the mechanism of injury and evidencing your grievances. After being discharged by a hospital or emergency room, keep a hold of this documentation as your attorney will want to review it.
Do not discuss fault
Even if you think that you caused the accident, don’t admit fault or say anything about how it happened. While it might seem like the “right” thing to do at the time, it can significantly impact your case later on. It is up to courts or insurance companies to determine who is at fault, so simply gather the information necessary, and let others make the required determinations.
5. Preserve Evidence
If it is safe to do so, jot down notes about what happened at the scene before you forget any helpful details. You don’t want to later forget critical evidence that would make or break your right to a settlement or award. If you have a cell phone with a voice recording, open a new memo to record notes more rapidly and refer to later. If possible, take a video recording of the post-accident scene. Try to capture the position of the vehicles, along with evidence such as tire tread marks, broken glass, deployed airbags, or similar. Video footage has little room for interpretation later. If the person who hit you admits to causing the crash, make sure you try to capture this on video.
6. Contact Your Insurance Company (not theirs)
As soon as you can, notify your insurance company of the car accident. Make sure to tell the claims handler or adjuster whether you were injured in the accident, even if your pain level is mild at the time. If your insurance policy includes automobile collision benefits, then you have the option of having your car inspected and repaired when you report the claim, or you can wait until the insurance company of the other driver accepts fault.
Do not speak to the other party’s insurance without legal representation. Even if you believe that only the actions of the driver caused the collision, insurance company’s train their adjusters to analyze the facts independently and they often attempt to re-apportion fault after taking your recorded statement. Your attorney will most likely not allow the insurance to take your statement and instead speak entirely on your behalf. Under no circumstances should you agree to give a recorded statement.
7. Purchase The Crash Report
Don’t forget to get a copy of the crash report. The police officer who investigated the traffic accident will complete a report that includes the information needed to process your insurance claim. These reports are usually available for pickup from local law enforcement agencies within seven to ten days of the date of the crash. Most completed reports can by purchased through the Texas Department of Transportation’s online purchase system, found here. If another agency completed the report, you can also purchase a certified or uncertified copy of the report by inputting information related to the crash into the search portal of Crash Dot or Lexis Nexis.
8. Contact An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney In Texas
The steps you take immediately after a car accident really do matter. If you have been injured in a crash caused by another motorist and you follow the steps outlined above, you will be better positioned to file a claim. You should not have to pay your medical bills and car repairs out of pocket. You may be entitled to collect compensation from the other driver’s insurance to cover your medical expenses, lost income, car repairs and related costs. Let our attorneys review the details of your collision and discuss your rights to pursue a car accident injury claim. The case review is free and will provide you with an understanding of your legal options.
The Law Office of Ajay R. Shah
We are an established Texas law firm with Spanish and English-speaking staff to assist you. Our attorneys have helped thousands of injured people seek full and fair compensation after serious accidents because of the negligence of others.
Call today for a free review of your car accident case.