What to Do After A Car Accident in Texas

After a car accident, it is essential to remain composed and follow certain steps to safeguard your rights. These steps will not only ensure your safety but also help you gather crucial information for your insurance claim or potential need to file a lawsuit.

If you find yourself involved in a car wreck, our Texas car accident lawyers are ready to assist you in knowing what to do after a car accident. We possess the necessary expertise in handling auto accident cases to help you navigate through this often complex and stressful process.

Rear end car accident with a man and woman talking - What to do after an accident in Texas

1. Remain at the Accident Scene

Texas Transportation Code § 550.021 requires you to stay at the scene of a car accident, especially if there are any injuries. Leaving the scene could result in hit-and-run charges which carry severe penalties. Staying at the accident scene allows you to provide your account of the incident to law enforcement officials, ensuring a more balanced and thorough accident report. It also gives you an opportunity to gather evidence from the scene, take photographs, and exchange information with the other drivers involved.

2. Get to a Safe Location

If it is safe to do so and your vehicle is not severely damaged, move it out of the flow of traffic to a safe location to prevent additional collisions with other vehicles. If your car is undrivable, turn on your hazard lights and walk to a safe location on the side of the road. Always prioritize your safety and that of others. Cars and property can be replaced or repaired; human lives cannot.

3. Limit Communication to Exchanging Information

Other than exchanging information, do not discuss the accident with the other driver. Tex. Transp. Code § 550.023 requires you to exchange certain information with the other driver(s) involved in an accident. This includes your name, address, and vehicle registration number. If asked, you should also provide your driver’s license number. Take note of the other driver’s insurance information as well, including the name of the insurance company and the policy number.

If there are injuries or property damage exceeding $1,000, Tex. Transp. Code § 550.026 requires you to report the car accident to the police. If the police can’t arrive at the scene, you should file a crash report, also known as “CR-2 Blue form,” through the Texas Department of Transportation within 10 days of the accident. Your police crash report will typically be available within 7 to 10 days after the accident is reported.

4. Inform the Police

Making the call to 911 after a car accident is of high importance. Do so yourself rather than relying on the other driver. There are several reasons you should call 911:

  1. It ensures emergency services, including police and medical assistance, are dispatched to the scene promptly.
  2. When you personally make the call, you have the opportunity to provide a first-hand account of the incident to the emergency dispatcher.
  3. Even if the accident seems minor, a 911 call officially documents the incident, providing an unbiased third-party record.

5. Get Medical Care

Regardless of the severity of the crash, seek medical attention immediately after a car accident. Injuries sustained during a car wreck are often not immediately visible or noticeable and may take hours, or even days, to manifest. Seeking prompt medical attention allows any injuries to be diagnosed and treated early, potentially minimizing their long-term impact.  Additionally, documenting physical complaints in your medical records provides evidence of the harm you suffered due to the car accident, helping substantiate your claim for compensation.

6. Gather Evidence

Photograph the scene of the accident, your injuries, and any damage to your vehicle. If there are eyewitnesses, ask for their contact information and statements regarding what they observed. Evidence also includes the police report, medical reports, and any communications with the other driver or their insurance company. Gathering this information achieves the following benefits:

  • It provides a factual basis for your insurance claim or legal case, showing the extent of your damages and injuries.
  • It helps establish the other driver’s negligence if you decide to pursue a lawsuit.
  • It can be used to counter any inconsistencies or inaccuracies in the other driver’s account of the accident, particularly if they are claiming you are at fault for the accident.

7. Contact Your Insurance Company

It’s important to contact your insurance company and inform them of the collision to initiate the property damage claims process. Your insurer can guide you through the necessary steps and help you understand what your policy covers, such as a diminished value claim. Remember, it’s essential to be truthful and provide a comprehensive account of the incident to avoid complications in the claims process.

Refrain from speaking directly to the other driver’s insurance company without consulting with your insurer or attorney. The other party’s insurer may try to settle the claim quickly and for as little money as possible. They may attempt to get you to admit fault or downplay the extent of your injuries, which could significantly affect your claim. Instead, refer them to your insurance company or legal counsel.

8. Purchase Your Police Crash Report

The crash report provides an unbiased assessment of the incident. It includes essential details such as the date, time, and location of the accident, the parties involved, statements from the drivers and witnesses, diagram of the accident scene, apparent damages, and any citations issued. A police crash report can help establish liability by outlining the circumstances leading to the accident and identifying any traffic violations. Insurance companies heavily rely on this report to determine fault when settling claims.

You can purchase your crash report online through TxDOT’s Crash Report Online Purchase System. You will need to provide details of the accident, such as the date of the crash, county in which it occurred, and the name of any involved party. After locating your report, you can make a secure payment and download the report.

9. Contact an Accident Attorney

If you’ve been in a car accident, contacting an accident attorney can be essential in securing maximum compensation for your personal injury damages. Our attorneys can guide you through the legal process by helping establish negligence and liability, negotiate settlements, and represent you in court. Hiring our attorneys also allows you to focus on your recovery while they handle the legal aspects of your situation. Don’t hesitate to seek professional legal assistance after a car accident. Contact Thompson Law today.

10. Create a Records File

You should keep a record of the following evidence:

  • Diary:  Keep a diary to provide a comprehensive record of your physical and emotional wellbeing following the incident. Documenting your experiences, injuries, medical treatments, pain levels, and emotional state can significantly assist in your claims process.
  • Expenses:  Maintain a detailed record of your expenses. This folder should include receipts for medical treatments, physical therapy, medications, and any assistive devices such as wheelchairs or crutches. It should also document other accident-related expenses, such as repair costs for your vehicle, rental car fees, and property damages.
  • Lost Wages:  If the accident resulted in missed work, it’s important to document lost income as well.

Insurance companies require solid evidence of your losses when determining compensation. Therefore, diligent record-keeping is a proactive measure that can significantly enhance your chances of obtaining fair compensation after an auto accident.

Conclusion: What to Do After a Car Accident

Once you have taken the above steps after a car accident, remain patient. The injury claims process can often be long, complex, and time-consuming. It’s vital to remain patient and persistent throughout this process to ensure you receive the fair and full compensation you deserve.

Insurance companies may use various tactics to frustrate claimants, hoping they will either under-settle or abandon their claims. They might delay the process intentionally, deny the claim outright, or offer lower settlements, hoping you are desperate and give up. These strategies prey upon the claimant’s stress and impatience, pushing them to settle for less than what they are rightfully owed.

Understanding these tactics can help you maintain your patience and resilience during the claims process. Our experienced car accident attorneys can safeguard your interests, helping you navigate these tactics while advocating for your fair compensation. Contact us today.

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State law limits the time you have to file a claim after an auto accident. If you have been injured in an accident, call now to get the help you need.