Steps to take if you are in a car accident
Review these steps and you know will know what to do immediately after a car accident occurs.
Call the police and get a police report
Many times people will cause an accident and admit fault at the scene only to change their story later after talking to their insurance company. Get a police officer to come to the scene and create a report. The accident report is most useful to settle your claim quickly. If, for some reason you cannot have the police come to the scene, request the other driver to write an admission of fault, sign and date it. This can be written on any piece of paper, even a napkin.
Take photos and video
Take photos of the other drivers, their driver’s license(s) and insurance cards. If your car crash results in a lawsuit this data is needed to locate the person who caused the crash and serve them with legal papers. Without good contact information it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to serve them with the lawsuit. Therefore, this could delay your case indefinitely and even cause you to lose your case.
Drivers are required by law to give you this information:
(Texas Transportation Code, Sec. 550.023)
- Name of other drivers
- Address of other drivers
- Registration number of the vehicle
- Name and policy number of insurance company.
While not required by law, we recommend that you also record the following information:
- Phone number
- License plate number
- Year, make and model of vehicle
- Email address
Record the witness contact information, including their home address, email address and phone numbers. Check with businesses in the vicinity to see if any patrons or employees witnessed the accident. Ask the businesses if they have any surveillance video that may have captured the accident.
Take photos or video
Record the entire scene in addition to the property damage and any injuries on your body (bruises, cuts, scrapes).
Take detailed notes including:
- location with street name and address – (photo of street signs and other markers)
- description of how the collision occurred is especially relevant
- vehicle details
- traveling, speed, weather/road conditions
- describe how you were feeling in addition to recording your injuries
- draw a diagram of the crash site and position of vehicles after impact
Practice safety at the crash scene
- turn on hazard lights
- stay in your vehicle if it is not safe to exit.
- leave seatbelt and the seatbelt of all passengers fastened
- call 911
- do not walk in or stand near traffic
- never leave the scene without exchanging information and rendering aid (In Texas, you can be charged with the misdemeanor offense of Failure to Stop and Give Information or a felony offense of Failing to Stop and Render Aid (See Texas Transportation Code, Sec. 550.021 and 550.023).
See a doctor immediately
Go to the emergency room and call your primary care physician and schedule an appointment to tell them about the accident and your injuries. The first thing insurance companies do is attack your medical treatment, or lack of it. Hence any gaps in your medical care will be used against you later, even if you have a good reason for not going such as childcare or work.
Do Not post about the accident on social media
Refrain from posting anything on social media until your claim is settled. Insurance companies search social media for claimants in order to get information. Posts you make on social media sites can be used against you, even if they were made innocently.
Contact an attorney to help you evaluate the situation
Call an attorney right away. A good attorney can help gather scene and witness information and also help you get the medical care you need. You can call us anytime at 713-936-9496. Our initial consultation is free. If we accept your case we will work on a contingent fee basis which means you pay for our services only if you recover a monetary award.
Never give a statement to the at-fault party or their insurance carrier
These statements can be used against you later. The only time you should give a statement is when your attorney recommends it and is present at the time the statement is given. A good attorney will insist on being present any time they authorize you to give a statement.
Keep a detailed journal
A daily journal covering your daily pain, physical limitations and how that is affecting you and your family is invaluable. The settlement phase of a personal injury claim can take some time and your attorney can best represent you to the adjuster or to the jury if you have good notes. Record in detail how the accident affected your life and your family’s life on a daily basis. The story of your car accident in detail is especially relevant in creating your case.