When you’re driving your usual route to work or making a quick trip to the grocery store, the last thing you probably expect is another vehicle to crash into yours and leave you with serious injuries. Unfortunately, car wrecks happen unexpectedly every day in Texas. Recent statewide data from the Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) found that:
- One person is killed every 2 hours and 26 minutes
- One person is injured every 2 minutes and 3 seconds
- One reportable car crash occurs every 56 seconds
With that said, knowing what steps to take, as well as what to avoid, after a car accident can help you protect your rights to compensation when filing a claim. At Chris Morrow Law, PLLC, our goal is to help you navigate this process so you can be prepared for the unexpected.
What To Do After a Car Crash
Here is what our team recommends you do following an accident:
Call 9-1-1 or Local Law Enforcement
If you are able to do so, call 9-1-1 to report the accident. Even if you are in a seemingly minor accident, such as a fender bender, calling 9-1-1 is important as it will create a paper trail of the incident and allow you to tell your side of the story in an official police report. You’ll want to check on the well-being of the passengers in your vehicle as you wait for the police to arrive.
If possible, move your vehicle to the side of the road so it is not a hazard or blocking traffic. Otherwise, you can leave it where it is and get yourself and your passengers to safety. In the event that you are seriously hurt, ask a bystander or another person who is less injured to assist you with the steps above.
Get Medical Treatment Immediately
When you call 9-1-1 to report an accident, emergency medical responders should arrive at the scene in order to assess your injuries and take you to the nearest hospital. At the time, you may only feel sore. However, no matter how minor your injuries seem in the moment, you always want to get a proper medical diagnosis as soon as possible.
Symptoms of certain injuries take days or even weeks to manifest. Additionally, many accident victims are in shock after the fact and may not feel the full extent of their pain. If you wait an extended period of time to get your injuries checked out by a doctor, you risk the insurance company denying your claim by stating there is insufficient evidence to link your injuries to the crash.
Gather Your Own Evidence at the Scene
The evidence you collect after a scene will be used by your attorney to recreate what happened before, during, and directly after the crash. Ultimately, this will help ensure that the at-fault driver is held liable and you are not unfairly blamed for the accident when you did nothing wrong.
Start by exchanging information with the other driver, including their:
- Full name and contact information
- Insurance company and policy number
- Driver’s license and license plate number
- Type, color, and model of their vehicle
Additionally, take several photos of the scene, including the damage to all vehicles and your injuries. If there were any witnesses present, ask them for their contact information and if you can record their statement about what they saw. If you are unable to collect this evidence yourself, ask another person to do so for you.
Hire a Car Accident Attorney
Even if you have been involved in an auto accident before, the claims process is oftentimes complex and insurance companies are more likely to offer you a lowball settlement if you are filing a claim on your own.
When you’re injured in a crash, always ensure that you have a car accident attorney on your side. Attorneys deal with insurance companies on a daily basis and understand how to ensure your rights are protected while maximizing the money that goes into your pocket. This person will work as your legal advocate and take the burden off of your shoulders while you heal.
What Not to Do After a Car Crash
Knowing what not to do after a car accident is equally important as the steps you do take. After being involved in a car crash, always avoid doing the following:
Leave the Scene
Never attempt to flee the scene after a crash. In the state of Texas, anyone who is involved in a car accident that causes property damage or injury must not leave the scene of the accident before taking the following steps:
- Render aid to the injured person(s)
- Exchange driver’s license and insurance information
- If the police have been called, wait for the officer to arrive
Hit-and-run laws in Texas are vigorously enforced, and doing so can lead to a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the circumstances of the crash. For instance, fleeing the scene of an accident that causes serious injury or death can result in 2-10 years in jail.
Say That You’re Sorry
Remember that insurance companies make money by denying or devaluing claims, even those that are legitimate. One of the ways that they do this is by utilizing statements and other evidence to limit the liability of the driver they insure while putting more blame onto the injury victim.
One of the most common mistakes people make after an accident, even if they are not at fault, is to go up to the other driver exclaiming, “I’m sorry!” Even if you are simply doing this out of courtesy, it’s important to understand that the insurance company may twist this statement to claim that you were apologizing at the scene because you were the one who caused the crash.
Speak with the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
Sneaky insurance adjusters purposefully call accident victims immediately after the event in order to catch them while their guards are down. The adjuster on the phone may put on a friendly tone, making you believe that they are on your side. But do not be fooled—their job is to get you to do or say something that they could use to deny your claim.
It is advised that you don’t speak with the at-fault driver’s insurance company before hiring an attorney. An Austin car accident attorney at our firm can guide you through the claims process and advise you on what to say and avoid saying to the insurance company.
File a Claim on Your Own
Never attempt to handle your car accident claim on your own, especially when you don’t have to! Most personal injury attorneys, including the ones at Chris Morrow Law, PLLC work on contingency fee plans. This means that clients pay nothing upfront to retain our services. Instead, the fees we collect from you, as a client, are contingent upon our ability to win your case. If we are not successful, you owe absolutely nothing.
We’re Here to Help You Get Back on Your Feet
Remember it’s better to know this information and not need it, than need this information and be unsure of what to do next. Additionally, should you ever find yourself injured in a car crash in Austin, Chris Morrow Law, PLLC is here to help you recover compensation in order to pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Pursuing compensation for your injuries is not about being opportunistic. It is about ensuring you have the resources you need to physically, emotionally, and financially recover after being injured due to another person’s negligent actions. Let us focus on your case while you focus on healing.
Contact our Austin car accident attorneys at (512) 641-5232 to speak with our legal team for free today. We offer free, personalized case reviews!