How to Proceed Immediately After a Car Accident
Being involved in a car accident is stressful and can be very scary. Anything can happen on the road, so it is wise to be prepared for it all.
What Do I Need?
When operating a vehicle, you need the following documents:
- Driver’s license
- Proof of insurance
- Vehicle registration
It’s important to keep these documents with you at all times to avoid being caught in a bind if something happens.
Crash! Smash! Crunch! What Now?
It is helpful to know the steps to take when you are involved in a car accident before the time comes. Review the following tips so you can be prepared if you ever need the information:
- Check for bodily injuries. Not all injuries sustained in a crash will present themselves immediately. When we go into shock, our bodies tend to hide pain we experience as a survival mechanism. Review your body for any possible damage. Although it may be difficult, it is best to stay calm. After taking account of your injuries, check on your passengers and the occupants of the vehicle you collided with.
Call the police. Report any injuries or fatalities and request emergency medical services
if needed. Let the dispatcher know about any leaking fluids, broken glass,
- Make the dispatcher aware of your location and which direction you were traveling when the accident occurred. Try to provide the most accurate description of your whereabouts so the authorities can make it to you as quickly as possible.
- Regardless of how severe the accident is, it is always a good idea to file a police report. A police report can help tremendously throughout your case by providing authoritative information.
Stay on the scene. It may be tempting to leave and get away from the situation, but you should
resist. Texas assesses harsh penalties to people who flee serious accidents.
- If your vehicle is impeding traffic, move it to avoid further collisions. Take photos of the vehicles before moving them so that you can provide this documentation to the insurance companies.
- Listen to the authorities. When the police show up, follow their directions and be as cooperative as possible. Answer their questions truthfully and remain on the scene until they say you can go. If they recommend you visit the hospital in an ambulance, do it.
Assemble the data and take photographs. If you want to prove the accident isn’t your fault, it is crucial
you provide as much evidence as attainable. It is possible to claim compensation
for medical expenses, lost wages, and vehicle damage. Gather as much information
as feasible early in the process so you can make it easier to prove your
innocence down the line.
- Be sure to collect the following information from the other driver and their passengers:
- Driver’s licenses, proof of insurance, addresses, phone numbers, and vehicle registration. Take photos of these documents.
- Photograph the scene of the accident. Make sure you take photos of the damage to your car as well as the other driver’s vehicle. Do this from several angles.
- Photograph the license plates of all vehicles involved.
- Gather witnesses’ names and contact information.
- Photos and videos can add tremendous value to your case. It is wise to record any instances of intoxicated drivers, potholes, weather conditions, and road interferences. This documentation helps prove your assertions and will come in handy if someone else involved in the accident attempts to make false declarations to protect themselves from fault.
- Within 10 days following the incident, you will receive a police report. Filing a report is legally required when more than $1,000 of property damage is accrued, or when a fatality or serious injury occurs.
Call the insurance company. It is likely written in your contract with the insurance company that
you are required to report an accident within a reasonable period of time.
While you should absolutely do this, it is wise to keep a few things in mind:
- The insurance company may try to trick you into saying things that could hold you liable. Avoid making the call when you are in a heightened emotional state or on mind-altering medications.
- You may have someone else do the talking for you. In order to avoid the insurance company using your words against you, you may have someone else, such as an attorney, family member, or spouse, make the call for you. They may relay the same information to the insurance company as you, but they cannot hurt your claim in the same ways you can.
- Insurance companies are in the business of closing claims. Unless you make it known you expect due diligence on their part, beware of the nature of closing claims. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to lay the fault entirely on their own claimant in order to reduce the amount of time the claim remains open.
- Pursue medical attention. Your injuries may not be obvious or immediate. Make sure you are checked out by medical professionals to avoid any injuries that may set in later on. It is common for whiplash and concussions to occur during car accidents, but the symptoms of these ailments aren’t always easily observed. Make sure you receive medical treatment right away to avoid any late-onset conditions.
- Contact a lawyer. If your insurance claim was denied or your settlement doesn’t cover your injuries and damages, it is wise to contact a local personal injury attorney.
Our attorneys at Templeton Smithee Hayes Heinrich & Russell, LLP have over 200 years of combined experience and are dedicated to providing the best legal representation possible in order to maintain a reputation of success.
Call our firm today at (806) 397-0300 or complete an online form. We represent clients in the Texas panhandle and Eastern New Mexico.