As a car accident lawyer, I see the devastation that follows a car accident each and every day. Think about it, you are driving along without a care in the world, all things seem to be going your way, and then Wham, another driver was not paying attention, and you wake up in the hospital. Who is going to pay your bills? Who is going to fix your car? These and other questions are normally asked when a client contacts us for the first time. The most important things to remember after you are in a car accident are:
1. Keep your wits about you
Call 911 to report the accident and any injuries. In the State of Texas, you are required to have a crash report completed if the crash results in death, bodily injury or damage to property of at least $500.00. With the way cars are built today and the price of auto parts being what it is, very rarely will you be involved in a fender bender which will result in less than $500.00 in damages. So, if you are in doubt, it is a good policy to notify your law enforcement officials immediately.
2. Secure the area
You do not want to have secondary injuries or property damage. If the cars are in a position where they can be hit again, move them to a safer location. Turn off the ignitions of all cars involved in the accident. DO NOT move anyone who was injured in the accident, unless they are in imminent danger, leave that decision to the paramedics or other health care professionals. If you have any blankets, jackets or other garments, try to keep all injured parties warm.
3. Cooperate with the Police
You do not want to be involved in any other post-accident altercations with the other party, the accident is traumatic enough. Please do not argue with the other party. If they were at fault, they are already under a tremendous amount of stress, especially if they injured someone. If someone begins yelling and screaming at them, the situation will escalate and get out of hand quickly. Remain calm and tell the police exactly what happened in as much detail as you can recall.
4. Driver’s Information Exchange
Again, please don’t discuss who was at fault in the accident, but do exchange information with the other driver or drivers. Please exchange, your driver’s license information, insurance information and registration information. You will need to provide the accident information to your insurance company when you report the claim.
5. Collect Witness Information
Witnesses play a key role in proving liability. Even if the other driver admits to the police that he or she was at fault, you may still have to prove the matter later. Accordingly, please gather the names, home addresses and phone numbers and work addresses and phone numbers of all witnesses. Even if they didn’t see the accident, but came on the scene later, they may still recall some key information to your case.
6. Medical Attention
If you need medical attention, please seek the attention you need. You may wish to go to the emergency room, or you may have some other means of seeking medical attention. Please do so, for your own piece of mind. If you have a prior injury, make an appointment with the medical provider, as soon as possible, who either was or is treating you for the prior condition.
We highly advise you to keep a disposable camera in the glove compartment just in case an accident happens. Photograph the damages to both vehicles (even damage that couldn’t have happened in this accident) as well as skid marks or other physical evidence of how the accident happened. Additionally, please photograph any physical injuries that you sustained.
8. Protect Yourself
You are under an obligation to cooperate with your insurance company, but as you and I know, insurance companies do not always have your best interests at heart. Remember, if insurance companies treated people fairly and honestly, I wouldn’t have a job. You are under no such obligation to cooperate with the other person’s insurance company. Accordingly, you should seriously consider speaking with a lawyer prior to giving a statement to either insurance company.
9. Contact Us As Soon As Possible
Put our experience to work for you. We can help you on the road to recovery. No-one likes to think about car accidents, but when that day comes, isn’t it nice to know that you have someone with answers to the tough questions, who is looking out for your interests, and is willing to protect your legal rights. You do not want to settle your claim for less than its full value.