What To Do After A Car Wreck in 2023
Are you in a car wreck situation? Get legal advice from Haney Paschal & Romoser. We provide vital tips on what to do after a car wreck. In 2022, the Texas Department of Transportation recorded over 640,000 car crashes statewide. Many of these collisions involved serious injuries or fatalities. If you are a car crash victim, you must protect your health, safety, finances, and legal rights. Our guide can help you understand what to do in a car accident when you’re out on the road.
Remain at the Scene
If you are involved in a car crash in Texas that damages vehicles or causes injuries, state law requires you to stay at the scene of the accident until emergency responders permit you to leave. Otherwise, you could be charged with a “hit and run” and face penalties or criminal proceedings. Remain at the crash site until police and medical personnel arrive.
Check Yourself for Injuries
After a car crash, move slowly, deliberately, and as little as necessary. Check yourself for any injuries, and keep in mind that concussions, fractures, and internal bleeding can be challenging to detect. If you have a visible severe injury, do what you can to apply first aid, which could include staunching the bleeding, applying pressure to the wound, or remaining completely still, depending on the situation. Call or ask a bystander to call for an ambulance if you need emergency medical treatment.
Get to Safety
If you feel relatively uninjured and your vehicle is in harm’s way, move it to a safe area like an emergency lane, shoulder, or parking lot. Ensure the car is out of traffic so that it cannot be hit by another vehicle. Do not stay in your car if there is any chance that it could explode or catch fire. Analyze the situation: prioritize moving to safety, but if the vehicle is posing no immediate hazard, take photos or videos of the crash scene before moving it to have an accurate record of recent events. If you’re injured and the car is not in immediate danger, stay put and ask bystanders for help. If you believe that you might have a head or spinal injury, remain still and wait for first responders to arrive so that they can move you away from your vehicle safely.
Check on Others
When you are in a car wreck, Texas law requires you to assist anyone who has been injured in the collision and call for medical assistance if you are reasonably capable of doing so. Check to ensure the passengers in your car and the other motorists are unharmed. If anyone has an obvious and serious injury, call for emergency services. In some cases, you may need to take immediate action to provide first aid and mitigate harm. Do everything you can to prevent a bad situation from worsening as you wait for emergency responders to arrive.
Once you are safe and aware of your current status, call 911 and report the collision. Ask a bystander to call 911 if your phone is missing or damaged. The responding emergency operators will send the police and emergency medical services to the scene of the crash.
Under Texas law, you must report any car collision that involves injury, death, or possible driver intoxication to the police. The officer who arrives at the scene will ask you about the crash, so do your best to respond to any questions with accurate, complete information. The police will investigate the accident to identify factors that contributed to the wreck. They will also determine who was at fault, issue citations, and file a Texas Crash Report that provides a detailed account of the accident. This official documentation can be used as evidence when you seek compensation for damage and injuries. Always ensure that there is an official report, even after a minor collision. If you choose to file an insurance claim, this report will be essential to your case.
It’s natural to be upset or on edge after a car collision, but do your best to control your emotions and remain calm. Take a deep breath and remember that adrenaline is running through your body, and you may be in shock. An outburst can make a bad situation worse, and your responses may be misinterpreted by onlookers. Do everything you can to stabilize the situation.
Good evidence protects your interests and increases your chance of winning a settlement case, so it’s important to gather evidence at the scene of the crash while you wait for the police to arrive. If it’s safe to do so, make a video recording and take multiple photos of the damaged vehicles and their surroundings before they are moved. Capture what happened from a variety of angles and show any hazards, like debris in the road or obstructed signage, that may have contributed to the wreck. Images of broken glass and tire tread marks can also be used as evidence. You can also make a voice memo about or write down what happened while the details of the event are fresh in your mind. Make note of any traffic cameras that may have recorded the collision. Ask for help if you are unable to gather information yourself.
Texas law requires motorists who are involved in a collision to exchange insurance coverage information at the scene of the accident, so take a picture of the other driver’s insurance card, driver’s license, and vehicle registration information. Document the other driver’s license plate number, the make and model of the car, and any other relevant details. Do not rely on the police to collect this information. Trying to locate the missing data later is a mistake that can delay or derail the insurance claim process.
As you exchange information, avoid discussing the details of the accident with anyone on the scene, but do try to gather information from bystanders who witnessed the collision. Ask if you can record video as they describe what they saw, and take note of their names and contact information.
Do Not Admit Fault
When you are in a car wreck, do not apologize, admit fault, express guilt about, or accept blame for the accident. Keep your speech neutral, even if you believe you are liable for the crash. Don’t accuse the other driver of causing the wreck or speculate aloud about how the wreck happened. Even if your intentions are good, your words could negatively influence the outcome of your case.
Do Not Downplay Your Injuries
The injuries you suffer in a car collision can be more serious than they appear. After a crash, you may experience shock that masks your pain. It may take a few days for you to become fully aware of your injuries, so don’t minimize what you experienced. Insurance companies may use your statements in an attempt to reduce your claim. Instead, take photos and make note of any visible injuries and aftereffects you experience. Visit the hospital and make sure to speak to the police, your insurance agent, and your lawyer about the kinds of evidence you need to record and collect. Stick to facts, gather the information necessary, and let others make the required determinations.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately
After a car crash, make sure to seek prompt medical treatment. Cooperate with first responders and paramedics at the scene, even if your injuries seem minor or nonexistent. If you experience dizziness or pain after a collision, ask to be taken to the hospital. Even if you feel fine, you need to receive medical attention from an emergency room, hospital, or clinic to ensure that you don’t have hidden or internal injuries. Doctors can provide the medical documentation you need if you want to file an insurance claim. These medical records help establish the cause of your injuries and serve as evidence, so make sure you have copies or access to these files.
Contact Your Insurance Company
When you are involved in a car wreck, you need to notify your insurance company as soon as possible and let them know if you have suffered any injuries. Give the insurance company the relevant information you collected from the other driver. Your agent will tell you what you need to do to start the claims process and give you any other necessary instructions. If your policy includes collision benefits, then you can choose to have your car inspected and repaired when you report the claim or wait until the other driver’s insurance company admits fault.
Be forthright with your insurer and answer their questions honestly. Don’t try to embellish, downplay, speculate, or mislead the insurer about what happened; misrepresentation could weaken your claim.
Do not discuss the collision with the other driver’s insurance company without legal representation. Authorize your attorney to speak on your behalf. Making an unguarded statement could hurt your chances of receiving compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance. The agent could attempt to use your words to re-apportion fault. Don’t disadvantage yourself by attempting to deal with another driver’s insurance company without legal aid.
Purchase the Crash Report
As you are preparing to make your case, remember to get a copy of the crash report from the police department. The insurance company will need this report to process your insurance claim. Crash reports are usually available for pickup seven to ten days after the accident occurs. You can usually purchase the report via the Texas Department of Transportation’s online portal or by searching Lexis Nexis or Crash Dot.
Keep a Journal of Events
After a car wreck, start keeping a written or recorded journal or log of your injuries, feelings, and healing process. As days go by, details of the collision will become less clear, and you may become forgetful as your brain attempts to overcome trauma. Your journal can help corroborate evidence while you are seeking compensation.
Seek Follow-Up Medical Treatment
In the days and weeks after a car crash, you will need to seek follow-up treatment from a physician or a physical therapist. It can take days to realize the full extent of your injuries, and you may face complications like swelling, infection, nerve damage, internal bleeding, and concussions that might not be immediately dangerous or detectable.
Keep Copies of Your Recceipts
The more factual information you have to back up your claim, the better. Keep a copy of all medical bills and records, as well as your receipts for car repairs or estimates. There is no such thing as too much information, and the documents will help your lawyer negotiate your case.
Get a Lawyer After The Car Wreck
The actions you take after a car crash can significantly affect your future and the outcome of any claims you make. Seeking legal counsel is critical to protecting your rights and interests and ensuring that you receive any compensation you are entitled to. If another driver caused your car accident, you should seek compensation from their insurance company to pay for your medical bills, car repairs, lost income, and other damages. An attorney will review your case, assess your potential liability, and help you understand your legal options.
The Legal Team at Haney Paschal & Romoser Will Put Your Claim First
Car accidents are unfortunate incidents that can disrupt your life, but the right attorneys can help get you the compensation you need to get your life back on track. The accomplished lawyers at Haney Paschal & Romoser, P.C., have years of experience representing citizens of Texas who have personal injury claims. We will treat your case with discretion and care as we work toward getting you the best possible settlement. To get started on your claim, call our office today to set up a free consultation and start focusing on your future.