CRUCIAL NEXT STEPS AFTER AN ACCIDENT
Imagine that you’ve just been involved in an automobile accident and are not sure what steps to take first in order to exercise your full rights and protections under the law.
Texas law requires that all accidents that involve at least $1,000 in damage or involve an injury or death must be reported to the police. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $5,000. That’s why it’s so important that you report every accident right after it happens by calling 911 and getting the police on the scene to investigate.
After the police arrive and carry out their investigation, you should request a copy of the police report to help you pursue any claim for damages or injuries, certainly if the report cites that the other driver was at fault.
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident or suffered extensive property damage, and you live in the Houston, Texas area or in Southeast New Mexico, contact me, personal injury attorney Clay Fostel, at The Fostel Law Firm. I have dedicated my entire career and my law firm to helping accident victims fight for the compensation they deserve for their cases.
What to Do After an Accident
There some key actions to take in the time immediately following an accident, including:
Pull Over & Get to Safety
First and foremost, the most important consideration after an accident is the safety of you and your passengers. If possible, pull your car over to the side of the road and out of harm’s way. If anyone has been injured, take care of that immediately. When you call 911 to report the accident, you can also request assistance for anyone who has been injured and requires immediate help.
Contact The Police
If the other driver tries to talk you out of involving the police, don’t listen. It could just be a ploy to provide false information to you or even deny the whole accident later on. The police will arrive and complete a police report detailing the accident and all who are involved.
The police will also investigate the scene and file a report called the Peace Officer’s Crash Report, which should become available to you about two weeks after the accident. This can be an important document in establishing fault, which is another reason you should report every accident unless it’s just a minor scratch with no possibility of injury to anyone, in which case you should file a crash report on your own.
You’re also going to need to document everything on your own as much as you can. Use your cell phone to take pictures of the scene, including any damaged vehicles, road signs that may have been violated, the license plate of the other vehicle or vehicles, and any other relevant details.
If there were any witnesses, talk to them and get their contact information if they are willing to share it. Get the other driver’s license number and insurance information as well.
Seek Medical Evaluation
When the investigation at the scene is over, go seek medical evaluation. Even if you don’t feel injured, or only slightly injured, you should get examined, and so should any passengers involved. Sometimes injuries don’t show up until hours, days, or even weeks later. Once you do see a doctor, be sure to retain all medical documentation. This may become essential if there is any claim against the other driver.
Contact Your Insurance & An Attorney
Once you get home, call your insurance company and report the accident. Don’t wait for the crash report. Insurers can get suspicious if you wait too long to report an accident. Finally, retain a car accident attorney to deal with the claims process — whether it’s negotiating with the insurance adjusters or taking the matter to court.
Since Texas requires only that a driver be financially able to pay for damages and injuries, the other driver may not have insurance — in which case you would certainly want to reach out to an attorney.
Another pitfall is to let the insurance company talk you into a quick settlement, which invariably will be a low-ball offer. It will also close the books on any future claims should your injuries get worse or appear later on. It’s always best to let your attorney handle the negotiating.
There’s also the matter of Texas being a comparative fault, or proportionate liability, state. If the police investigate the accident and assign you with 20 percent fault, or if a court does finds you 20 percent at-fault for the accident, any compensation you are awarded from the other driver for your injuries will be reduced by that percentage. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 in compensation after an accident, but you were found to be 20 percent at fault, you will only be eligible to collect $80,000. If you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault, you will not be allowed to collect any compensation from the other driver. In fact, you are likely to be held accountable as the liable party.
Allow The Fostel Law Firm Help
I am used to dealing with insurance companies and their adjusters. If you try to go it alone against them, they’ve been known to use every trick in the book to lessen or deny your claim altogether. They can take seemingly innocent statements such as, “I’m well, thank you” and attempt to use it against you. It is always okay to avoid answering their questions and just refer them to me as your personal injury attorney.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident in the Houston or Southeast New Mexico area, don’t wait. Call me today to receive a free case consultation. I will do everything I can to protect your rights and help you pursue the compensation you need to recover from your injuries and get your life back. Call today to find out more about how I can help you pursue the justice you deserve.