Motor vehicle accidents can be emotional and often result in a sudden release of adrenaline. It is perfectly natural and human to feel stress and anxiety about the extent of your injuries, who is or could be at fault, and how the bills will be paid, such as hospital and doctor bills, car repair bills, and in many cases how to make up for earnings lost by your having to take time from work to recover.
Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer like the lawyers at Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC is an excellent way to help alleviate much of the stress and anxiety. A Houston personal injury attorney can help advise you regarding any of the decisions and choices that must be made. A personal injury lawyer can guide you through bills, and just as significantly, a Houston personal injury lawyer can help minimize and even alleviate any financial burden associated with your injury.
However, there are some crucial steps to take when involved in a motor vehicle accident. We will attempt to highlight those steps here:
Step 1 – Make sure that you are safe and there is no further threat to your safety. Assess for any injuries to yourself and others in your vehicle. Turn on the hazard lights of your vehicle.
Step 2 – Determine the surroundings and, taking into account the extent of any injuries, decide whether it is safer to stay in the vehicle or exit the vehicle. Sometimes, those first few moments of adrenaline are the only way a person can get out of a vehicle and into a prone position on the back to ready themselves for responders to assess them. Further, there have been many situations where a driver who was in a crash and exited their vehicle – was then struck and killed by other vehicles. Here is a recent story that shows how real it can be: click here
Step 3 – Unless you are being transported by ambulance or responders, do NOT leave the scene until it is appropriate or in imminent danger by remaining on-site. And if you do leave, it is always a good idea to proceed directly to Step 4 (do not pass Go! And do not collect $200!).
Step 4 – Call local law enforcement. Request that they prepare an accident report. Ensure that the other drivers involved in the incident have their information recorded.
Step 5 – DOCUMENT DOCUMENT DOCUMENT! And one more time for good measure – DOCUMENT! Document everything. Take pictures of the scene with your phone. Take photos of your vehicle inside and out and from multiple angles. Take photos of the road conditions, traffic conditions, and weather conditions. Note any contributing factors to the accident, such as a pothole. Take pictures of skid marks and note any injuries complained of. Use good judgment when using recording devices but if possible, take a video of intersection information. Note whether any businesses close by having security cameras that could have captured the incident. Note whether the other vehicles have any custom modifications, such as lift or low-rider kits. An excellent client once took a picture with brake calipers of the other vehicle’s brakes to show they were gone, which severely increased the braking distance. Note who the responding officers are and their badge numbers. Make sure you get an incident number from them.
Step 6 – Witnesses. Find out if there are any. Is there a crowd of people gathered outside the restaurant? Are there people waiting at a bus stop? Are there people gathered around? If there are witnesses, get their contact information and ask permission to contact them later.
Step 7 – Be polite. But don’t be a social butterfly. More individuals negatively impact their potential claims by making comments immediately following an accident than one would believe. Following a wreck is not the time to talk about hitting the gym the following morning or how you should have taken your car to the repair shop because of your non-functioning brake lights.
Step 8 – See a doctor. Tell them that you were in a motor vehicle accident. Tell them any and every symptom that you may be having due to the accident and any known injuries that you have sustained. Tell them if you hit your head or experienced any whiplash. There are many forms of trauma, and some of them only get noticed by the time they are critical, such as swelling of the brain. Other injuries may take more time to be uncovered, such as herniated discs or beck. Some internal injuries like a bundle branch block in the heart can go unnoticed for months or even years. It is imperative to get checked out thoroughly.
Step 9 – Call your insurance company. Report the accident. Even if you are not at fault, it is good to notify your own insurance company. Many drivers carry personal injury protection under their policies and, if injured, may claim these funds under their policies. However – your insurance agent is not the person to be a “Chatty Cathy” with either (no offense to the Cathies out there!). If you have visible and known injuries, it is okay to let them know, as the insurance companies will generally keep log notes of conversations necessary to obtain later.
Step 10 – Get a copy of the accident report. In many of the more urban areas in Texas, the local police department, county sheriff, or constable precinct may have a way to obtain the report online. Make an appointment to do a walk-in if your responding agency requires you to do so. But do this when you are well enough to do so. It is not a rush.
Step 11 – Keep all documentation for expenditures. These may be receipts, check copies, credit card statements, bank account statements, etc. The spending may be for transportation (Uber, rental car, bus, etc.), hospital/doctors, and treatment expenses, including prescriptions, vehicle repair costs, and out-of-pocket expenses. Also, if you missed any time from work due to the accident – ask your employer to write you a letter detailing the lost wages (PTO usage = lost wages) that you incurred.
Step 12 – Contact an experienced and qualified Houston personal injury attorney like Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC. This should be one of the first steps. Still, it is essential not to miss this step to help you fully minimize or alleviate any financial burdens and ensure that you are compensated fully for the damages sustained due to the accident.
At Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, our firm focuses its entirety on representing those who have suffered a personal injury and helping our clients through the entire recovery process – physical, emotional, and financial recovery – from their injuries. We allow our clients to tip the balance of justice into their favor through our years of experience and devotion to our clients. Our care and preparation are core principles and keys to our success. The lawyers at Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, can help you navigate this issue and answer any questions that you may have. If you would like to speak to someone about your particular situation or for a free and confidential consultation, call our office at (713) 366-HURT (4878) today or visit us online www.houinjurylawyers.com.