A top-ranked Houston car accident attorney offers advice on what to do after you’re involved in a collision
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, 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 working to recover.
Hiring an experienced Houston personal injury lawyer is a good way to help alleviate much of the stress and anxiety.
A knowledgeable personal injury attorney–like those at Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC–can help advise you regarding many of the decisions and choices that must be made along the way. A personal injury lawyer who focuses on car accidents can guide you through bills and–just as importantly–can help to minimize and even alleviate any financial burden that may be associated with your injury.
However, there are some important steps to take when you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident. We will attempt to highlight those steps below.
12 Steps to Take After You’ve Been Involved in a Car or Motor Vehicle Accident in Houston Texas
Step 1 – Make sure that you are safe and there is no further threat to your safety. Assess for any injuries to yourself and to others in your vehicle. Turn on the hazard lights of your vehicle.
Step 2 – Taking into account the surroundings and the extent of any injuries, decide if it safer to stay in the vehicle or to 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 was in a crash and exited their vehicle – and were 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 to do so or unless you are 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 pictures of your vehicle inside and out and from multiple angles. Take pictures of the road conditions, traffic conditions, weather conditions. Note if there are 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 video of intersection information. Note whether any businesses close by have security cameras that could have capture the incident. Note whether the other vehicle or vehicles have any custom modifications such as lift kits or low-rider kits. A really good client once took a picture with brake calipers of the other vehicle’s brakes to show that they were essentially gone, which severely increased the braking distance. Note who the responding officers are and 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 if need be.
Step 7 – Be polite. But don’t be a social butterfly. Many individuals negatively impact their potential claims by the comments that they make immediately following an accident. Following a wreck is not the time to talk about hitting the gym the following morning, or even about 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 as a result of 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 in the neck or beck. Even some internal injuries like a bundle branch block in the heart, can go unnoticed for months or even years. It is very important to get checked out thoroughly.
Step 9 – Call your insurance company. Report the accident. Even if you are not at fault, it is a good idea to notify your own insurance company. Many drivers carry personal injury protection under their own policies and if injured may be able to make a claim for these funds under their own 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 your insurance company know as the insurance companies will generally keep log notes of conversations that may be 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. This may be receipts, cashed check copies, credit card statements, bank account statements, etc. The expenditures may be for transportation (uber, rental car, bus, etc), for hospital/doctors and treatment expenses including prescriptions, vehicle repair costs, and out-of-pocket expense. Also, if you missed any time from work as a result of 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 the lawyers at Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC. This should be one of the first steps, but it is important to not miss this step in order to help you fully minimize or alleviate any financial burdens to you and to ensure that you are compensated fully for your damages sustained as a result of the accident.
At Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, our firm focuses the entirety our time and expertise 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 help our clients to tip the balance of justice into their favor through our years of experience and our 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 at www.houinjurylawyers.com.