After a car accident, you will need to take immediate steps towards attending to your injuries, documenting the extent of the property damage, reporting the incident to the police, and laying the groundwork for an insurance claim. Our auto accident lawyers in Houston, TX provide legal guidance and representation to people who have been injured in car crashes. Our goal is to get you enough money to cover all of your damages.
Ask a Lawyer: 8 Steps to Take After an Accident in Texas
1. Make Sure Everyone Is in a Safe Location
Attending to the injuries and safety of everyone involved in the crash is your first responsibility. Some serious accidents leave injured people in the middle of the road, where they are vulnerable to oncoming traffic. Texas law requires you to provide assistance to anyone who is hurt if you are physically able, which includes calling for help and relocating people off the road if necessary.
It is important to note that moving an injured person can worsen their condition, so only move individuals that are in a dangerous place. If someone has an obvious neck or back injury, for example, do not move them unless it is necessary to save their life (such as to get them out of the reach of a fire). Otherwise, simply call 911 and wait for the medical team to arrive.
2. Report the Accident to the Police
By law, you must report accidents involving death, serious injury, or property damage exceeding $1,000. When the police arrive, they will create an accident report that can be used as evidence when you submit an insurance claim to recover your damages.
The officers might ask you questions about how the accident happened. You should keep your answers factual and avoid making statements such as “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t even see the other car coming.” Such statements can be misconstrued as an admission of fault or partial fault. Before you leave the scene of the crash, take down the officers’ names and ask for the number of the report.
3. Create Evidence With Your Smartphone
Using your smartphone camera, you can create evidence for your case by photographing and videoing the vehicles from several different angles. The rules of evidence in Texas personal injury cases allow images from a smartphone to be presented in addition to any available surveillance footage.
If other individuals at the accident use their phones to capture evidence, you may be able to obtain their footage for your purposes. Asking other people to help you is especially important if you did not have your phone on you when the accident occurred or if it was lost or destroyed.
4. Find Witnesses
Depending on the time and location of the accident, you may or may not be able to identify potential witnesses who could testify on your behalf. If you know that anyone saw the crash take place, make sure to ask them for their contact information. If they agree to be interviewed, you can ask them how the accident happened and record their statements with your smartphone before you leave.
5. Ask the Other Driver for His or Her Information
When exchanging information with another driver, ask for his or her name, a contact number, a driver’s license number, and the name of his or her insurance provider. You should also note the model, make, and color of the other vehicle along with the plate number.
6. Visit the ER
Your medical treatments will likely be high on your list of damages that you would like to get compensated for in an insurance settlement. Some people make the mistake of avoiding the ER because they do not want to increase their expenses, especially if they do not feel injured. This decision can actually lead to higher medical costs if your injuries worsen as a result of not being promptly treated.
It can be much harder to win compensation for subsequent treatments if you do not visit the ER right after an accident occurs. Going to the ER shows that you are taking your health seriously and giving the doctors every opportunity to address your injuries. When you present your medical history as evidence in your compensation case, having a record of your initial visit can help you demonstrate a causal link between your damages to the accident.
7. Contact Your Insurance Company
If a negligent driver caused your accident, his or her insurance company should provide you with a settlement. However, some situations may require you to go through your own insurance. For example, if the other driver did not have adequate insurance, you may need to rely on your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Many insurance policies require that you report the accident within 24 hours in order to obtain a payout.
8. Contact a Lawyer
Statistically, individuals who enlist the help of a personal injury lawyer walk away with higher payouts than people who try to work with insurance companies on their own. A lawyer can save you time and increase the value of your claim by:
- Providing a source of legal advice
- Investigating the accident for evidence against the other driver
- Making sure you are aware of the statute of limitations and other deadlines
- Helping you prepare any statements you need to give the insurance company
- Handling all communications that you are not obligated to conduct directly
- Advocating for maximum compensation
- Reviewing all of your damages
- Negotiating with the insurance company to raise your settlement
- Taking your case to court if necessary
Since the steps you take immediately after an accident affect the amount of compensation you can expect to receive, it is best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. While we can provide assistance starting at any point in the process, we recommend reaching out within the first 24 hours.
How Much Compensation Can You Receive?
The size of your settlement depends on the extent of your losses and the evidence against the other driver. If you can demonstrate that the other driver caused the accident by driving negligently, he or she will be responsible for your medical expenses, lost wages, and noneconomic damages. In most cases, his or her insurance company will provide the settlement.
Texas puts no limit on compensatory damages. Insurance policies generally cover personal injuries up to $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident, along with $25,000 for property damage. If your losses exceed these figures, our lawyers will help you explore options for bridging the gap.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Our auto accident lawyers in Houston, TX are available to help you with every aspect of your case, from reporting the accident correctly to securing an appropriate settlement. We offer free consultations, during which we will walk you through the steps you need to take and discuss the potential outcomes of your claim. You can request a consultation on our website or by calling 713-481-2820.
Our Auto Accident Lawyers in Houston, TX Will Fight for the Settlement You Deserve
Negligent drivers in Texas are required to pay for the damages they cause. We have extensive experience investigating accidents, compiling evidence, and demonstrating fault. There is no reason for you to bear the financial burden of an accident that you did not cause. To speak with one of our lawyers, contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC.