Even the safest drivers can find themselves involved in a car accident. After a crash, you may feel rattled or overwhelmed by the situation and wonder what steps to take or if you should call the police. Keep reading to learn what you should do following a car accident in Texas to ensure you behave legally and protect your ability to file a personal injury claim if necessary.
Obey Texas Transportation Code: Call the Police
Whether you need to call the police following an accident varies depending on the state. Texas law mandates that vehicle operators file a report after a car collision that causes injuries, deaths, or property damage exceeding $1,000. If vehicle operators do not call the police in one of these situations, they can risk being fined or having their driver’s license suspended for breaking the law.
When you call the police, they will file the police report on your behalf. However, if you do not request police to the scene of the accident, per Texas law, you will need to contact the Texas Department of Transportation and file an accident report within ten days of the accident. The only exception to this deadline is if you are physically incapable of doing so because of injuries from the car collision.
What About a Minor Car Accident?
While the law may not require you to seek police involvement for a minor car accident, what constitutes a minor car accident can sometimes be challenging to determine. Often injuries are not immediately noticeable at the scene of the accident, and the severity becomes apparent later.
For example, accident victims may not realize they have injuries until they seek medical care days or even weeks after the car crash. Adrenaline is often high following a collision, which can mask pain signals, and drivers and passengers may not notice something is wrong until they are in a calmer environment. Calling the police serves as a safety net for all parties, ensuring the law is not broken and that an unbiased record of the accident is established.
Assessing Property Damage
At the accident scene, you can’t always tell the amount of property damage done to the vehicles involved in a car accident. A seemingly minor accident can cause vehicle damage that is surprisingly expensive to repair. Even a fender bender can cause damage exceeding $1000.
Choosing to avoid getting the police involved can hurt your ability to file an effective insurance claim or take legal action against the other driver in the future. An official accident report completed by local police is vital evidence that can be used to prove the damages you suffered to the other driver’s insurance company. In addition, in certain circumstances, having an official police report can offer you protection if the other driver tries to dishonestly claim the accident caused them injury or damaged their vehicle.
Protect Yourself Following an Accident
Following an accident, you’ll want to seek medical care if you suffered an injury and exchange contact details with any other drivers involved in the car accident. You’ll also want to get their insurance information and license plate number.
While you’re at the accident scene, take photos of the exact location of the accident and any damage, even if it’s minor. Collecting this data is essential to your protection and will benefit you if insurance adjusters investigate the collision. Still, one of the best ways to ensure your own protection is to call the police and have a report created.
Will Having a Police Report Help Me?
Whether the law requires the police to be called for your accident or not, having a police officer respond to the scene and file a police report is wise. The other driver may try to dissuade you from calling the police after a car collision and offer to exchange information instead, but this is ill-advised.
Erring on the side of caution can help you avoid frustrating problems in the future. While you may not want to get your local police department involved if you believe the accident is minor, having a police report verifying what occurred can benefit you in numerous ways, such as:
Establishing Fault For the Car Accident
Even if the other driver admits fault following the accident, their admission will only help you if documented. While the other driver may seem agreeable and willingly exchange information, you cannot guarantee they will continue to behave ethically, especially if either party decides to seek compensation for damages. When you call the police out to the scene, you have a written record of the driver admitting fault or the police officer stating their opinion of who is at fault for the collision.
Filing a Claim With the Insurance Company
A police report is a valuable asset for insurance purposes. Not only does it detail things such as witness and driver statements, but it can also help prevent unscrupulous people from trying to claim their vehicle received more damage than it did. Since a police report is unbiased, it holds more weight with insurance providers and can be crucial to getting fair compensation for your damages.
Pursuing a Lawsuit Against the Other Driver
Although you may not plan on filing a lawsuit, you may find yourself with no other choice. If you can’t reach a fair settlement, your next option will be to seek compensation by filing a lawsuit with the guidance of a car accident lawyer. Again, having the police involved in assessing the scene and creating a report will help you in court, as it serves as evidence strengthening your case.
Protect You From Legal Action
Even if you don’t believe the accident involved an injury or property damage over $1000, you can’t prove it if you don’t have a report backing up your claim. Calling the police will make it challenging for the other party to hold you liable for an injury or damage you didn’t cause. When the police arrive, they will investigate the scene and take detailed notes that can protect you from having a personal injury lawsuit brought against you unfairly.
Contact Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, Today
Nobody wants to be in a car accident. However, if you make wise choices following the collision, you can help protect yourself from legal repercussions and set yourself up to successfully seek compensation by calling the police to assess the scene. If you were in a car accident, you don’t have to handle the aftermath alone. Contact Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, at 936-251-5246 and get the support you need during this difficult time.