No one ever expects to be involved in an auto accident. But if you are, it’s good to have a plan of action already in place. Research shows that those that get the best results in the event of an unexpected emergency are generally those who were best prepared. Every time I get on an airplane, I actually read the safety information card for that particular plane, and I even locate the closest emergency exit and then count the number of rows between me and that exit in case I have to get there in the dark. Neurotic? Maybe. Prepared? Absolutely.
The Four Steps to Take Immediately Following an Auto Accident
First, after the auto accident, make sure everyone in your vehicle is okay, including yourself. Then, if it is safe to exit your vehicle, get out and check on the other driver. If it is not safe to exit your vehicle or the vehicles have come to rest in a precarious position, call 911 immediately and get assistance. If either party needs medical attention, call 911 right away. If the vehicles are blocking an intersection or are in an unsafe location, call for police assistance in moving the vehicles to a safe location.
Once all the parties’ safety has been assured, take photos or a short video of the vehicles if you believe you can do so without endangering yourself or others. In my younger days, I carried an instant camera in the glove box of my car to serve this purpose. Nowadays, most folks have a phone with a camera at the ready. Taking photos of the damage to each vehicle and the auto accident scene can be especially important if you feel the other driver is at fault. If you’re able to record a statement by the other driver admitting liability, that statement could be helpful in the event of a lawsuit or in the event the other driver suddenly changes his or her mind about how the auto accident occurred. In Texas, it is legal for one party to record conversation even if the other party does not know the conversation is being recorded. All that is required is that one of the parties in the conversation is aware of the recording.
Three, if your vehicle is not drivable from the accident scene, contact a family member or friend to come and get you and contact a towing service. It can be helpful to have the name and address of the local towing service on hand or, if you are a member of an auto club or have a towing rider on your auto insurance policy, to have those numbers ready and available.
Four, Exchange insurance information with the other party. If the other party balks at showing their insurance information it could be because they don’t have liability insurance, which is, of course, required by statute in Texas. Even so, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles estimates that one out of every four Texas drivers is uninsured. If you believe the other driver is uninsured, be sure to contact the police and ask them to come to the scene and tell them that you have been involved in an auto accident and the other driver will not provide you with their insurance information and that you suspect that they may be uninsured.
Be aware that even if you feel uninjured immediately after the accident, sometimes head injuries or other injuries take a few hours or even a day or so to express themselves. If you find that later in the day or the following day you have any unexpected symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, nausea, aching neck or back, heart palpitations or trouble breathing, get checked out by a doctor immediately. Sometimes your insurance carrier or the other driver’s insurance carrier will ask you to give a recorded statement immediately after the auto accident. Avoid scheduling that recorded statement until four or five days have passed to make sure that you do not have any complications from the accident that you were not aware of immediately. Oftentimes insurance carriers will ask you during such a recorded statement whether you were injured and if you get the statement immediately after the accident, you may not yet know how or whether the accident has affected you. Give yourself a few days and then schedule the recorded statement.
If you do have injuries that require medical treatment, keep track of the bills and medical records. Any insurance carrier will want to see receipts for any medical treatment you receive and will likely wish to examine the medical records to determine what diagnosis the doctor gave you and what tests were run, etc. If you do incur medical expenses, contact an attorney before negotiating with the insurance carrier. An experienced personal injury trial attorney can give you an idea of the value of your claim and who a jury is likely to find at fault in connection with the accident. (Oftentimes the fault is shared among the parties and it is simply a question of who was more at fault). The other driver does not have to be 100% at fault in order for you to receive compensation in connection with the accident. Rather, the other driver must only be more at fault for the accident than you are.
What to Do After an Auto Accident
If you or someone you know has been involved in an auto accident, and you are unsure of the value of your claim, get legal help to pursue your claims and make a full recovery. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney for your free consultation. Click here to request your free case review or call 817-442-2410. We take personal injury cases on a contingent fee basis; there is no fee ever unless and until we make a recovery for you. We serve clients in Southlake, Grapevine, Colleyville, Dallas, Fort Worth, Keller, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, North Richland Hills, Roanoke, Trophy Club, and throughout the DFW Metroplex area.