The first few moments after a car collision can be scary, confusing, even traumatic.
You may be unsure what happened, in pain, worried about your passengers and the other driver, or fearful about the legal and financial consequences of your car crash.
Every Texan should take time to learn what to do — and what not to do — in those critical moments after an accident.
If you know what Texas state law requires, and what your rights and responsibilities are following a wreck, you’ll be better equipped to handle this stressful situation the right way and more likely to protect your best interests.
Keep in mind that even if you do everything right, navigating the aftermath of a car accident can be costly and stressful. A good Texas auto accident and injury attorney can help you deal with legal hassles and secure any compensation owed to you.
What to do after an auto accident in Texas
Take safety seriously. Your first priority should be the safety and welfare of everyone involved. If your vehicle is driveable, carefully move it out of traffic. Evaluate yourself and any passengers in your car. If anyone is injured or in pain, call 911 and request an ambulance right away. If you can do so safely, check on the passengers of all other involved vehicles. If anyone appears to be hurt, you must call 911 and render aid while you wait if you are able to do so.
Stay calm. The 911 dispatcher will want to know where you are located, how many people and vehicles are involved, what happened, and what kind of help you need. They may give you instructions. Follow these carefully and stay on the line until they tell you to hang up.
Find your documentation while you are waiting for help. You will need to provide the other driver and any responding police officers with your driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration, so it is a good idea to know where these important legal documents are located, and to make sure they are current.
Gather information. If possible, get the other driver’s name, contact information, insurance policy numbers and vehicle make, model and registration numbers. If you are injured or otherwise unable to gather this information, don’t worry. Your accident attorney can help gather information on your behalf later, if necessary.
Take pictures of the scene and all involved vehicles. If you are able to do so safely, talk to witnesses about what happened and get their contact information. Take notes. In general, more information about an accident is better.
Seek medical attention. Again, the more documentation you have, the better. So it is always a good idea to get a medical evaluation following a car crash. Even if you feel fine after, you may have injuries that are not immediately obvious, so have a doctor look you over. Be sure to keep all records from your medical care — your attorney may need to see them later.
Report the accident to your insurance company. Even if you were not at fault, you will need to let your insurance provider know about the crash as soon as possible. Depending on the level of coverage you have, you may be eligible for compensation for medical care and damages.
Hire an attorney. Police don’t always get the investigation right, and insurance companies tend to offer the lowest possible payouts. A knowledgeable injury and accident attorney will work hard to protect your interests and get you any and all compensation due to you.
What NOT to do after an auto accident in Texas
Don’t leave! Even if you think you are at fault or don’t have a driver’s license or insurance, it’s always better to stay put. Texas law requires anyone involved in an accident that causes property damage or injury to stay at the scene. Fleeing the scene of even a non-serious accident is a felony, punishable by up to one year in jail. Leaving a more serious accident is punishable by two to ten years in prison.
Don’t move or change anything about the accident scene unless you must do so for safety reasons. Police, insurance investigators and expert witnesses may need to review the evidence from the wreck later on. It is very important that you do not alter the scene, even if you think the evidence is not in your favor. Tampering with evidence is a serious offense in Texas.
Don’t discuss whose fault the accident is. Instead, talk with the other parties as calmly and respectfully as possible. Understand that they may also be very frightened, upset, or in pain. A skilled accident and injury attorney can help make sure you are treated fairly once the dust settles.
Call The Stewart Law Firm today
A call to an experienced Austin auto accident lawyer should be one of the first things you do if you or a loved one have been in a car accident or truck accident that has caused serious injuries or a fatality.
Our auto accident attorneys at The Stewart Law Firm have successfully represented individuals and families harmed in car accidents for over 25 years. Contact us today and let us handle your case and all the details that go along with it, so that you can focus on recovering from what happened.