What to Do after a Car Accident in Texas: 5 Key Steps to Take

What to Do After a Car Accident

Approximately 6.75 million car accidents happen each year in the United States. Even the most careful of drivers can end up in an accident — not through any fault of their own but by the negligent behavior of another.

Texas is especially prone to car accidents, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reporting that, in 2018, the Lone Star State had more traffic fatalities than any other, counting 3,407 fatal crashes and 3,776 deaths.

When not fatal, a car accident can still be a traumatic experience, leaving significant injuries that make you unable to work for weeks or months, not to mention a mountain of medical bills for your treatment.

You might also wonder how to proceed after your accident. The actions you take after being in a car accident will play a vital role in whether you’ll be able to claim compensation — and how much you might receive.

We look at the five vital steps you should take after a car accident to ensure you get treated for your injuries and maximize your chance of a successful settlement.

What to Do after a Car Accident in Texas: 5 Vital Steps

  1. Call the Police

Texas law requires you to file a police report after a car accident.

  1. Collect Information and Gather Evidence at the Car Accident Scene

Evidence is the cornerstone of a successful claim.

  1. Go to the Hospital to Check for Car Accident Injuries

Understand the full extent of your injuries.

  1. Call Your Insurance Company and the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company

Know what to say — and what not to.

  1. Retain an Expert Car Accident Injury Lawyer

A car accident lawyer can help you get the justice and compensation you deserve.

1. Call the Police

Texas law requires you to file a police report after a car accident.

Under the Texas Transportation Code, Section 550.026, if a driver of any vehicle is in an accident that results in injury, death, or vehicle damage that makes it undrivable from the scene, they must immediately report the accident to the local police department.

When contacting the police, tell the dispatcher your location, the injuries you sustained from the car accident, and any hazards around the accident scene.

When the police arrive, you may speak with the investigating officer to give your perspective about the accident’s cause and events. When asked, you must provide the officer with your full name, address, proof of registration, and insurance.

At the accident scene, police officers:

  • Coordinate care and transportation of the injured party to receive immediate medical care
  • Make arrangements to have disabled cars towed
  • Verify the driver’s insurance information
  • Issue traffic citations.

Officers also collect evidence at the accident scene and determine the cause of the accident. 

You will need a copy of the crash report, which you can purchase online from the Texas Department of Transportation. This document is vital when seeking compensation from the negligent driver. If you hire a Texas car accident injury lawyer, they can get it for you. 

2. Collect Information and Gather Evidence at the Car Accident Scene

Evidence is the cornerstone of a successful claim.

The next thing you must do after a car accident in Texas is to start collecting evidence and information from other drivers and any witnesses to the crash. Property damage and personal injuries are usually the responsibility of the at-fault party, which means they can be held liable for your accident.

Texas requires drivers to share:

  • Their names and addresses
  • Their driver’s license information
  • The registration number of each car
  • The name and contact details of each driver’s insurance company.

But what information and evidence should you collect if a negligent or reckless driver caused your car accident?

Helpful information for you to gather includes:

  • Identifying information of the vehicle(s) in the accident, including model, make, year, license plate number, and vehicle identification number.
  • Passengers’ information, including contact details and behavior.
  • Photographs and videos of the crash scene, if you can safely take them. This is compelling evidence for your car accident injury lawyer that accurately captures what occurred at the accident scene, including weather and road conditions. This evidence makes it difficult for the at-fault party to deny liability in the future.
  • Witness statements may help you identify the at-fault driver or issue that caused your accident (for example, if your brakes failed due to an auto defect) and provide other useful information for your future insurance claim. Get the names and contact information of witnesses if they will offer it. Witnesses must sign and date each page of any written statement.

3. Go to the Hospital to Check for Car Accident Injuries

Understand the full extent of your injuries.

People usually experience shock after getting into a car accident, so you might not think about seeking medical attention immediately.

Unlike with obvious injuries, such as broken bones and bleeding, some health conditions resulting from a car accident might not show immediate symptoms. But a lack of immediate physical symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have any injuries. Your body produces endorphins and adrenaline in response to pain and stress, which temporarily mask the pain.

It’s vital you seek medical attention for potential unseen injuries immediately after a car accident to get a proper diagnosis and a basis for a future insurance claim. You should maintain all records and receipts for medical expenses, as you can recover these costs when seeking compensation from the liable party.

If your car accident was caused by the negligent behavior of another driver, Texas law requires that they assist you, which includes making arrangements for you to receive medical attention as soon as possible. Doctors at the hospital will diagnose you, check for injuries, treat you, and record the diagnosis. Getting medical attention right away helps support your claim that your injuries resulted from a car accident and not from either a pre-existing condition or an event that happened later.

When a doctor prescribes a course of treatment for your injuries, follow through with the treatment plan until your doctor releases you from it. This prevents insurance companies from alleging that you refused to follow your treatment plan and that exacerbated the injuries or slowed down the healing process, which can reduce the settlement you receive.

Finally, remember to ask your doctor for a copy of your medical records. Review them carefully and make sure that the car accident description and your symptoms are accurate. If you notice any errors, ask your doctor to correct them. Medical records can also help support your claim when negotiating with the negligent party and their insurance company to get compensation for your injuries. Your car accident lawyer can help you obtain, confirm, and correct all of this information.

4. Call Your Insurance Company and the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Company

Know what to say — and what not to.

Texas is a fault car insurance state, which means that an injured party in a car accident can seek compensation from the at-fault party and their insurance company. Many parties can be liable for your accident, including another driver, the manufacturer of a defective car part, or the construction company responsible for adequately maintaining the road.

The compensation you may be entitled to includes the costs of damaged property, medical bills, lost wages from being unable to work, and additional damages for the lasting impact of the injury on your life.

Most auto insurance policies contain clauses that require you to inform both your insurance company and the liable party’s insurance company when you’ve been in a car accident. Starting this process immediately after an accident allows the investigation to begin earlier and protects your interests. Failing to do this gives the other party the advantage of contacting your insurance company first and falsely claiming that you caused the accident.

When you get in touch with the other party’s insurance company, they’ll likely refer you to a claims adjuster, who is responsible for determining how much they should offer you based on your injuries.

The claims adjuster will want to know your side of the story. You may still be shaken up and vulnerable, and the other party’s insurance company will try to take advantage. They may try to get you to admit that the accident was your fault so that they can offer you a settlement below what you’re entitled to — or try to avoid offering you a settlement at all.

You can choose to answer an adjuster’s questions, but resist the temptation to apologize or claim any responsibility for causing the accident, as they may argue this is an admission of guilt.

However, you are not obligated to speak to an adjuster — no matter how much they pressure you or claim otherwise. If you decide to hire a car accident lawyer, they can handle all communication with insurance companies on your behalf.

Remember, symptoms resulting from minor injuries might not appear immediately after a car accident, so contact your insurance company even if you don’t have any injuries.

Assessing your damages and calculating your potential compensation is a complicated and daunting task. An experienced car accident attorney can help you evaluate your expenses, demonstrate liability by collecting evidence, and get you the compensation you deserve.

Want to find out how much compensation you could be entitled to? Try out our quick and easy personal injury calculator!

5. Retain an Expert Car Accident Injury Lawyer

A car accident lawyer can help you get the justice and compensation you deserve.

The final step when considering what to do after a car accident is retaining a personal injury lawyer in Texas. Having an experienced car accident lawyer representing you gives you a major advantage when navigating the complex legal territory that comes with filing a personal injury claim.

After your car accident, working with insurance companies and trying to get a fair settlement for your injuries can be an uphill battle. Insurance adjusters usually try to mitigate their losses and financial responsibilities by paying out as little as possible.

Adjusters also try to downplay the severity of your injuries by disputing the medical treatment costs and future aftercare costs. They might even try to convince you that you’re getting a fair deal and pressure you into accepting a settlement that’s less than what you’re entitled to.

More likely than not, the insurance adjusters or the at-fault party and their attorney will scrutinize the evidence to find any fault on your part for the car accident to justify a reduced insurance claim or settlement payout — or avoid paying at all.

Car accident lawyers know how to negotiate and defend their clients’ rights, and they understand the underhand tactics often employed by profit-driven insurance companies. They can also help guide you through the settlement or litigation process. If another driver caused the accident and your injuries, they might dread the financial repercussions and try to avoid a fair settlement. Instead, they might risk taking the case in front of a judge in the hope that it falls in their favor.

An experienced car accident lawyer can properly assess your claim and any offers to make sure you get a fair settlement based on your injuries. If negotiations aren’t successful, litigation is usually the next step.

Litigation involves complicated legal procedures and a lot of paperwork. Your car accident injury lawyer can gather necessary evidence, such as police reports, accident reports, eyewitness statements, photos, videos, and expert opinions, and present their best case to the jury.

Most importantly, many car accident lawyers in McAllen and San Antonio work for a contingency fee, which means you don’t have to pay any attorney’s fees unless they win your case. This means you won’t have to worry about incurring legal expenses before you get compensated for your injuries.

In Texas, the statute of limitations for car accidents is two years, so you must contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible to receive the compensation you deserve.

If you or someone you know doesn’t know how to proceed after a car accident, our personal injury lawyers in McAllen and San Antonio can help. Get in touch today by calling 855-LAW-NINJA or fill in our contact form to get a free case review and find out how much compensation you could be entitled to.

Patino Law Firm
1802 N 10th St
McAllen, TX 78501

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