Car accidents are a fact of America’s busier roads. No matter how careful of a driver you are, there are 5.2 million collisions nationwide yearly, meaning your chances of finding yourself in an accident is higher than you think.
Whether you’re injured or not, how you act can influence any future claim you make through the other driver’s insurer. In this guide, you’ll learn what steps to take in the immediate aftermath of a collision.
11 Important Steps for What to Do in a Car Accident in Texas
It’s never easy to know what to do after a car accident in Texas. Everyone runs the gamut of emotions, ranging from pain, anxiety, anger, and fear.
Knowing what to do can ensure you remain compliant with Texas car accident laws and avoid jeopardizing your claim. In addition, your actions in the aftermath of an accident involving damage to a vehicle in Texas will influence what happens next.
Here is your comprehensive guide to what to do after a car accident.
Step One – Stay Calm and Check if Everything is OK
Experiencing a road traffic accident is traumatic, and your natural fight or flight response may kick in.
However, under Transportation Code Chapter 550, you must legally stop at the accident scene. Therefore, leaving can put you at the mercy of Texas hit-and-run laws.
If someone is seriously injured or killed, you could be criminally charged with a felony. Once again, it cannot be underemphasized how vital it is to avoid leaving the scene of an accident in Texas.
Check to see if the other party is OK to ensure they do not have any severe injuries. Failing to call for immediate medical assistance in such a situation could be considered a hit-and-run offense under Texas law.
The potential penalties of a hit-and-run offense in the Lone Star State include fines, loss of your license, and even jail time.
Step Two – Inform the Police of What Happened
Contacting the police isn’t necessary for a minor accident resulting in nothing more than scratches or dents. In this case, exchanging insurance information is usually enough to resolve the issue.
However, you must inform the police if an accident results in property damage, significant injuries, or death. Strictly speaking, any damage surpassing $1,000 in value obligates you to report the accident to the police.
Failing to call the police with details of your accident could make it impossible for you to pursue an insurance claim. Furthermore, filing a police report after a car accident in Texas is vital evidence while taking legal action.
After arriving, the officer will secure the scene and engage with both drivers. The officer may choose to perform a breathalyzer test on both drivers.
As part of their duties, the attending officer will complete a report collecting the information of all involved parties and witnesses. They will also produce a breakdown of the road conditions, damage to each vehicle, and any contributing conditions (from their perspective).
Ensure you keep a list of each officer’s name and badge number to make it easier to obtain your accident report, or dispute any documented events, later.
Step Three – Call an Ambulance if Needed
If you, or the other driver, reports any pain or new sensations, request an ambulance to attend the scene. Symptoms could be as minor as a headache or lightheadedness. Head trauma can display minor symptoms that gradually worsen over the next few days.
Prompt medical treatment at the emergency room can prevent life-threatening issues, including concussions, fractures, and internal bleeding.
Going to the emergency room will also provide medical records, which can help you claim compensation later.
Step Four – If Possible, Move Your Vehicle to a Safe Location
You are permitted to move your vehicle to a safe location if possible. After all, leaving your car in the middle of the highway or around a blind corner could lead to further accidents.
Pulling into the emergency lane or a nearby parking lot is the best way to clear the road and prevent another collision.
Drive as you normally would, but only if it is safe. If you cannot, ensure everyone gets out of harm’s way by moving off the road.
If you have any uncertainties regarding whether moving your vehicle is safe or possible, leave it and allow the attending officer to handle it when they arrive.
Step Five – Don’t Engage in Arguments With the Other Driver
If you believe the other driver is at fault, it’s natural to want to give them a piece of your mind.
The problem with engaging with the other driver is that things can escalate out of control. Remember, in 2021, Texas became an open-carry state, requiring no license to openly carry a firearm in a holster.
Why is this relevant? According to the latest numbers, Texas is the number one state for fatal road rage shootings.
Stay calm and polite, even if you find it challenging. If the other driver is becoming aggressive, return to your vehicle and remain inside with locked doors until the police arrive.
Step Six – Take Photos or Videos to Collect Evidence
If safe to do so, collect as much evidence as you can. Both photos and videos offer irrefutable evidence. The latter has little room for interpretation in a courtroom later.
Use your smartphone to capture the position of the vehicles, alongside any damage like broken glass or deployed airbags. You should also take evidence of the road conditions, including tire tread marks.
Video from your smartphone can also protect you from road rage incidents, showing proof if the other driver is intoxicated, acting aggressively, or assaulting you.
Remember, the officer could take an hour or more to arrive at the scene, so this type of fresh evidence is critical to any future claim.
Step Seven – Write Down Important Details
The Transportation Code requires drivers to exchange certain information with each other if involved in an accident.
The information that must be exchanged includes:
- Phone numbers
- Email addresses
- Basic insurance information
Information from passengers and clear witnesses must also be shared. Don’t forget to record the license plate and license numbers.
Remember, Section 550.023 of Texas law makes providing vague, incorrect, or misleading information an offense.
Beyond your legal obligations, another helpful action is to record the accident's date, time, and location. You may also want to record your observations on whether you believe the other driver is intoxicated.
Step Eight – Visit a Doctor
If no ambulance was called at the time, it is still worth visiting a doctor. Many injuries don’t become visible until much later, especially regarding concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
Immediate medical attention may not be necessary, but if you notice other symptoms, such as aches and pains later, going to the doctor is an excellent precautionary measure.
But figuring out what to do after a car accident in Texas may not be straightforward if you lack health insurance. So, what should you do?
Many emergency rooms will automatically attach a “lien” to the final bill if your treatment results from a traffic accident. The lien allows you to receive treatment without immediate payment. Instead, they will claim the billed amount from your final settlement in the future.
Other emergency rooms may not offer this as standard. If an emergency room attempts to collect an immediate payment, let them know your treatment resulted from a collision and you are taking legal action.
It’s up to the emergency room whether they agree.
If you’re left paying the bill, offer to pay minimal amounts to avoid collections before covering the remaining amount after you receive your final legal settlement.
Step Nine – Find Your Texas Car Accident Report
Your car accident report is vital for filing a car accident in Texas against the other driver’s insurer.
Documentary evidence is critical to winning your case, and the most crucial piece of evidence is the accident report. If you need to prove that someone violated Texas fender bender law in your case, the police accident report will provide concrete evidence.
Moreover, your accident report also confirms that you’re filing legal action against the correct party.
You have many ways to find your accident report. However, using MyAccident.org to get free Texas accident reports is the easiest way.
Your report will include the same details as the official CR3 form, except certain personal information is used to identify involved parties.
Get your report now by entering your city or ZIP and entering some basic details about your accident. MyAccident.org will scan our database to pinpoint your accident and provide a comprehensive report.
Step Ten – Contact Your Insurance Company
One of the most common myths is that you don’t need to contact your insurance company if you are not at fault. Reporting your car accident to your insurer allows you to claim benefits and ensure you receive the proper care required.
You will speak to an adjuster or a claims handler during your call. Notify them if you were injured in the accident and the nature of the accident. If you have an automobile collision add-on, you can have your car inspected and repaired free of charge.
Never speak to the other driver’s insurance company without legal representation. Adjusters will always side with their clients because they don’t want to pay out a settlement. Never speak to these trained professionals directly or risk jeopardizing your claim.
Traditionally, attorneys never allow insurers to take statements directly from drivers. Instead, they speak for them.
Step Eleven – Consider Hiring a Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer is vital when pursuing a claim. They know the law, and you don’t.
Enlisting the services of a qualified attorney will enable you to extract maximum value from your claim and avoid leaving money on the table. Most car accident attorneys offer no-fee arrangements, meaning you pay nothing unless you win, and then the attorney’s bill comes from the final settlement.
Road traffic accident lawyers know all the tricks of the trade and are highly experienced in getting their clients the most money possible from their claims.
So, what does the legal process look like? Here’s a breakdown of the steps involved:
· Interview – Your attorney will interview you about the accident and assess any evidence you collected from the accident scene. The purpose of the interview is to determine whether you have a claim. · Evidence Gathering – Lawyers will then take the time to build their case by gathering evidence, including medical records and a copy of the police accident report. · Negotiation – If fault has been proven categorically, your lawyer will approach the other driver’s insurer to discuss a settlement. Back-and-forth negotiations will occur while both sides weigh up each other’s cases. · Trial – If there’s an issue apportioning fault or settling on a final figure, the case may go to a trial. The time these cases take to finish could be one to two years.
Most of the legal process happens behind the scenes, as your attorney handles everything on your behalf. Clear-cut cases can take anything from one to two months, whereas more complex cases consisting of life-changing industries could take over a year.
Every case is unique, so let your lawyer do the work on your behalf. Never attempt to fight your case alone.
Bottomline: Remember Your Rights and Responsibilities
Knowing what to do after a serious car accident protects you legally and ensures you are best positioned to pursue your claim for compensation via your legal team.
Ensure you stop, exchange details, call the police, gather evidence, and seek medical attention. Following these steps ensures you’re not left open to felony charges or losing your right to claim the maximum compensation.
Working for your insurer and outsourcing your case to an attorney will maximize your chances of getting the justice you deserve.
But pursuing your claim begins with evidence. Source your copy of your Texas accident report today.