Car crashes can be serious business, no matter what state you live in. As a result, there are laws on the books in every jurisdiction to handle what happens in the wake of an accident. Many of these laws are concerned with procedure, such as when you should report a car accident, whose responsibility it is to make a report and to whom, and how long you have to do so.
As a state, Texas is no different. While nobody wants to ever be involved in a car crash, you should know exactly what will be expected of you in the event you ever are. If you want to know all the rules for filling out crash reports in Texas, rely on this short guide.
Immediate Post-Accident Needs
The aftermath of a car crash can be incredibly chaotic and disorienting for everyone involved. There are a few ways to take some of the uncertainty out of what can otherwise be a very harrowing and even traumatic time. While there are no specific laws or requirements that you’re bound to follow directly after you’ve been involved in an accident, the following actions are in your best interest — and the interest of everyone else involved.
First, always seek medical attention for anyone injured, including yourself. Tending to any physical injuries take precedence over any damage done to any vehicles. This could mean anything from calling for emergency services to administering first aid.
Second, try your best to remain calm and not let any negative emotions boil over. If you’re feeling angry or upset, don’t vent those feelings at any other drivers involved. Not only is this counter-productive but it could make things worse. Also, never discuss blame, as doing so could also hurt your chances of claiming compensation for any injuries or damages down the road.
Third, begin documenting everything that you can. Use your phone’s camera to take pictures of damage done to vehicles, the roadway and any road conditions that may have contributed. Get the names and addresses of everyone involved and exchange insurance information.
Finally, if the police are involved, answer as many questions as you can to the best of your ability. This will make it easier for the officer to fill out and file his or her police report, a document that will satisfy any accident reporting requirements you might otherwise have.
When the Police Are Involved
If you’re wondering how long you have to report an accident to the police, it should ideally be immediately after the accident. If the police show up on the scene, this will happen as a matter of course However, there are a number of cases where the police may not even need to file a report or even show up to the accident site in the first place. In fact, there’s no legal requirement for officers to report a car crash that doesn’t result in less than $1000 of damages or the injuries or death of anyone involved. Officers must fill out this report within 10 days of the accident if they were called to the scene.
If the police fill out an accident report, congratulations: you’re not responsible for reporting your car accident to the authorities, as the police report is adequate proof. However, if for whatever reason your crash is not investigated by police and it resulted in either $1000 worth of damage, injuries to those involved, or both, the responsibility of reporting the accident now falls firmly on your shoulders. This responsibility remains yours whether you were at fault or not.
How to Report a Car Accident Yourself
If your car crash meets the reporting threshold of either resulting in injuries or $1000 in damages, you’re on the hook — you’ll have to report a car accident to the Texas Department of Transportation (DOT). Just like the police, you’ll have a total of 10 days to report the accident to the DOT. If you don’t abide by this 10-day time limit, you can be penalized by the DOT — and that can mean having your driver’s license suspended
In submitting your car crash report to the DOT, you will need to fill out a specific official form. It’s known as a CR-2, and can be found here. This car crash report will need to have the following information:
- When and where the accident occurred.
- The name, address, and date of birth of the drivers of all vehicles that were involved
- The driver license information of the drivers of all vehicles that were involved. This includes the issuing state and the license number.
- The license plate number and issuing state of all vehicles that were involved.
- Insurance information for all policyholders. Note that this may be different from vehicle driver information, as cars aren’t always driven by the policyholder at all times.
- The names and addresses of the registered owners of all vehicles involved. Like insurance policyholders, vehicle ownership can also differ.
- A summary of the accident itself, recounted to the best of your ability.
- Additional relevant information, such as road conditions at the time, the weather, or anything else that may have had a role in causing the accident.
When and How to Report a Car Accident: a Recap
Texas state law requires any accident that results in injury, death, or $1000 in damages or more to be reported either to the police or, if the police do not report the accident directly, to the state Department of Transportation. All accidents that meet this threshold must be reported within 10 days of the crash. Failure to do so can result in your license being suspended.
If you’re filling out a crash report for the Texas DOT yourself, it must contain specific information. This includes the contact details of all drivers, insurance policyholders, and registered vehicle owners, license plate numbers for all vehicles involved, and a summary of the accident.
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