After an auto accident, often people are in a state of shock about what just happened. It can be disorienting. But even if you are able to take action on only a few of these suggestions you will be better off.
- Take some deep breaths and stay calm
- Keep yourself and others safe
- Turn on hazard lights
- Do not exit vehicle unless safe to do so
- Take photos of cars nearby
If you are able, take a few pictures of the license plates of vehicles who would have witnessed the accident before they drive off. Unfortunately most witnesses do not stop and license plate numbers can be used later to track down eye witnesses in needed.
- Call the police
Even though many people involved in an accident want to resolve the issue as soon as possible, it is important that you call the police. You may have suffered injuries you are unaware of. A police report documents the accident and will be available to you as evidence in the event you are in fact injured.
- When the police arrive, insist on a police investigation and crash report
Sometimes police officers don’t want to complete an accident report if there aren’t any immediately obvious injuries. They may tell you “we don’t do accident reports.” This isn’t true. Ask repeatedly that they do a crash report. If they refuse, get the officer’s name as well as the name of their supervisor.
- Do not move your vehicles unless safety requires that you do so
- Exchange information with other driver(s)
- Name, address and phone number
- Driver’s license number and date of birth
- Insurance company and policy number
- Make, model and license plate number of vehicles
- Photograph and document the accident
- Identify witnesses – Get name, address and phone numbers
- Use phone to take photographs of:
- All vehicles involved
- All people involved
- The overall scene of the collision (intersection, traffic lights, etc.) Take photos from different angles to accurately capture everything. And don’t forget to show skid marks, broken glass or debris on the ground.
- If you are injured, get medical treatment as soon as possible
Often, due the nature of common injuries in a car accident and the stress and adrenaline you experience after the crash, the fact that you have suffered an injury may not be immediately obvious. If you are injured or believe that you may have suffered an injury, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.
After you visit a doctor, it is important to comply with prescribed medical treatment or rehabilitation and to continue with any follow-up appointments. Your medical treatment will document the severity and extent of your injuries as well as ensure that you are seeking appropriate attention and care. After all, the most important thing is to ensure that your injuries are treated and that you get better. Nothing is more important than your health.
- Report the accident to your insurance company
Report the accident to your auto insurance company by phone, smartphone app or online. Failing to notify your insurer immediately after an accident could violate of the terms of your policy and make it impossible to file a claim at a later date.If you have collision coverage, you or your auto body shop will be reimbursed to pay for repairs. If the accident was your fault, the policy deductible will be deducted from your payment.
And you can typically expect your auto insurance rate to rise at the next renewal period, unless accident forgiveness is built into your policy.If you weren’t at fault, your rate generally won’t rise and you’ll be fully reimbursed from the other party’s insurer. But if the driver doesn’t have adequate insurance, you can still recoup costs of vehicle damage and personal injuries if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
- Do not give a recorded statement to any insurance company without first seeking legal advice
Insurance carriers will be seeking to limit or deny your claims immediately after an accident. Always consult with a personal injury attorney, preferably a Texas Board Certified personal injury attorney, before giving a recorded statement, even to your own insurance company.
Jason Franklin is founder of The Franklin Law Firm, a Dallas Personal Injury law firm that specializes in providing Real Help for Real Injuries to North Texas accident victims injured in a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accidents, or other personal injury cases. Because of his years of experience and record of success, Jason Franklin is frequently invited to speak to lawyer groups about Texas personal injury law. Franklin has been repeatedly recognized by Super Lawyers as being one of the best personal injury trial lawyers in the State of Texas.