No question about it. Accidents are scary. But if you know what to do ahead of time, the post-accident process will be much less traumatic.
And if you have reason to file a claim against another driver, taking the necessary steps will strengthen your case.
Here are ten steps to take if after a car accident.
1. Assess the situation
If possible, move your vehicle so it doesn’t obstruct other traffic. Assess the scene for fire or other potential dangers. If you and your passengers are relatively unharmed, make sure everybody is in a safe area.
2. Call 911
Call the police and make it official. Stay at the scene. You’ll probably need to file an accident report. If you leave the scene after an accident, your license could be suspended.
3. Exchange information
You and the other drivers, pedestrians and passengers involved must trade information. Exchange names, address, contact info, driver license numbers, license plate numbers and auto insurance information. If possible, get contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident.
4. Take photos
Get out your phone and take some pictures. Shoot the overall scene and the cars involved. Get close-ups and wider views that show weather and traffic conditions.
5. Record other pertinent information
Jot down anything you notice about weather, road conditions and the other people involved. Note the time of day. If there’s any physical evidence, such as a blown tire in the road that made you swerve, photograph it, point it out to police or bring it with you. Later you might want to return to the scene to add to your recollections. Write down a summary of the accident before you forget important details.
6. Go to the hospital
If you’re injured, have the ambulance take you to the hospital or get somebody to take you to the hospital. You might be in shock and not realize that you’re hurt. Having a record of a post-accident hospital visit can also help assess your injuries.
7. Contact an attorney
A qualified personal injury lawyer will help you handle your case in the most effective way possible. The sooner you seek representation, the better. Your attorney will help you handle communication with the defendant and insurance companies. Don’t give any statements on your own. Your attorney should be there to help and advise you. In Texas, you must file any car accident-related personal injury or property damage lawsuits within two years of the accident.
8. Report the accident to your insurance company
This should be done as soon as possible. You should report the collision and ask for the insurance coverage provided by your insurance company that will cover the collision. Some types of insurance that will cover collisions that are not your fault are: personal injury protection, underinsured motorist protection, and med-pay. These insurance policies will provide coverage even if the person who caused the wreck has insurance.
9. File an accident report
If a report wasn’t made at the scene, Texas law requires you to fill out a crash report within 10 days of an accident. This law applies if there was more than $1,000 property damage or if the accident caused injury or death. The Texas Department of Transportation will require all your insurance information as well as details of the crash.
10. Retain all documents and keep them in one place
You should keep all estimates, photographs, notes and reports in one place. If the collision caused personal or property damage, the insurance company and possibly a lawyer, will want to review the relevant documents that you have collected.