Involved in a Car Wreck? Here Are 6 Things You Simply Must Do Immediately
Updated: Aug 22, 2019
According to data from the US Census Bureau, more than 128 million Americans commute to work every day in a vehicle. With this large number of vehicles on the move every day, traffic events are bound to occur.
Considering the vast number of vehicles on the road, it’s no wonder that car accidents are the most common type of personal injury accidents. The average number of car accidents in a year is a shocking 6 million.
If you have been involved in an accident, you need to take several actions immediately. Regardless whether you’re covered by insurance, one of the first things you need to do is see a doctor. Do it right away and definitely within 48 hours. A second thing to do is find yourself a skilled attorney experienced in auto accident and personal injury law.
At Hayes Hunter PC, we have amassed several years’ experience handling personal injury and auto accident cases. One thing we have noticed over the years is that drivers often fail to act deliberately after an accident.
Although insurance companies claim to be on your side, the simple truth is that they act foremost to protect their own financial interests. Accordingly, they may not share this information with you. In fact, I haven’t seen any insurance company list of things to do after an accident include seeking medical advice. Interesting? And, they certainly won’t tell you that some doctors and chiropractors will see you without insurance or up-front payment.
To help you react appropriately in the event of an auto accident, we created this guide. Here is our list of the 6 things you need to do immediately after an accident.
#1: Do not leave the scene
In the aftermath of the car accident, you are likely to be confused, hurt or even scared. It’s only natural to react like that. But no matter how you feel, it is important that you remain at the accident scene and check to see if anyone is injured.
If you find any person injured or if you are injured yourself, immediately call emergency services. This is not only the right thing to do, it is also the law. You are legally required to remain at the scene of an accident and exchange your personal details with all involved persons.
#2: Call the police
In Texas, drivers don’t have to call a police officer to an accident scene if no one is injured, everyone has insurance, and everyone is sober and nice. Otherwise, you should call 9-1-1, and definitely must do so if the other driver leaves the scene prior to exchanging information, if it is a major accident with heavy damage or injuries, or if a vehicle must be towed.
Generally, you want officers to respond to an accident scene to complete a Crash Report and document the accident scene. If the police are not available, be sure to complete a “blue form” available here. This form must be completed within 10 days.
#3: Get Medical Attention
Once emergency services arrive, submit yourself for medical attention. If you cannot access medical attention at the scene of the accident, get to a doctor no more than 48 hours after. It is vital that you do not refuse medical attention for two reasons. First, your health is very important, you owe it to yourself to make your health a priority.
Second, even if you don't feel significant pain or find any outward signs of injury, that doesn’t necessarily mean all is fine. There are many hard to detect effects like internal bleeding or damage that you may have sustained as a result of the car accident.
If you fail to seek medical attention immediately and hidden injuries become apparent later, it will be difficult to tie those injuries to the accident. In truth, insurance companies usually look out for lapses such as this and will use this as an excuse to deny or limit your claim.
Do not let the expense of medical care deter you from getting the attention you deserve. Even if you do not have auto or health insurance, law firms such as Hayes Hunter PC can help you see a doctor no matter your financial resources.
#4: Gather Detailed ‘Intelligence’
The less information or evidence you have about your car wreck, the better for the insurance company. Documenting everything will go a long way in helping your claim.
This is because car wrecks can often degenerate into “he said, she said” affairs. It will be much more difficult for you to make a successful claim when you have little evidence to back up your story. If you are wondering what sort of evidence you can possibly get from the accident scene, you can start with the following:
Once the police have finished investigating the accident, they should give you an Incident Number to use to reference the accident when asking for a copy of their Crash Report from their police agency. If you're not offered the Incident Number, ask for it and write it down or snap a copy of it with your phone’s camera. Usually, you receive the Incident Number from the police on a card or slip of paper.
Document the accident. Take pictures and video and of the accident scene and the vehicles involved from different angles and showing the damage done to your car. Take pictures of the other car’s license plate and its damage. Photograph skid marks and debris from the accident. Include pictures of stop signs and traffic signals. The more photos the better, if you are in any shape to take them.
Take down the names and addresses of all parties involved, including any passengers in the other vehicle and any bystanders who saw the accident.
Witnesses are vital, if they exist.
#5: Guard your communication at the scene of the accident, with insurance reps and even with your doctor
Do not lie – ever. But be careful with your comments. If you carry insurance, you must contact your insurer to report the accident. In fact, failing to do this will be considered a breach of your insurance agreement.
But it is absolutely vital that you watch what you say at the accident scene, to insurance representatives, and even to your doctor. Avoid statements that tend to imply you were at fault. For instance, statements like “I should have been more careful” should be avoided. (Everyone should be more careful!).
Also, do not downplay your loss or injury with statements like “It was not really a serious accident”. You may not yet know how serious it was or will be. Give facts, not conclusions or opinions, and never, never guess or speculate. “Just the facts, ma’am.” Don’t admit fault, even if you feel you were at fault. Fault is a legal issue, and you may not know or understand the law.
Often, the best thing you can do is wait until you have consulted with your attorney before you speak to anyone about the accident.
#6: Find yourself a skilled Houston auto accident attorney
If there’s one thing insurance companies don’t want you to do, it’s definitely hiring an attorney. As such, if you refuse to hire a lawyer after your car wreck accident, you may be doing the insurance company a favor.
Failing to hire a lawyer at the outset may look to may look to the insurance companies like a sign you are not really taking your claim seriously. This will embolden them because they know they will typically have to pay you more money if you hire a lawyer. They may even try to convince you they are willing to settle with you and you don’t need a lawyer.
Do not listen to them. Failing to hire a lawyer will cause great disadvantage to you. Not only is it possible that you’ll be intimidated, you most likely will recover significantly less than you're entitled. And that’s assuming they give you anything at all.
Contact us at Hayes Hunter PC
At Hayes Hunter PC, we give you the attention you deserve. We’ll protect your interests and work hard to get you all the compensation the law allows. Book a free consultation with us here or call (281) 768-4731 to set up a no obligation meeting today. I’m Charlie Hunter, and you can call me your lawyer. Call us today.