After a car accident, adrenaline is rushing and emotions are running high. It’s normal to feel uncertain about what to do next, and your instinct may be to leave the scene as soon as possible. It’s important to take certain critical steps to protect your health and financial interests. Overlooking these steps could undermine your ability to collect compensation for your injuries and other losses.
Contact the Police
Even if it appears that there isn’t much damage to either vehicle, you should summon the police. In many cases, damage and evidence from the scene aren’t obvious. A police officer will fill out a detailed report that is a critical piece of evidence in insurance settlements and will be needed to file a claim or lawsuit to recover damages.
Gather Information at the Accident Scene
Act as quickly as you can to document as much as possible about the accident. If possible, take photos of the aftermath of the accident. Take photos of any damage to the vehicles, as well as license plate numbers. Also photograph skid marks, debris, damaged trees or property, and the entire area where the accident occurred. If you or your passengers have visible injuries, photograph those as well.
Exchange License and Insurance Information
Exchange driver’s license numbers, insurance info, and contact information with the other driver. Do not discuss who was at fault or engage in any arguments. Remain calm and cordial. Do not say that you are uninjured because the rush of adrenaline may mask injuries in the immediate aftermath of an accident. It may be a day or two before your injuries become evident, and your comments about your injuries could be used against you later.
Get a Medical Evaluation and Document Your Condition
Even if you do not believe you are injured, you should still go to a doctor and get a full medical evaluation. Do this as soon as possible after the accident, and let the doctor know that you were in an accident so that the doctor can document that you were in an accident, and treat any injuries you may have suffered. Some serious injuries can be hidden, such as closed-head injuries, so be alert to your physical condition. Keep a pain diary to track how you feel in the following days and return to the doctor for help if your condition deteriorates.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Within 24 hours of a car accident, notify your insurance company that you have been involved in an accident. Document the details of all conversations you have with your agent. If the other driver’s insurance adjuster contacts you and wants to record a statement or makes a settlement offer, do not agree or sign anything. Any settlement offer should be reviewed by an experienced accident lawyer who can advise you whether the settlement offer is fair. Generally, insurance companies will offer low initial settlement estimates to try to clear claims as quickly as possible.
Understand Your Legal Options
A car accident can be a traumatic and confusing event. To help you navigate the claims process, you need a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer. At Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C., we will work to pursue just compensation for your suffering and medical expenses after a Texas car accident. To learn more or to discuss your case, contact us at 844-426-3000.
- org: Post-Accident Checklist
- org: How to File an Accident Report with the Police
- Consumer Reports: When to Report a Car Accident to an Insurance Company