After a serious car accident, you may have a lot of medical expenses for an ambulance ride, emergency room treatment and hospitalization. You may miss weeks of work while you are recovering and experience a substantial loss of income and financial stress.
If another motorist caused your car accident, Texas law allows those who are injured to seek monetary damages from the at-fault driver. Settlements vary depending on the severity of the injuries and facts of the accident. Car accident victims cannot control whether another motorist drives carelessly or disregards the rules of the road.
But car accident victims can control how they respond after a crash. Our attorneys at Herrman & Herrman have settled thousands of car accident claims for accident victims. Based on our experience, we’ve compiled a list of steps after a car accident that affect the ultimate value of a car accident claim.
Steps to Follow to Get The Best Compensation after a Car Accident
First, Call the Police
Call the police and report the car accident. Remain at the scene until the officer arrives. Request an ambulance if anyone needs medical attention. A police accident report documents the details of the accident and the drivers involved. Police are trained to investigate crashes. Answer the questions from police honestly. Do not blame yourself or try to blame others. The police will decide about fault based on the facts of the accident.
Insurance companies will look to the official police report to provide a credible summary of the accident. The other driver could change their story and decide to blame you.
Without an accident report, you will not have an official record to support your injury claim, and it will simply be your word against that of the other driver.
Gather Evidence at the Scene
If you are physically able after a crash and can do so safely, you should take photos of the accident scene before the vehicles are moved. Photograph the damage to the vehicles from a variety of angles as well as your injuries. Take photos of any traffic light or stop sign and any skid marks in the road. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident. Photograph any vegetation that was blocking lines of sight.
Preserve evidence of the accident. Once the accident scene is cleared, certain evidence may be lost, so take as many photographs as possible. Photographs may provide evidence to support your accident claim and help you obtain maximum compensation for your injuries.
Seek Medical Treatment
You should seek a medical evaluation after a car accident, even if you do not need emergency medical care. Inform the doctor that you have been in an auto accident. Some injuries such as concussions may not be apparent immediately after a collision, except to a trained medical professional. Adrenaline can mask some injuries. A doctor’s report will document your injuries and when they occurred. The report may be used as evidence to support your injury claim later.
Getting the maximum compensation for your claim requires medical documentation of your injuries. You’ll need a doctor’s report that connects your injuries to the car accident. It’s important to seek medical treatment promptly after a car accident and to keep all follow-up appointments. You may want to skip the doctor’s visit if you are only a little sore, but it’s important to see a doctor.
Call Your Insurance Company
Your car insurance policy requires you to report accidents in a timely manner. Some injuries are not apparent at the accident scene. If you don’t notify your insurance company of the accident at the time it happened and then try to make a claim weeks later, the insurance company may deny your claim.
Your auto insurance policy provides coverage such as uninsured motorist coverage that you may need to utilize if the other driver is driving without insurance. It’s more common than you might guess.
Keep in mind that notifying your insurance company is not the same as filing a claim. Don’t be concerned that simply notifying your insurance company will prompt an increase in your insurance premiums. It won’t.
Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer
Inform yourself of your legal options by talking with a qualified personal injury lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney can discuss whether you are entitled to demand compensation from another driver after a car crash.
Understanding your legal rights is critical. An attorney will have a sense of whether a settlement offered by an insurance company is fair.
Don’t Give Statements or Sign Papers Without Your Attorney’s Approval
Beware of insurance adjusters. Anything you say to an adjuster may be used against you to undermine your claim.
You should never accept a settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company without having a personal injury lawyer review the settlement. Insurance companies want to pay as little as possible to settle claims to protect their profits. An insurance adjuster’s offer may seem reasonable at first glance, but it may not cover all your medical expenses, especially if you require ongoing care and can reasonably expect future expenses.
Don’t Talk About Your Case
There are people who you should talk to after a car accident and people who you should avoid engaging in a conversation about your accident.
You should talk to:
- The police—Report the accident and wait for a law enforcement officer to arrive. Answer the officer’s questions honestly with facts. Avoid speculation. Do not blame yourself or cast blame on others. The police will determine who is at fault. Ask the officer when a copy of the accident report will be available and how you can obtain a copy. You will need a police report describing the accident and the parties involved if you wish to maximize the compensation.
- A doctor —Seek medical attention, even if you feel unhurt. Inform the doctor that you were involved in a car crash. A surge of adrenaline may mask your injuries initially. But you may feel much more sore and achy two or three days afterward. Seek medical attention promptly. A doctor’s report connects your injuries to the car accident. If you wait two or three weeks to go to the doctor, then the insurance companies may question whether your injuries were related to the collision.
- Your insurance company—Report the accident to your insurance company promptly and provide the name of the other driver and the driver’s insurance company.
- A lawyer—Have a personal injury lawyer review the details of the accident and explain whether you are entitled to file a car accident injury lawsuit. Being well-informed about your legal options is the best way to maximize your compensation.
You should not talk to:
- The other driver—You should not engage the other driver involved in the collision in conversation about the accident. Don’t apologize for the accident or try to reassure the other driver that you are uninjured. Such comments may be used against you. You should exchange license and insurance information with the other driver, but wait for the police to arrive to discuss the accident.
- Social Media— It may be tempting to alert your friends about your car accident on social media. You should resist the urge to talk to your friends about the accident. Don’t post any comments or photos on social media about your car accident. If you are claiming serious injuries and your Facebook page shows photos of you playing with children or your latest vacation, insurers may use these images to call into question the seriousness of your injuries.
- The other driver’s insurance company—If an adjuster from the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, you should not discuss details of the accident or sign anything sent by the other driver’s insurance company without seeking legal advice. The adjuster may use a statement you give to minimize your claim.
Never Underestimate Your Losses
Your losses after a car accident are not just your car repairs and medical expenses. Your losses may include loss of income if you have to miss work, and the emotional trauma you feel and diminished quality of life.
You want to work with a lawyer who is committed to seeking full compensation for your losses and not accepting a low-ball settlement.
Take a step toward pursuing compensation for your car accident injuries by contacting a car accident attorney at Herrman & Herrman. Our legal team has more than 100 years of combined legal experience, and we have helped people throughout south Texas. Herrman & Herrman has offices in Corpus Christi, McAllen, Brownsville and San Antonio to serve clients.
Call (361) 882-4357 to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer. We offer a free case review.