Accidents are stressful. They can happen in the blink of an eye and often leave you with adrenaline pulsing through your veins. Being in an accident can make it difficult to think clearly, especially if you’ve been injured, but there are certain steps you absolutely need to follow to protect yourself and your ability to recover compensation. Let’s look at seven steps you should take if you’ve suffered a personal injury in an accident in Houston, TX.
Have You Suffered a Personal Injury in an Accident in Houston, TX? 7 Things to do ASAP
1. Call 911 and Have a Police Report Made
The first thing you should do immediately following an accident is call the police and have them fill out a police report detailing everything that occurred prior to your injury. If you are too injured to make the call, have someone else call for you. It’s supremely important that a report is made at the scene to document what exactly happened that led to your injury. Police reports can be a valuable source of information for any injury case.
The report itself may not be admitted in court, but it can be a useful negotiating tool when discussing a potential settlement with insurance companies. Make sure that you follow up and get a copy of the report for your records as well. That way you don’t have to worry about the report being lost and you’ll have something readily available for your attorney to review.
2. Document Everything You Can at the Scene of the Accident
You can’t always rely on the police to document everything at the scene of an accident. Police reports typically don’t include photographs. That’s why it’s important that you document everything you possibly can about the scene. If it’s a car accident, take pictures of the vehicles, where they were damaged, the specific location of the crash, etc. This may be the only photographic evidence that exists, and it could go a long way in strengthening your case for compensation.
Also be sure to document what you noticed leading up to the accident, including what happened that caused your injury, when you felt the injury, how severe the injury was, and the general conditions surrounding where the accident took place. The sooner this is done, the more credible the information will be. Once again, if you’re too injured to take photos or make the documentations yourself, have someone else do it for you.
3. Find Witnesses and Get Their Contact Information
Witnesses’ accounts can be invaluable when it comes to making your injury claim. Witnesses usually leave the scene of an accident before a police report can be made, meaning your case may be your word versus the other driver’s. You would have a much stronger position if there were third-party witnesses who backed up your recollection of events. If possible, you should ask any witnesses to stick around until a report is made and collect their contact information.
Even if these witnesses don’t stay long enough to speak with police officers, having a way to find them could make or break your case if you end up going to trial. It certainly won’t hurt to have their info handy. Witness statements can also provide you with greater leverage when negotiating a settlement offer with the insurance company.
4. Collect Important Information from the Other Driver in the Case of a Car Accident
If you’re in an automobile accident that leads to your injury, be sure to get the other driver’s contact and other important information. First, be sure you get their name, address, and phone number in case you or your attorney need to reach them. Next, be sure to get their insurance and vehicle information, including the insurance company’s name, the insurance policy number, and the car’s license plate number, make, model and year.
5. Contact Your Insurance Company, But Be Careful
Also for auto accidents, make sure that you contact your insurance company right after the accident tell them that the accident has occurred. Do not make any statements regarding the accident, however. If the other driver involved doesn’t have enough insurance coverage or has no coverage at all, you will have to look to your own insurance company for compensation under your uninsured motorist policy. Any statement you give an insurance adjuster can later be used in court against you.
When you speak with your insurance company immediately following the accident, tell them that you won’t be making any statements about the accident itself until you’ve spoken with an attorney. Your insurance company may be offering you coverage, but they don’t always have your best interests at heart. They will only pay the minimum that they possibly can when it comes to any claim. So be sure that you’re on guard during any interaction you have with them.
6. Seek Medical Treatment and Get a Thorough Evaluation
Following an accident, make sure you go see a doctor and have them run all tests possible. The more information, the better when it comes to evaluating the extent of your injuries. If your doctor does not identify a particular injury in your initial evaluations, but later discovers the injury, you will meet much more resistance from the insurance company when it comes to asserting that the injury was a direct result of the accident.
It is paramount that you mention every detail, every ache and pain, when you speak with a doctor about your injuries. You may not think much of a minor backache right after the accident, but what if that ache gets worse and you are forced to quit your job because of it? The longer you wait to bring it up, the harder it will be to show that it was the accident that caused the ache to begin with.
7. Talk to an Attorney Immediately
Even though this one is last on the list, it is undoubtedly the most important: speak with an attorney as soon as you possibly can following your accident. For one, an attorney can tell you what you need to do next if you are unsure. They are an invaluable resource to help walk you through the steps necessary to make sure you receive the maximum compensation possible for your injuries.
A personal injury attorney will also know how to acquire and preserve evidence that supports your case and gives you a much stronger position when it comes to negotiating a settlement. In short, an attorney will know exactly what to do and can help ensure that you receive the maximum compensation in the shortest amount of time. Why stumble through the process alone when an experienced attorney can make your recovery much quicker and easier?
Personal injury cases are anything but easy. They often require much time and effort at a time when you’re at your most vulnerable. Don’t try to fight the insurance companies on your own. If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner. We’ve been fighting for the good folks of Houston, TX since 1951, and we want to fight for you and help you move on from the past to focus on the future.