What Should I Do Immediately After a Car Accident?

The very first thing to do after a car accident in Houston, TX is to remain calm. You don’t want to discuss the accident with anyone other than the police, your insurance company, and a car accident lawyer. From there, you want to methodically take the proceed one step at a time. Your goals are to make sure everyone is safe and that the accident is properly documented.

What a Car Accident Lawyer in Houston, TX Would Have Everyone Do After an Accident

1. Injury Assessment

The first thing to do is check yourself for injuries. Due to the shock of the accident, you may not realize you’re injured at first. Do take a moment to assess your state before you risk any movement. If you’re injured you should stay still and wait, but if you’re okay then it’s time to check on passengers.

If someone is injured, call 911 immediately or ask a bystander to do so. If not, then move to the next step.

2. Move to a Safe Area

First, assess whether your vehicle is safe to drive. If so, then pull the vehicle over to the side of the road. If you suspect the car is not safe to drive, or it won’t start, get out of the vehicle and move to a safe area. This will prevent any further accidents or injuries.

3. Contact the Authorities

Even if it’s just a minor accident, it’s important to contact the police and get an accident report. This will be helpful for an insurance claim or any legal proceedings later on. Remember, leaving the scene of an accident is illegal and can result in fines and even criminal charges. Follow the necessary steps to make sure everyone’s safety and legal obligations are met.

You can contact the authorities by calling 911. Alternatively, you can contact the police department directly. This may make sense in a minor fender bender with no injuries. If you need medical attention on the scene as well, 911 is the number to call.

4. Wait

If your adrenaline is pumping after the accident, it’s common to feel the need to talk to others or take action. However, the next step is to quietly wait for help. Turn off your vehicle’s engine and put on the hazard lights to avoid accidents. If you have road flares in your car’s emergency kit, go ahead and put them out.

There is a chance that a tow truck you didn’t call may pull over and offer help. If you didn’t contact them, avoid them. There are reported instances of tow truck drivers taking cars to facilities and then demanding unreasonable payouts to get the car free.

5. Exchange Information

Drivers of all vehicles should exchange information. This should include your names, addresses, and phone numbers. You’ll need the insurance company name and policy number. Write down vehicle information like the plate number, type, color, and model of the vehicle.

You’ll also want to take note of the location of the accident. If there were witnesses, ask for their names and phone numbers.

6. Document

Take pictures of the vehicles involved in the accident, with special attention to any damage. Also, take photos of the surrounding area and any injuries. Then, write down the identities of officers, witnesses, and all parties involved. At the scene, ask the police officers for a copy of the accident report.

This documentation can be submitted to your insurance company to help support your claim. Keep all of this documentation stored somewhere safe.

7. Notify Your Insurance Company

Some people wait to do this when they get home, but you want to do it as soon as possible. If you’re comfortable, you may even call them after you’re done exchanging information and talking to the authorities. Notify them of the accident, get your representative’s information, and ask where to send your documentation for your insurance claim.

8. Seek Medical Attention

If you knew you were injured, you would have sought out medical attention before following any of the other steps on this list. That is always the first priority. However, if you seem to be uninjured, you may have waited.

Even if you feel fine, though, it’s a good idea to get checked out by a medical professional. Doing this as soon as possible after the accident can help you avoid future issues. If it turns out you were unaware of an injury, you’ll want that documented right away for your insurance claims.

Steps To Take After You Leave the Scene of the Accident

1. Consult a Trusted Car Accident Lawyer 

An attorney works to protect your rights and interests. If there is any chance of legal issues or disputes arising from the accident, you’ll want them on your side. Getting in touch with them sooner rather than later is always a good idea. This way, they can make sure you contact the right authorities and acquire the right documentation along the way.

Your attorney will prepare you to talk to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. They can help educate you on your rights with your insurance policy as well. There may be notice policies within your insurance documentation that requires action from you. The language in some of these policies may be confusing.

2. Notify the DOT 

Every state has its own requirements for reporting accidents to the state. In Texas, the DOT requires you to report any accident that wasn’t investigated by a police officer. This rule applies in accidents where any person sustained an injury or property damage exceeded $1,000. You have 10 days to report the accident to the Houston, TX DOT following the accident.

3. Visit a Mechanic

If it was just a fender bender, you may question whether to visit a mechanic. This is a great time to go ahead and get an oil change, brake check, and other routine maintenance. Your mechanic can make sure nothing in your engine is cracked. They can also check that no wiring came loose.

These may be inexpensive fixes up front that save you from long term damage later. Let your mechanic know you were in an accident. If they find anything wrong, make sure to document that and include it with your other documentation.

4. File Your Insurance Claim

Immediately after the accident, you hopefully notified your insurance company of the accident. Then, it’s time to get your real claim in, so you can get your benefits. With some insurance companies, you can do this using their mobile app. Otherwise, you’ll want to call in and/or file a report through their website.

Submit all the documentation you collected with your insurance claim. They’ll probably assign an insurance adjuster to your claim, who will then inspect your vehicle. This will help them determine fault, repair costs, and a plan moving forward. If the vehicle is totaled, you may receive its value in cash.

5. Attend Medical Appointments

Immediately following the accident, you checked in with your medical professional. If they gave you any follow-up instructions, make sure to follow them. If you notice any symptoms, including emotional changes, in the following weeks, report them. Make sure you document any medical visits and keep that documentation with everything you collect about the accident.

Car accidents can leave anyone overwhelmed and unsure about the next steps. Don’t hesitate to reach out to help from medical professionals and lawyers. Remember that your insurance company has a legal team on their side, and you deserve the same. If you’ve been in an accident, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner today