Steps to Take After a Car Accident
Unexpected collisions leave most of us feeling overwhelmed. With adrenaline pumping, it is not easy to maintain composure. Remembering the following steps after a crash can help if you decide to pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Move to Safety
Secondary accidents are possible. If your vehicle is in a position that may be struck again by oncoming traffic, move the car to a safer place. If driving your vehicle is not possible, put your hazard lights on to warn passing drivers that your car is in the roadway and to take caution.
Call the Police
Texas law requires you to report a car accident to the police if it results in serious injuries, death, or property damage exceeding $1,000.
However, it is wise to call the police anyway.
A reporting police officer can assess the physical condition of involved parties and request medical assistance if needed. Additionally, they create an accident report detailing the facts surrounding your accident.
In some situations, a police officer may even decide on fault in their report.
Seek Medication Attention
Many serious injuries are evident following an accident, and reporting police will request emergency medical care.
However, some injuries are not immediately apparent and may lead you to believe you have escaped from your collision injury-free.
Many serious injuries appear in the hours, days, or even weeks following an accident, so seeking a medical evaluation is crucial regardless of how you initially feel.
For example, internal bleeding and concussions can be life-threatening but may not hinder you at the scene.
Medical records strengthen your claim for compensation by maintaining a connection between the collision and your injury. If you wait days or weeks to obtain a diagnosis, insurance companies and the at-fault driver may argue that your injuries did not result from the accident.
As you wait for the police to arrive, speak to individuals at the scene. Get the other driver’s name, contact information, and insurance details. You should also obtain the contact details of any witnesses.
Your attorney will contact the witnesses to determine whether their testimony may help establish the driver’s liability.
Write notes detailing the events leading up to, during, and immediately after the collision.
A traumatic event may seem unforgettable. But important details can disappear from memory in the days and weeks following an accident.
Writing these observations down shortly after your collision can refresh your memory.
If you are physically able, take photographs of the accident scene, including:
- The vehicle’s position immediately after the accident;
- Damage to the vehicles involved;
- Road conditions, and
- Your injuries.
Video footage can be helpful if you suspect the other driver was intoxicated or to record inclement weather at the time of your accident. Any evidence that helps maintain an accurate picture of the scene at the time of the accident is useful for your attorney.
Call an Attorney
Speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Insurance adjusters may be eager to speak with you and push you into an unfair settlement.
A car accident lawyer in Houston can take over these communications and negotiate on your behalf so that you can focus on recovering.
How Is Fault Determined?
Texas operates as an at-fault state for car accidents. At-fault states require injured victims to file claims with the negligent party’s insurance company. Determining fault in Texas car accidents requires proving the following elements of negligence:
- Duty. The driver had a duty of care to operate their vehicle safely.
- Breach. The driver failed to operate their vehicle safely, breaching this duty.
- Causation. The driver’s breach caused an accident.
- Damages. The injured victim suffered injuries and losses due to the driver’s breach.
Even when you may be partially at fault for causing the accident, do not assume you will be unable to recover compensation.
Texas’s comparative negligence standard allows a victim to recover damages for an accident as long as their percentage of responsibility does not equate to or exceed 51%.
How Much Is the Average Car Accident Settlement?
There is no such thing as an average car accident settlement. How much you can expect in a settlement depends on various factors, including:
- A determination of fault. The larger the percentage of fault attributable to the other party, the larger your settlement will be.
- The severity of your injuries. Those suffering severe injuries requiring long-term rehabilitation or physical therapy get larger settlements.
- Insurance coverage limitations. Low insurance coverage limits negatively impact your potential settlement payout. For example, if an insurance policy only covers $30,000 for injuries, but your medical expenses exceed $50,000, you might not receive the total value of your losses. When this happens, you and your car accident lawyer in Houston may discuss other avenues for compensation.
- The strength of available evidence. More evidence supporting your claim helps you obtain the full value of your demand. Evidence includes police reports, witness statements, photographs, medical records, and pay stubs.
- Your ability to return to work. The longer your injury keeps you from working, the greater your settlement value. In some situations, an injury may permanently prevent a victim from ever working again. These cases get larger settlements due to a victim’s lost wages and potential loss of future earnings.
The degree to which these factors affect your case could result in more or less compensation than you could have anticipated.
A car accident lawyer in Houston works to maximize impact to get you the financial support you deserve.
What Is a Texas Car Accident Report?
A Texas car accident report is usually around two pages long and contains the following information about your crash:
- Time, date, and crash location;
- Name and contact information for all drivers involved;
- Name and contact information for any other parties involved;
- Vehicle make and model and VINs;
- If there were any charges filed against a driver for any traffic violations;
- Whether there were any injuries or deaths, or if medical emergency services transported a victim;
- A narrative describing the events;
- Diagram visualizing the events of the accident, and
- The potential liability of any driver involved.
Accident reports provide unbiased third-party facts regarding a collision and can sometimes assist in determining fault. A Houston car accident lawyer can help you get a copy of your report from the agency that reported to the scene of your accident.
Talk to an Attorney With a History of Success With Car Accidents
Retaining a car accident lawyer in Houston should not add stress to your situation.
As you focus on your recovery, your attorney begins analyzing the facts of your case to strengthen your legal claim and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. There are various ways that an attorney can help you include the following:
- Gathering crucial evidence to determine fault in the accident;
- Identifying all liable parties;
- Communicating with insurance adjusters and opposing counsel;
- Preserving all proof of your damages;
- Calculating your future medical expenses and other losses;
- Leading negotiations and settlement discussions with insurance companies and other attorneys,
- Drafting necessary legal documents, and
- Litigating your case at trial if settlement negotiations fail.
At a minimum, managing these aspects of a personal injury case without a lawyer while recovering from injuries is incredibly challenging. You should never have to settle for less than what your case is worth.
Unfortunately, insurance companies are not out to pay the total value of your losses, and you may fall victim to their aggressive pushes forcing you to accept an insufficient settlement.
A car accident lawyer in Houston TX, helps you get the compensation you need to move forward.
Contact Our Car Accident Attorneys Today
At Armstrong, Lee & Baker LLP, we are your advocates.
The relationship between our firm and clients represents a sacred trust. We never view our clients as a number or just another case.
Instead, we are always mindful that we represent individuals that have been wronged, injured, and lost loved ones.
Our legal team draws on a strong and diverse body of expertise and experience to provide our clients with the highest-caliber legal representation in all kinds of personal injury cases.
If you or someone you care about is injured, please do not hesitate to contact us for a case review.
Our consultations are always free, and we never take a fee unless we obtain a settlement or judgment on your behalf. Call or email us today.