What To Do If You Are In An Automobile Accident
STOP AT THE SCENE
Texas law generally requires that a vehicle involved in an accident wherein a person is injured or damage is done to some property shall immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible without obstructing traffic more than is necessary. After stopping, remain at the scene of the accident to aid the injured, protect the scene, report to the police, and gather information.
ASSIST THE INJURED
If someone is injured, call for an ambulance. Do not move the injured person unless you know what you are doing. Good intentions on your part may result in further injuries.
PROTECT THE SCENE
Warn approaching vehicles by raising the hood of your car and using your hazard warning lights. In addition, for nighttime accidents, place flares, reflectors, and/or flashlights on the road.
CALL THE POLICE
Call the local Police or the State Highway Patrol immediately.
Exchange information with the driver of the other vehicle: Name, address, phone numbers, driver's license number, date of birth, social security number, occupation, vehicle make and model, license plate number, name of insurance company and policy number. If the driver of the vehicle is not the owner, make sure you also get all of the above information for the owner.
IDENTIFY PASSENGERS & WITNESSES
Obtain the names and addresses of all passengers and witnesses as soon as you can.
DO NOT ADMIT RESPONSIBILITY
While exchanging and gathering information about the accident, it is extremely important that you do not admit responsibility for the accident. Keep your own notes and comments strictly to yourself. Admit nothing and sign nothing even if you think you are in the wrong. Your emotions at the time of the accident may deceive you.
ASSIST THE OFFICER
Remain at the scene, unless injured, until the officer arrives. Cooperate with the officer by advising him of the basic facts of the accident only. Remember: no one can force you to give an opinion as to the cause of the accident at the scene, at police headquarters, or elsewhere. You have the right to consult a lawyer before making any statement. If it is a serious accident, consult a lawyer as quickly as possible. Any statement made may be used as an admission, so it is important that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible before making any statement. If you receive a traffic ticket, it does not mean that you are guilty of a traffic offense or that you are responsible for the accident, and when you go to court you should never plead guilty. Before going to court, always consult your lawyer.
MAKE A DIAGRAM OF THE ACCIDENT SCENE
Make your own written notes on all significant circumstances concerning the accident. Show position of cars after the accident. Step off exact distances of skid marks and other important distances. Be certain that you can at a later date point out on the road where the vehicles collided and where they came to a stop. If you or someone else has a camera at the scene, take pictures to preserve skid marks, position of cars, and other physical evidence that will disappear after the accident.
Before you allow a tow truck driver to pick up your car, be sure to ask the driver how much it will cost and tell the driver where to take your car. Get the name, address and telephone number of the driver and the towing company.
WHEN TO LEAVE THE SCENE
Unless your injuries compel you to do otherwise, do not leave the scene of the accident until you have, as outlined previously, assisted the injured, protected the scene, called the police and briefly explained the facts of the accident, identified the other driver, obtained the names, addresses, and statements of all witnesses, and made notes.
SEE A PHYSICIAN
Serious and costly injuries do not always result in immediate pain, broken bones, or bleeding. You may not be aware of your injuries until hours or even days after the accident. If you start developing any neck or back pain, soreness, headache, or other similar symptoms at anytime after the accident, go to a chiropractor or other physician as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours. Your Automobile Insurance Medical Payment Coverage, if available, will pay for your medical services, and you should always make use of this insurance coverage regardless of who is at fault in the accident.
INFORM INSURANCE COMPANY
Call your insurance company's claims department as soon as possible after the accident, regardless of who caused the accident. Failure to make a prompt and correct report may affect your rights. Follow up your phone call with a written notice and save a copy. The written notice should contain only the date, time and place of the accident, along with the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the other drivers, injured persons, passengers, and witnesses. You should also file a claim as soon as possible with the other driver's insurance company. Do not give any oral or written statement to any insurance representative until you have consulted with your attorney.