Key Steps to Take After a Car Accident in Texas
The aftermath of a car crash can be overwhelming. Many people suffer from shock. Other accident victims might be in severe pain from injuries.
The steps you take after a car accident in Texas can significantly impact your chance of receiving fair compensation for your injury-related damages.
Keep in mind the following steps if you are in a car accident in Texas:
Duty to Report a Car Accident
According to §550.026 of the Texas Transportation Code, drivers must immediately report a traffic accident involving injury, death, or significant damage to a vehicle. Calling 911 is the quickest and easiest way to comply with the law.
The emergency operator dispatches the correct law enforcement agency based on the location of the accident.
The operator can also dispatch emergency medical services.
Document the Accident Scene
Texas insurance laws require drivers to purchase liability insurance coverage. The purpose of liability insurance is to protect accident victims. Your insurance coverage compensates others for damages caused by an accident that is your fault.
Likewise, an at-fault driver’s insurance will compensate you for damages from an accident that is not your fault.
However, you must prove that the other driver caused the crash. Evidence from the accident scene can help prove fault.
Therefore, take pictures and make a video of the accident scene, if possible. Try to capture the location of the vehicles, damage to the cars, skid marks, and any road signs or traffic signals.
Also, ask witnesses and bystanders for their names and contact information.
Seek Medical Care for Car Accident Injuries
Documentation of your injuries is crucial for a personal injury claim. Therefore, seeing a doctor promptly after a car accident can help your case.
Report all symptoms to the doctor, even minor aches and pains. Minor aches and pains might indicate a severe injury. Or, you might have an injury that was not diagnosed immediately after the crash.
Notify Your Insurance Provider
Make sure you notify your insurance provider of the accident. Your insurance agent or a claims adjuster may take a statement.
Be careful what you say to your insurance company. You do not want to admit fault or make statements that could be used against you in a personal injury case.
File an Insurance Claim
If the other driver caused the accident, you could file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. However, you need to be cautious when speaking to a claims adjuster.
The claims adjuster works to protect the insurance company’s best interest. Therefore, the adjuster will use any information they can obtain to undervalue or deny your claim.
You should consider seeking legal counsel before making a statement, answering questions, or signing any documents for the insurance company — even when dealing with your insurance provider.
Document Your Damages After the Accident
Keep a detailed log of your medical expenses, lost wages, and other financial losses associated with the accident. If you need help with personal care or household chores, keep copies of all payments related to the care or service.
Make sure you keep all the bills, receipts, invoices, and other proof of expenses.
Also, keep a journal detailing your recovery. Pain and suffering damages are difficult to value. Having detailed information about how your injuries impacted your daily life can be helpful to your claim.
Information in your pain and suffering journal may include your pain levels, activities you cannot perform, bouts of depression or anxiety, and how the injuries impact your relationships with family and friends.
Seek Legal Advice in Texas
Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations for accident victims. These meetings provide you with an opportunity to learn about your legal rights and the statute of limitations for accident claims.
The Texas statute of limitations for most car accident claims is two years from the crash date.
However, some factors could shorten or lengthen the deadline. Therefore, do not delay seeking legal advice.
Settle Your Personal Injury Claim
If you sustained minor injuries and know the value of your injury claim, the final step would be to settle the claim with the insurance company.
However, keep in mind that settlement agreements contain clauses forfeiting your right to future claims.
In other words, you could not demand more money even if you realize you have another injury or additional damages.
Therefore, if you are unsure about the value of your damages, you might want to obtain legal help to settle your claim.
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