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Personal Injury

Updated:

February 17, 2022

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What to Do After a Car Accident in Texas?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5Jdp9dKCT4

Texas state law, not Dallas local law, governs compensation for a Texas car accident. The value of your personal injury claim depends largely on how you react to the accident. Following is a discussion of the steps after a car accident that is most likely to preserve the value of your claim.

Steps to Take After an Auto Accident 

Use the information you encounter below to create your own “What to do after a car accident” checklist so that you will know what steps to take after a car accident. Many of these steps are obvious, but some are not.

#1 Seek Proper Medical Care

Going to the doctor after a car accident is a necessity, even if you are feeling fine. Some injuries take time to produce symptoms. You don’t need the insurance company denying your claim because you didn’t see a doctor soon enough. As a preliminary matter, however, take the following steps in the first few minutes after the accident.

Check yourself for injuries 

Injuries after a car accident are common, even fender-benders. Your first step should be to check yourself for possible injuries after a car accident. You can’t help others if you can’t help yourself. 

Check on your passengers

Check to see if any of your passengers suffered any injuries. If so, call an ambulance and render whatever first aid you can prudently offer. 

Get to a safe location

Get your car out of the road if it is blocking traffic or the road or acting as a traffic hazard. Remain at the scene of the accident until the police arrive and cooperate with the police. You may face a dilemma. Moving an injured passenger might endanger them, but leaving them on the road might put them at risk for a second accident. 

#2 Report The Accident To The Police

Call the police or, if they are already on their way, cooperate with them whenever they arrive. A police officer will complete a Texas car accident report. The police can help even if you don’t know what to do after a car accident injury. 

Texas law requires you to report an accident to the police if it involves:

  • Death;
  • Injury; or
  • Damage to a vehicle so severe that it renders the vehicle impossible to drive.

Use your common sense. “Remaining at the scene of the accident” doesn’t mean staying outdoors when the temperature is 40 below zero outside. Just make sure the police know where you are and that you render all necessary help.

#3 Document the Evidence at the Scene of the Accident

Beyond the obvious measures, you may not know what to do after getting in a car accident. To the extent that you can, gather the following information that will help preserve your claim:

  • Photograph the scene of the accident;
  • Take photographs of any injuries to yourself, your passengers, or anybody else involved in the accident;
  • Photograph any damage to any vehicle; 
  • Collect contact details and insurance information from the other driver(s);
  • Collect contact details from anyone else involved in the accident, especially witnesses; 
  • Collect details about any vehicle involved in the accident (make, model, year, color, and VIN, for example).

You will need a copy of the police report at some point, even though it is not admissible evidence in a court of law. 

#4 Call the Insurance Company

After you leave the scene of the accident (and the hospital if necessary), don’t panic if you don’t know what to expect after a car accident in Texas. Immediately report the accident to your own insurance company, even if you don’t expect them to pay your claim. Don’t supply a lot of details until after you have hired a lawyer, however. You could end up saying something that could be used against you later.  

Since Texas is not a “no-fault” auto insurance state, if you need compensation, you must file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You must balance the need to do this quickly against your need to hire a lawyer to speak with the other driver’s insurance company.

 #5 Contact a Dallas Car Accident Attorney

This is the most important step of all. Opposing insurance companies love claimants who choose to represent themselves, but not for reasons that benefit you. There are a thousand mistakes you can make that might damage your claim, and a good personal injury attorney can protect you against all of them. 

Filing a claim 

You must be careful when you are filing an injury claim after a car accident. Texas car accident law contains nuances that can get you into trouble if you are not aware of them. If you are wondering when to hire an attorney after a car accident, the answer is “as soon as you can find a good one.” Claims need to be filed in a certain manner, and a good personal injury lawyer can help you do it right. 

Litigation to recover compensation 

Normally, you will only want to resort to a courtroom trial if settlement negotiations fail. Simply filing a lawsuit does not guarantee a trial, however, and you might want to sue simply to gather evidence that you can use in settlement negotiations.

The Texas statute of limitations answers the question, “How long after a car accident can you sue?” In most cases, the answer is two years after the accident. If you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the deadline is usually two years after the victim’s death.

What Not to Do After a Car Accident

Above all, keep your wits about you. What happens after a car accident can drastically affect the value of your claim. In particular, it is important to know what not to say after a car accident.

Never Apologize or Accept Blame

The aftermath of a car accident in Fort Worth Texas, or in Dallas is no time to be excessively polite. If you say “I'm sorry”, even out of sheer etiquette and nothing more, the opposing party can use it against you in settlement negotiations and in court. 

Do Not Post on Social Media

Shut down your social media accounts until you have resolved your case. If you absolutely cannot bear to do this, at least be very careful about what you post. Both public and private social media posts can serve as admissible evidence in a court of law. So can photographs of you enjoying yourself at a party or exercising, for example.

Posting on social media could drastically reduce your pain and suffering damages, for example, even if the photos dated from before your accident. Do not accept friend requests from anyone you do not know, and do not post anything at all about your accident.

Don’t Talk to the Other Party’s Insurer or Lawyer

Do not talk to the other party's insurer or lawyer. The other party's insurance company is only interested in protecting the interests of the other party, even if they caused the accident. Both the insurance company and the opposing party’s lawyer are your adversaries, not your friends. Don't let them sweet-talk you into believing otherwise. If they contact you, don’t speak with them, instead refer them to your lawyer.

Don’t Take the First Settlement Offer

The opposing party's first settlement offer will certainly be too low, especially if they know you don’t have a lawyer... Your best bet is to let your personal injury lawyer do the negotiating for you. Your lawyer cannot settle your claim without your permission. 

The individual components of a personal injury claim might include: 

  • Medical expenses;
  • Lost earnings;
  • Lost earning capacity;
  • Occupational disability;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Mental anguish; and 
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

Sometimes you can add punitive damages to the foregoing damages.

Conclusion

Your claim might be worth more than you think it is. That much could be true even if you haven’t made “all the right moves” as described above. If you suffered an injury in a car accident in Dallas, TX, contact Brooks & Radchenko at (903)818-8681, or simply contact us online for a free initial case review.

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It does not provide legal advice. The scenarios described in this website are intended to demonstrate legal principles involved with representation in the type of case described. Any current or former clients quoted or specifically identified in these materials have reviewed the firm on a third-party website or platform, such as Google, without compensation. Every legal case is different. Specific past results are not indicative of specific future results. Any information contained herein pertaining to experience or familiarity with particular courts or government agencies should not be construed as an ability or willingness to exert improper influence over the legal system. All services described in these materials and provided by Radchenko and
Brooks, LLC, and its attorneys, are only performed in compliance with all applicable laws and the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct.