What To Do After A Car Accident
An accident can turn your world upside down in the blink of an eye. When you suffer serious injuries in a car crash caused by someone else, you’re faced with numerous questions, such as:
- How will I cover my medical expenses?
- How will I support myself and my family?
- Do I have a case against the at-fault driver?
The knowledgeable Houston car accident attorneys at Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC, want to support you through this challenging time and help you seek compensation for your losses. We’ll guide you through every step of the legal process, including the steps you can take in the hours, days, and months following the crash to protect your health and right to financial recovery.
I Just Got Into a Car Accident in Houston. What Should I Do?
A car accident can leave you feeling disoriented and overwhelmed, but it’s essential to remain calm and think through your next steps. The actions you take after a car accident can significantly impact your legal rights and ability to recover money.
1. Report the crash.
If you are involved in a Houston motor vehicle accident resulting in injury, death, or damage to a vehicle to the extent that it can’t be safely driven, you are required to report the accident to the police immediately. The police officer who investigates the accident is then required to submit a written report to the Texas Department of Transportation within 10 days, assuming the crash involved injury, death, or apparent property damage of $1,000 or more. Securing a copy of this report could be crucial for your injury claim, as it will include details about the accident and may even include an opinion on fault.
2. Exchange information.
Talk to any drivers, vehicle occupants, and others involved in the crash to exchange important information. Make sure you have contact information, vehicle information, and insurance details from the other driver or drivers. If you don’t have a pen or paper handy, you can always take photos of insurance cards or use a note-taking app on your phone.
3. Document what happened.
Write down every detail you can recall about the crash as soon as possible while it’s still fresh in your memory. It’s also a good idea to take photos or video recordings of the accident scene, skid marks on the road, and any visible injuries. If any eyewitnesses saw what happened, politely ask them for statements and their contact details if you need to follow up later.
4. Get medical treatment.
It’s always important to seek prompt medical attention after an accident, even if it doesn’t seem at first like you sustained any significant injuries. Not only will this establish medical documentation of your condition, but this will also help you make sure you don’t have any injuries that could worsen over time.
5. Keep all bills, receipts, invoices, and medical records.
If you plan to file a car accident claim, thorough documentation is crucial. Your medical records will be an important part of demonstrating the nature and extent of your injuries. And any bills, receipts, or invoices related to the accident can help you back up the value of your claim when you demand the compensation you are owed.
6. Follow your doctor’s treatment plan.
If you receive treatment for accident-related injuries, it’s crucial to follow your doctor’s orders. Adhering to your prescribed treatment plan will help you recover from your injuries as fully and quickly as possible. If you neglect to follow your doctor’s treatment plan, the insurance company may think your injuries aren’t as serious as you claim and try to reduce your compensation as a result.
7. Stay off social media.
If you’re used to sharing many aspects of your life on social media, it can be tempting to vent about a car accident to friends and family. However, keep in mind that your social media accounts are more public than you probably realize. Anything you post or share on social media may be accessed by insurance companies or lawyers and used to undermine your claim.
8. Notify your insurer.
Auto insurance policies typically require policyholders to report car accidents within a certain timeframe. If you fail to notify your insurer per your insurance contract, they could be legally entitled to deny you coverage. When you speak to your insurer, make sure to keep your statements brief and avoid sharing unnecessary details or admitting fault for the crash.
9. Contact a car accident attorney.
While it’s possible to file a car accident claim on your own, it’s nearly always in your best interest to contact a car accident attorney first. An experienced lawyer can evaluate the strength of your claim and determine how much you could be owed in compensation. An attorney can handle all of the complicated and time-consuming aspects of your case while you focus on your health and recovery.
Who Decides Fault in a Texas Car Accident Claim?
Determining fault is extremely important in a Texas car accident claim because at-fault drivers in Texas are financially responsible for any damages they cause. Three main parties typically decide who should be held accountable after a crash:
- Police officers – Law enforcement officials are usually the first to arrive at the scene of an accident. Police officers investigate accidents and record essential details in their reports, which also often contain official opinions regarding who was at fault for the crash. However, keep in mind that police do not have final say on civil fault for car accidents.
- Insurance companies – When you file a car accident insurance claim, the insurance company will typically assign an adjuster to investigate the crash. Adjusters analyze evidence from the accident, interview those involved, and hire experts to determine who they think should be held responsible.
- The courts – If you are not satisfied with the insurance adjuster’s decision, you have the right to take your claim to court. When you file a lawsuit, a judge or jury will be responsible for reviewing evidence, determining fault, and awarding compensation.
How Our Houston Car Accident Lawyers Can Help
At Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC, we provide exceptional customer service and personalized legal representation to car accident victims in Houston and surrounding areas of Texas. We will fight aggressively to seek the best possible result for your claim while ensuring your unique needs are addressed.
We handle cases with no upfront or out-of-pocket costs to you, so we’re available to take on your claim regardless of your current ability to pay. Our initial case reviews are free. Contact us today to discuss your situation with a qualified attorney.
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