Suddenly a car appears out of nowhere, and it is heading straight for you. You swerve and slam on your brakes and then there is a sickening crashing sound. Both vehicles come to a stop. You are shaken and your heart is racing. What you do now?
First, check yourself for injuries and make sure you are not bleeding anywhere. If you are, try to wrap or cover the bleeding area immediately. If you have passengers in the vehicle with you, you should check them for injuries as well. Quickly scan the vehicle for any dangerous signs like sparks, flames or leaking liquids. You may need to exit the vehicle very quickly. If you cannot open a door try the other doors or get a window down. It is wise to keep something in your car that you can break a window with should you ever be unable to get a window down.
As skilled injury attorneys serving McAllen Texas, Pigeon Forge and Knoxville, we see our share of auto accident victims. And it’s important to occasionally remind the friends of our firm that what they do when they are in an accident directly affects the outcome of their insurance claim and potential lawsuit. You not only need to know what steps to take for safety and for your own well-being, but also what steps to take to improve your chances of a successful insurance claim.
We of course hope that you will never be in an automobile accident. But motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, car and scooter crashes and SUV rollovers unfortunately happen every day.
If anyone in either vehicle is injured, an ambulance should be called immediately. And no matter how small the damages to your car(s), the police should be called also. The police report is necessary if you are going to pursue any claim. Pain and injuries can show up a day or even several days after an accident.
Immediately record the information from the other driver — their name, license tag number, address and insurance company. If they flee the scene, call the police immediately and the police will attempt to capture them.
Whoever is able should take pictures right away of the scene—the position of all the vehicles and any debris or items around you that could have contributed to or affected the outcome of the accident. Do not move your vehicle and ask the other parties not to move their vehicle either, unless of course your accident was simply a very light fender bender, or if your vehicle is posing a hazard to other drivers.
If you are injured and unable to stand up/move around and take pictures, ask a bystander or spectator if they would take pictures for you. It is important that you do not speak to the other driver or any of the passengers in the other vehicle. Speak only to the police officer who arrives on the scene. If you are capable, immediately take notes about what happened. Estimate the speeds of both vehicles and note any conditions or situations at the scene of the accident such as debris on the road, and inoperable traffic light, a speeding driver, construction, etc. Anything you can think of should be noted. Insignificant details can become important later. When the police speak to you, be honest and forthcoming. It is to your best interest.
Never agree to settle the dispute privately, as you will regret this later. Our attorneys have seen time and time again when accident victims come to our law firm and wish to pursue a claim after the other party failed to cooperate and failed to pay them the amount that they verbally agreed to. This is why reporting the accident to the police and speaking to legal counsel is important. It helps to ensure that everything is handled properly and that you receive what should rightfully come to you.
From the scene or immediately after you leave the scene, you should contact your auto insurance company. Our attorneys advise that you do not make a recorded statement. It is simply too soon. You need to assess injuries and damages before you agree to anything. The insurance representative will attempt to have you record a statement and they try to wrap things up quickly, before you know what you are doing. Don’t let this happen to you. We have seen physical conditions develop days or even weeks after an accident.
We advise you not to sign any documents for the insurance company — do not accept any payments. You have legal rights that you may be unaware of, and speaking to a scheduled injury attorney can help your case.
In the weeks and months after the accident, keep all receipts and record all activity pertaining to the accident. Make sure you keep all of your medical records and all paperwork from every doctor visit or other practitioner visits such as chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, MRIs, etc.
To summarize: don’t move your vehicles, don’t talk to the other driver, don’t say anything to anyone around the accident scene except the police when they arrived. Always wear your seat belts and always keep your auto insurance paid and up to date. It is extremely wise to carry uninsured motorist coverage because many accidents happen with the other driver had no or insufficient coverage. As your car accident attorney, McAllen, the Tijerina Legal Firm welcomes your questions anytime.