You’re cruising on your morning commute when suddenly; a car appears out of nowhere and swerves right in front of you. You slam on your brakes and yank your steering wheel to the side but then you hear that sickening crunch as you’re jolted forward. Both vehicles come to a stop. You’re shaken and your heart is racing, and you’ve just been in an Auto Accident.
As skilled injury attorneys serving McAllen Texas, Brownsville Texas, and the surrounding areas, we see our share of auto accident victims. We think it’s important to occasionally remind the friends of our firm, what they should do when they are in an accident. This 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. Let’s pretend it just happened to you, and review our Do’s and Don’ts of after an Auto Accident.
1. 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.
2. 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.
Safety Tip: 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.
3. If anyone in either vehicle is injured, an ambulance should be called immediately. 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.
4. 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 apprehend them.
5. Whoever is able, should take pictures of the scene right away. Include 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 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.
6. 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, a malfunctioning 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 in your best interest.
1. Don’t speak to the other driver or any of the passengers in the other vehicle, unless it is to obtain their personal contact, license, tag, and insurance information. Speak only to the police officer who arrives on the scene.
2. Don’t agree to settle the dispute privately, chances are that you’ll regret this later. Our attorneys have seen time and time again; accident victims come to our law firm and wish to pursue a claim after the other party failed to cooperate or failed to pay them the amount of money on which they agreed.
3. Don’t make a recorded statement with an insurance company. From the scene or immediately after you leave the scene, you should contact your auto insurance company. The insurance representative will attempt to have you record a statement to wrap things up quickly. They want to document a binding record of events and injuries before you even know the whole story. Don’t let this happen to you. We have seen physical conditions develop days or even weeks after an accident.
You need to assess injuries and damages before you agree to anything, and the mental stress you are experiencing may affect your ability to give a proper statement of events.
4. Don’t sign any documents for the insurance company or accept any payments. You may not be aware your rights, and speaking to a personal 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.
Do: Check yourself for injuries.
Do: Scan the vehicle for any signs you may be in further danger.
Do: Call an ambulance if anyone in either vehicle is injured.
Do: Record the information from the other driver.
Do: Take pictures of the scene right away (whoever is able.)
Do: Take notes about what happened.
Don’t: Don’t speak to the other driver or any of the passengers in the other vehicle (unless it is to record the identifying information you need for insurance.)
Don’t: Don’t agree to settle the dispute privately.
Don’t: Don’t make a recorded statement with an insurance company.
Don’t: Don’t sign any documents for the insurance company or accept any payments.
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. Our McAllen injury attorneys welcome your questions at any time.