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Car accidents, even minor ones, are traumatic. In the blink of an eye, they can turn your world upside down. In the immediate aftermath, there may be broken glass and smoke, and you may have suffered serious injuries.
Even if you are not injured, you are likely to be shaken and disorientated.
However, what you do in the moments following an auto accident can significantly impact your health as well as your ability to file a claim for compensation if the accident was caused by the negligent or reckless actions of another driver.
Car accidents are varied in nature – and the steps you take will depend largely on your condition after the accident.
In some motor vehicle accidents in Houston, victims of injuries can walk away unaided. In others, they may be left unconscious, incapacitated, in shock, or worse.
The following are not hard and fast rules but are suggestions depending upon the condition of the victim(s):
After a car crash, whatever condition you are in (even if you can walk or drive away), remain at the scene of the accident until the first responders and police arrive.
It is illegal to leave the scene of an accident and you may be charged if you do so. Besides, first responders will be able to check for injuries and police will be able to start gathering the evidence they need for their reports – and which you will need for a successful compensation claim.
If you are in a condition to do so, check on the other individuals involved in the accident. Even if you are not hurt, other passengers or drivers may require emergency assistance.
If you are involved in an auto accident in Houston, you must call 911.
The police will visit the scene and offer assistance if necessary. It’s a good idea to identify the attending officers by getting their names and badge numbers.
The police will check the other motorists involved in the accident to determine if drugs or alcohol played a role.
A police report will be filed and you will need this for the claims process later on.
For insurance purposes, you must exchange information with any other drivers involved in the accident.
This includes gathering names, addresses, contact details, license plate numbers, and insurance details.
If your car is damaged, take pictures of it – and any other vehicles involved in the accident. Also, take pictures of any other relevant details such as tire marks on the road or road signage.
Most people can do this relatively easily using their smartphones.
If you are able to do so, get the contact details of anyone who witnessed the accident, as this could aid your claim later on.
If possible, write down notes of any pertinent details, such as the weather conditions, lighting, the behavior of other drivers, and so on.
Once you leave the scene of the accident having performed all the above steps, consider going to a hospital for a medical checkup.
Even if you don’t feel badly injured, it’s important to see a doctor if you suffered a serious accident, as you may have injuries that develop later.
After you have completed a medical check, the priority should be to assess your legal position in regard to the accident.
If you suffered an injury and the accident was due to the negligence or recklessness of another driver, consider hiring a car accident attorney to file a claim to recover losses.
After a car accident, people commonly make decisions that will negatively affect their claim later on if legal action is pursued.
Some examples of what NOT to do after an accident include:
Resist the temptation to comment or say too much at the scene – and never admit any fault. If a partial admission of fault is included in accident reports, it can damage your compensation claim.
After an accident, everyone is shocked and emotional. Try to keep calm and do not point the finger of blame at other drivers. Just acknowledge the situation and follow the steps outlined above.
If you leave the scene of an accident without informing the police, you may be charged with a criminal offense in Texas.
Even if you don’t look or feel injured, you may have physical, emotional, or psychological injuries that develop later.
Shock is common after an accident. Let a professional medic decide whether you are fit and healthy or not.
Find out the precise costs of towing and where your vehicle will be taken to before allowing a wrecker to tow your vehicle away.
If you agree to the tow service, get the name, address, and telephone number of the driver and the towing company so that you know where your car will be.
Insurance companies sometimes push for a quick settlement with an accident victim, who may be pressured by rising medical bills.
Do not accept an offer from the insurance company without checking first with a personal injury lawyer. On most occasions, you will be entitled to more than you are offered. Ideally, let your lawyer handle all communications with the insurer.
In Texas, if a car accident was at least 50 percent the fault of another party, you may be able to sue for the following damages.
If your car is not roadworthy after an accident, you may be entitled to a rental car either through your insurer or through the insurance company of the at-fault party.
Most people in Texas rely on their cars to get around. A rental car can ease your situation while your car is in the repair shop. If your car is a total write-off, a rental vehicle can be provided until you receive an acceptable offer from the insurance company to purchase a new car.
If you must pay out of your own pocket for the rental, keep the receipts and claim reimbursement after the at-fault party is confirmed. Your lawyer can help with this.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident in the Houston area, following the above steps after an accident can help you get compensation.
Whether a negligent or reckless driver was partly or wholly to blame for the accident, Ryan A. DeHoyos will work tirelessly to help you claim what you are due if you have suffered an injury in Houston.
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“I can’t say enough good things about DeHoyos Accident Attorneys! Mr. Ryan DeHoyos is extremely knowledgeable in his field of Personal Injury. I was injured in a motor vehicle accident last year and Mr. DeHoyos stopped at nothing to get me the compensation I deserved. He kept me updated on my case regularly and guided me to get the medical care I needed. Additionally, his staff is so kind and caring, especially Ashley… Thank you, DeHoyos Accident Attorneys for your professionalism in closing my case…and WINNING big!”