If you are involved in a car accident, the incident itself is bad enough. But you have to think about the many events that will follow. Many times, you are hurt and do not even know it until a few days later. A sudden impact forces your body to move in different directions in an instant. Whether you are in immediate pain or not, you have to protect yourself and your rights.
If you are able, the very first thing you should do is call 911. Next, if possible, exit your vehicle safely and begin figuring out what happened. Approach and assist the other driver and passengers if you can. Keep your cell phone in your hand and take pictures of everything that might be used later to investigate the accident and identify witnesses. Many times, witnesses will stop and then leave. Some will remain on the scene. Try to get names and a picture of each witness and their vehicles, including license plate numbers. If you do not have a cell phone with a camera, then try to write as much as you can on a notepad or a piece of paper. Do not move your vehicle unless instructed by law enforcement.
Ask the other driver for their driver’s license number and insurance information being careful to get the policy number and the name of the insurance company and phone number as well as the license plate number of their vehicle. If it is not a Texas driver’s license, ask in what state the license was issued. If the other vehicle has any markings on it, such a company name, be sure to photograph or write down that information. If the other driver is not cooperative, do not press the issue. The investigating police officer will get the information for you and provide you with a case number. It is extremely important not to lose this case number. You and your attorney will need it later.
If you have any doubt that you are injured as a result of the car wreck, ask for an ambulance. It’s better to be safe than sorry later. If you feel you are not injured, remain on the scene as long as you can. If you are able, get pictures of the actual roadway where the accident happened, including any landmarks that will help identify the location later. If there is a specific address where the car accident occurred, then record that as well. If you see any skid marks or gouge marks in the pavement or roadway as a result of the car accident, photograph these markings or describe them on a piece of paper as accurately as possible. The investigating police officer is supposed to document this information. However, depending on the training of the officer or other factors, there may be valuable information omitted from the officer’s notes or the report. This has happened many times before. It is sometimes very difficult to go back and reconstruct the cause of a car accident unless all the relevant information is known. It can make the difference between resolving accusations later as to who caused the accident.
After leaving the scene, call an attorney right away. The attorney can report the claim to your insurance company as well as the other driver’s insurance company and establish claim numbers. You can do this yourself, however, there are many reasons why an attorney should do it for you. The insurance companies will be recording you and taking down every word you say. Car accident insurance adjusters are trained at twisting your words and getting you to admit to things that are not true or misleading. By letting your attorney do this, you avoid that trap from the beginning. Eventually, the car accident insurance adjuster will request to take a recorded statement from you. However, by then you and your attorney will have had the opportunity to discuss the facts and be prepared for your recorded statement. This office requires the insurance adjuster to include the attorney in a 3-way conference recorded statement. Many claims are denied simply because of words initially stated to the insurance adjusters investigating the claim. Do not let this happen to you!
After the claims are set up, there are many decisions to make with regard to your medical treatment and your property damage. Most likely there will be an adjuster for bodily injuries and another one for the property damages. If you do not have health insurance, your attorney can request a doctor to treat you with an understanding that they will be paid for their services later when your car wreck claim is resolved. This will be very difficult or almost impossible to do without an attorney. If you have health insurance, the policy may provide for only a very limited amount of physical therapy or chiropractic care. In that case, your attorney can still set up a plan with a treating physician. In this manner, you get the treatment you deserve and get well much sooner than if you do nothing. Many times an injury is serious and you may not know it. A herniated disk may not be very apparent until you physically exert yourself at home or at work. The longer you wait to see a doctor, the more difficult it becomes to convince a car accident insurance adjuster and perhaps a jury that the other driver in the car accident was in fact the one who caused your injuries. If you are seriously injured, have a family member contact a car accident attorney as soon as practically possible. In the long run, you will be glad you did. The key is to gather and preserve all evidence relating to your car accident. “Documentation is the name of the game”.
We hope you never have to suffer the experience of going through a car accident. Since a car wreck is one of those rare things that can happen in your life, it is so easy to make the wrong decisions, potentially resulting in an unfair settlement or possibly not receiving any compensation for your damages at all. If you are in a car wreck, contact our Law Office. An attorney will guide you through every step of the process and document the evidence so that you are treated fairly and with respect.