Houston Car Accident Lawyer

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Were You Injured in an Auto Accident in Houston?

If you drive in Houston, the odds are you have been or will be involved in a car accident.  Having an injury attorney on your side can be the difference between winning and losing your case. Additionally, an attorney can help make your road to recovery easier by investigating all the details, talking to adjusters, and answering questions. Simmons & Flether have been handling car accident claims since 1979. We offer free consultations 7 days a week. If you decide to hire us you pay nothing upfront, and you pay nothing if we do not win your case.

How Can a Car Accident Attorney Help Me?

If you were involved in an auto accident and suffered injuries or property damage, you cannot leave it up to the other party or their insurance company to compensate you. Sadly, many people wait to talk to an attorney until after they have attempted to handle the case on their own with a friendly insurance adjuster who promised they would take full responsibility. These same adjusters often return with an offer that doesn’t even begin to cover your out-of-pocket expenses and may stop returning your emails and calls when you do not sign your rights away.

These tactics cause you to delay in collecting and preserving critical evidence you should have gathered from the start. Even worse, they cause you to delay in getting the medical care you need. The absence of evidence and the delays are then used against you to justify a low-ball offer when it comes time to settle the case. This is why you should get a local attorney involved right away, especially when you have sustained injuries.

Having an attorney for your car accident claim makes all the difference when dealing with the insurance claims process. The moment the adjuster realizes they are speaking to an experienced attorney is the moment they take the claim seriously. A few more points on what to expect when you hire an attorney below.

  • get the medical care you need,
  • cut through the red tape and file the right insurance claims under the right policy sections,
  • pursue compensation for all of your losses,
  • locate the responsible parties,
  • fully investigate the causes of the wreck,
  • prove liability,
  • prepare and draft an effective demand letter,
  • negotiate and work to maximize a settlement,
  • negotiate medical liens, and if necessary,
  •  take the case to trial.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer in Houston?

How much an attorney will cost to handle your case depends upon the fee agreement you sign with your attorney.  Many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis.  However, some still charge by the hour for their services.  Both of these scenarios are discussed below.

Contingency Basis

Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., like many injury law firms, work on a contingency basis. This means that the attorneys will work on your case without charging you anything until you collect a settlement. When a settlement is reached, the law firm will take a percentage of the total settlement as their fee in addition to being reimbursed for the expenses they outlay to prosecute the case.

Contingency fee rates vary and can be negotiated based on the difficulty of the case. Typical contingency fees fall between 25 and 40 percent of your total claim. Therefore, a settlement of $75,000 with a contingency arrangement of 33.33% will result in a fee of $24,997.50 for the law firm and $50,002.5 to cover your damages.

Some agreements call for a lower contingency rate if the parties settle out of court and a higher fee if the case goes to trial. Make sure you fully understand the contingency arrangement before you settle your case. In some cases, your attorney will argue for increased damages in order to cover your legal fees.

Hourly Fee Agreements

Some law firms may charge you an hourly rate to handle your case. This rate generally covers the cost of  time and any administrative staff that assist on your case. Court fees and filings may be charged separately. Depending on the complexity of the case, these arrangements can work out to a greater total cost or a lesser total cost to you.  The difference is that you have to pay your attorney his fees and reimburse his expenses as you go.  Additionally, the risk of loss is on you when you pay as you go.  Thus, even if their is no recovery in the case, you are still out-of-pocket for the legal costs of bringing the claim.  This a a cost many people who are injured and out of work simply cannot afford up front and a risk of loss they cannot afford to assume.

What is My Car Accident Claim Worth?

How is the Value of an Auto Accident Claim Determined in Texas? There is no exact formula for determining the amount of a car accident settlement in Texas. Each accident has unique circumstances that will impact the amount of a claim. As a fault insurance state, the laws in Texas allow an injured person to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance. Furthermore, Texas law requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance coverage. However, the presence of insurance coverage does not mean a person will recover the maximum settlement allowed by the policy. Factors that contribute to a settlement amount include:

  • The severity of a person’s injuries, including scaring, disfigurement, pain, and emotional duress
  • The cost of necessary medical expenses and predictable future medical expenses
  • The amount of property damage
  • The amount of lost wages and lost earning capacity
  • How much you contributed to the cause of the accident
  • Your lawyer’s ability to present evidence and argue your case.

You should consult a qualified attorney in houston to determine the anticipated value of your claim.

 

How Much Do You Get for Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident?

Contrary to what some websites try to tell you, there is no set formula that insurance companies use to determine the value of a person’s pain and suffering. In fact, insurance companies do not always offer compensation for pain and suffering. To add insult to injury, sometimes they even offer less than the amount of the medical bills for injuries like whiplash or soft tissue pain.

The amount of pain and suffering you can recover depends largely on the severity of your injuries and how they might impact your life in the future. But it also depends upon how your injuries are presented to the adjuster and/or a jury. Documenting your condition as well as demonstrating that your injuries are likely to be long-lasting versus a temporary condition can increase the amount you receive for pain and suffering. An experienced attorney can help you present your injuries in the light most favorable to you in order to maximize your recovery.

How Does the Insurance Claims Process Work?

Dealing with the insurance company on your own carries many risks. Insurance adjusters must look out for the best interest of the company’s shareholders and may try to convince you to minimize your injuries and property damage in order to get a quick settlement. Some of the most adversarial adjusters may even try to wait you out by not responding to your phone calls or email.

A knowledgeable professional can help you navigate the claims process effectively and save you time and frustration. However, for minor accidents with minimal injuries, it’s important to know how the claims process works. The info-graphic below illustrates the cycle of a typical car accident insurance claim.

As you can see from the information on this page there are a number of risks you take by not having a law firm on your side to explain all of the consequences of your actions and the decisions the insurance adjuster may push you to make.

car accident claim infographic

Texas Auto Insurance

Title 7 of the Texas Transportation Code sets minimum coverage amounts for Texas drivers. Under this law, insurance must cover $30,000 for injury to one person in an accident, with a total of $60,000 for two or more people injured. It must also provide $25,000 for damage or destruction of property.

While Texas law requires this level of insurance, there are many circumstances where this insurance would be insufficient. For instance, hospital bills for severe injuries can easily add up to $75,000 or more, or a car accident may cause damage to several vehicles or buildings that exceed the $25,000 minimum. Still other accidents may involve drivers without insurance at all. For this reason, we recommend additional coverage for any driver who can manage it.  Supplemental insurance should include under insured motorist coverage and collision coverage.

It is important to remember that liability insurance only covers the other party’s injuries and property damage. If you are at fault for the accident and are also injured, your liability coverage will not compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, or damage to your car. Supplemental insurance policies include:

  • Collision Insurance – this policy will cover the cost to repair your car if you cause an accident
  • Uninsured/Under-insured Motorist Insurance – this policy covers your injuries and property damage when you are involved in an accident that was caused by a driver without insurance or whose insurance did not cover all of your damages.
  • Comprehensive Insurance – this policy covers the cost to repair or replace your car if it is stolen or damaged by weather, fire, or other incidents not included in collision insurance.
  • Medical Coverage Insurance – this policy will cover medical and/or funeral expenses incurred from an auto accident regardless of fault. If you collect from an insurance claim against the at-fault party, you must reimburse your medical insurance coverage company.

Abuse by Insurance Companies in Texas

Sometimes, even when you or other people involved in the accident have appropriate insurance coverage, you may find the insurance company won’t properly resolve claims. This insurance abuse takes many forms, including:

  • Making slow, late or incorrect payments
  • Denying valid claims
  • Canceling valid policies or refusing renewals
  • Denying of necessary medical treatment
  • Withholding information about policy coverage

These tactics are unethical and often illegal. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) sets strict standard for insurance companies that protect consumers and accident victims. If you believe an insurance company has treated you unfairly, you can file a formal complaint with the TDI.

Secrets of Handling a Car Accident Claim

Before you try to handle a car accident claim on your own, below are some important considerations you should be aware of:

Insurance Companies Don’t Want to Help You

Insurance adjusters typically will not help you find an affordable doctor that will treat you without expecting payment up front. They know that if you have no help, you won’t be able to seek the care you need. They also know that delays and gaps in care make juries second guess whether you were really hurt. Thus, stalling your case is in their best interest and saves them money in the long run.

Don’t Believe Anything the Insurance Adjuster Says

When an adjuster tells you “we take full responsibility,” it does not mean they will pay all of your medical bills and compensate you fairly for other losses from your car accident. Liability is rarely the big fight. Insurance adjusters know that just because their client is liable for causing the accident, doesn’t mean they must pay for all of the medical care you receive. Texas law only requires them to pay for “reasonable and necessary” medical care that is caused by the collision. If you fail to seek medical care promptly or you seek alternative medicine instead of medical care that conforms with accepted medical care guidelines, defendants can use your actions or omissions against you to convince a jury to not award you all of your bills. Your best course of action is to seek prompt, appropriate care if you have been injured.

Property Damage and Injury Claims Are Completely Separate

Payment of property damage to your vehicle is not an admission of liability for your personal injuries suffered in an accident. Don’t be fooled into thinking an insurance adjuster is going to treat you fair on your personal injury claim just because they promptly paid for the damage to your car. Paying for property damage before denying an injury claim is a common tactic used to try to prevent a jury from ever seeing photos of the property damage. When your case goes to trial, you are typically not even allowed to tell the jury that the insurance company paid for the property damage their insured caused.

Never Consent to a Recorded Statement

Recorded statements can be used against you. Your own company’s insurance adjuster or the other parties involved may use recorded statements to deny your claim or trick you into settling your claim before you know all of the long-term effects associated with your injuries. Do not ever give a recorded without having an attorney who represents you present.

What Cannot Be Used as Evidence in Civil Court

Juries do not get to see the whole picture. In a civil court of law, much of the police report must be marked out so the jury cannot see it. Evidence of the other driver’s insurance coverage is generally not admissible in evidence.

You Need to File a Lawsuit to Find Out Insurance Coverage

Insurance companies do not have to tell you how much insurance coverage their insured has unless you file a lawsuit and force them to do it. Thus, if your damages are likely to exceed $30,000 (the minimum limits required), you may need to file a lawsuit to find out how much coverage there really is.

Your Car Accident Settlement May Be Taken By Your Health Insurance Company

You may have an obligation to pay back your health insurance company out of any settlement or judgment. If you have health insurance, the policy usually contains what is known as a “subrogation clause.” In plain language, this means that both you and the car insurance company may have an obligation to reimburse your health insurance company out of your settlement. The insurance adjuster does not have to tell you before you accept a settlement offer that a chunk of that offer must be paid directly by the auto liability insurer to your health insurer, leaving you with little or nothing. See: Do I have to pay my health insurance company back out of my settlement?

Never Sign a Release Without Legal Counsel

When you sign a Release, it is legally binding. When an insurance adjuster offers you a settlement in exchange for signing a release, you are giving up all of your rights specified in the release for injuries you know of now, as well as those you discover in the future. Don’t sign a property damage release until you are sure they have covered all of the damage and you have verified that your bodily injury claim is not incorporated in the release. It is best to have a lawyer review all releases before you sign so that you completely understand what you are giving up.

Dealing with Insurance Adjusters Without an Attorney

While we urge you to hire a local houston car accident attorney to deal with the insurance adjuster for you, here are some helpful tips if you choose to deal with them on your own:

  1. Don’t delay. Don’t wait to get medical attention or a quote for car repairs. Long delays can negatively impact your case and make adjusters less likely to take your claim seriously. If you suspect an injury, go to a doctor immediately and get documentation of the costs you incurred and any diagnosis or treatment plans. Get a detailed quote for a reputable auto shop to repair your car.
  2. Get a Free Consultation. Even if you choose not to hire a law firm, the advice you receive during a free consultation can get you started in the right direction and prepare you for the process ahead.
  3. Avoid hostility. This can be trickier than it sounds. If you’re trying to deal with an insurance adjuster, chances are you’re injured, and worried about how to pay medical bills and get your car fixed. You may be unable to work or without insurance coverage to help get you on your feet. Playing polite may seem impossible, but anger and threats will not move your case forward. Even if the adjuster seems rude or callous, try to remain calm and professional.
  4. Be prepared. Insurance adjusters answer to shareholders who want to maximize profits and keep payouts low. The adjuster’s low settlement offer isn’t a personal insult. Be prepared to decline an unfair offer and offer evidence for why a larger settlement is necessary.
  5. Remember that settlements are forever. Once you sign a settlement offer and accept the check, it’s too late to hire a  to get more money. Make sure the settlement covers your current and future damages. If you cannot return to work for some time because of your injury or require ongoing medical treatment, make sure your settlement covers for those expenses.

What Damages Can My Car Accident Lawyer Recover?

Texas personal injury law allows for the recovery of many kinds of damages. If you have suffered injuries due to an auto collision, you are entitled to assert a claim for the following damages:

  • Lost wages & lost wage earning capacity
  • Pain & suffering
  • Mental anguish and/or emotional distress
  • Medical expenses
  • Scarring & disfigurement

Spouses have the ability to assert claims for the following:

  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of household services
  • Loss of spousal support
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Wrongful death

Can My Car Accident Attorney Still Help If I Am at Fault for The Collision?

Many of the car wreck cases that wind up in the court systems are not fighting over who is at fault. Those cases are often fighting over what injuries were caused by the wreck and what is fair compensation amount. If you think you have a simple case and are contemplating going at it without an attorney in order to save money, you should read this first:

Who is at Fault in a Rear-End Accident in Texas?

Contrary to popular belief, there is not automatic liability even in a rear-end accident.

 

A Guide To Understanding Car Accidents

Disclaimer: This Guide is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as legal advice. It is based upon laws applicable in the State of Texas. No guide is a substitution for the legal advice of a qualified car accident attorney. No attorney-client contract is created by the use and/or reliance upon this guide. Click the link below for a downloadable pdf of this guide:

Accident Guide Pdf

 

Types of Losses From a Car Accident

Car accidents occur at an alarming rate and each car accident is different. Accidents can vary depending on whether the accident is minor or major, the type of injuries each party sustains, who caused the accident, what state the accident happened in, and even a variety of different losses.

Determining the amount of loss in a car accident first requires identifying the type of loss. There are generally two types of losses when dealing with car accidents: “pecuniary damages” and “non-pecuniary damages.”

What are Pecuniary Damages?

Pecuniary damages are another way to describe a monetary loss that can be calculated or estimated with some form of certainty. In other words, pecuniary damages are losses that can be estimated or proven by a receipt. A few examples of such pecuniary losses that one may suffer as a result of a motor vehicle accident are as follows:

  • Vehicle repair or replacement costs and loss of use
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages and/or lost wage earning capacity
  • Special damages or out-of-pocket expenditures used before a trial

What are Non-Pecuniary Damages?

Non-pecuniary damages are damages that cannot be readily calculated in monetary terms. In other words, non-pecuniary damages are losses that cannot be estimated or calculated through a receipt. Examples of such non-pecuniary losses that may be suffered as a result of a motor vehicle accident are as follows:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life activities
  • Loss of consortium or the loss of feeling love from a spouse or child
  • Scarring or disfigurement
  • Physical impairment
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of household services

In the case of a wrongful death claim,  funeral expenses  may be recovered by the legal heirs and/or representative of the estate in addition to the above damages.

If you have any questions regarding what types of damages you may be entitled to, it may be helpful to contact a car wreck lawyer.  They will know the laws regarding the type of loss and inform you of your possible rights to recovery.

Evaluating Personal Injury in Car Accident Cases

If you have been involved in a car accident, every action you take can play a major role in a personal injury claim with your insurance company or even in the court of law. There are several things you should considering doing after an accident to protect your rights. The following are things you should consider:

File a Police Report and Register the Accident with DMV

No matter whether the car accident is a minor fender-bender or a major car accident, it is important to contact the police to file a police report, and to report the accident to your local DMV. Some states and insurance companies may require you to file these documents. Furthermore, insurance companies rely on these documents when determining fault and the amount of compensation for injuries. If you do not get a police report, you are relying on the other driver to be honest about how the wreck happened when he reports it to his own insurance company. If he is not, your claim could be wrongfully denied.

If You Have Any Pain after an Accident, Seek Medical Attention Immediately

Seek immediate medical attention, especially if you have any sort of injury or lasting effect as a result of car accident. This is very important because insurance providers rely on this information when determining damages and will use it against you if you fail to get the proper care you need. Furthermore, most people think that people who are hurt will seek immediate care. Your failure to do so could leave you trying to explain why you failed to act in the normal manner.

Document Everything

documenting a car accidentAfter a car accident, you may experience a flood of emotions. You may be scared, upset, confused, and you may have sustained an injury. Because of the rush of emotions, it can be difficult to remember every aspect relating to the car accident. Some car accident victims continue to have these emotions long after the accident is over.

Despite the emotions, it is important to try to document everything. It will be helpful not only for the police and medical providers, but also for your attorney should one be required. The following are categories that should be documented:

The Actual Car Accident Scene

It is important to document every aspect you can possibly remember about the accident. Creating a written document of the accident will create a record for you to review later. Do not show it to anyone else. This is just for your use. If possible, attempt to document the following regarding the accident:

  • The time, date, location, and weather conditions
  • The condition of the road, including g number of lanes and markings
  • The names of all of the parties involved in the accident
  • What the other driver did to cause the collision.

Doctor Visits & Medical Care

Keeping records of any and all doctor visits can be very helpful to you or your attorney if litigation follows the accident. Be sure to discuss all discomforts you are having no matter how minor they may seem at the time. Minor pains can be a sign of something more serious. If possible, try to keep a record of the following:

  • All dates, times, and names of any doctor visits
  • The reason for each doctor visit
  • Any possible diagnosis, recommendation, or outcome of each doctor visit including prescribing drugs or physical therapy
  • All medical bills pertaining to the visits

Physical Therapy

If a specific doctor suggests or prescribes physical therapy as a result of an injury from a car accident, should follow through on all of it and keep a record of it. If you do not actively follow a doctor’s orders or do not attempt to rehabilitate yourself, it is possible that you will not be able to recover for your losses fully, based on a legal phrase called “failure to mitigation of damages.” Attempt to keep records of the following regarding physical therapy:

  • All dates, times, and names of any physical therapist visit
  • Whether you attended each session and the difficulty or progress you make
  • The exercises you performed during each visit
  • Any type of stretching, massage, heat pads, or ice that accompany each visit
  • Any type of home exercises the physical therapist assigns for you
  • All bills pertaining to physical therapy.

First Steps to Follow after Sustaining an Injury in a Car Accident

Being in a car accident can be scary, no matter the severity. It is common that people “lose their cool” after a car accident due to shock. The first thing to remember is to remain calm after you have been involved in a car accident.

Step 1: Seek Medical Attention

If you have been involved in a car accident, speak with a physician as soon as possible. Even if you are involved in a minor accident, if you are feeling any pain let the physician know the details of the accident, and she or he will decide the correct course of action.

If you experience any discomfort, dizziness, or numbness after a car accident, seek medical attention immediately, as it may be a serious condition.

The more time you allow to pass without addressing your injuries, whether it is a day, week, month, or months, the harder it will be to get your bills covered because insurance companies arbitrarily use delay in care as an excuse to deny payment. For help in getting the medical care you need, read: Obtaining the Medical Care You Need After a Car Accident.

Step 2: Take Photos of Injuries

Many people forget this step. It is very important to take pictures of any injury you sustain. Injuries can include damage to property, such as your vehicle or the contents of your vehicle.

It is also very important to take photographs of any bumps, bruises, cuts, and scrapes, and, if the injury is serious, ask your doctor or physical therapist to photograph your road to recovery. This will provide evidence of non-pecuniary damages that can be used to prove your case to the insurance company, Judge, and juries.

Step 3: Ask For Help

When dealing with personal injuries after a car accident, everyday activities can become depressingly frustrating. Things as simple as getting dressed, doing laundry, or cooking food can become very difficult tasks. To reduce the possibility of becoming depressed, ask a friend or family member if they can help.

Step 4: Keep all of your Medical Records in One Place

When dealing with personal injuries as a result of a car accident, paperwork can pile up quickly. There are medical bills, appointments, different doctors, prescriptions, photographs, accident reports, and much more. There are two benefits from keeping all of your documents organized in one place: (1) It creates a clear record for you and your attorney to refer to when filing a lawsuit; and (2) It will reduce your stress.

If you can keep every single document, photograph, report, and the like in a single organized manner, it can reduce the time and cost of litigation. All of the information will already be gathered for your attorney, which will help reduce the number of disputes between you and the other party.

Step 5: Contact a Car Accident Lawyer

Dealing with an injury after an automobile accident can be scary, frustrating, upsetting, and confusing. In order to reduce some of these emotions and to maximize the possibility of recovery, contact a local houston accident Lawyer. Who will be able to explain any questions you may have and be able to ease any concerns.

A attorney will also be able to protect your rights along with providing you with the best opportunity to fully recover any damages you sustained as a result of a car accident.

What Not to Do After a Car Accident

It is very important to stay calm after a car accident. Your snap decisions and actions after a wreck can lead to both medical and legal misfortunes.

Don’t Give in to Pressure

Although it may not seem necessary, be sure to contact the police and file a report and exchange insurance with the other driver.

Also, if another party is pressuring you into signing any forms, do not give in. This may release the other party from liability, which may bar you from recovery. Instead, give any documents to your attorney, who will instruct you on what to do.

Do not speak about any pending claim with any party unless your attorney advises you otherwise.

If you feel overly stressed or are confused about the potential steps of filing an insurance claim or lawsuit, consider contacting an attorney.

An attorney will be able to assist you in any type of action you may want to pursue, and provide a sense of composure and understanding throughout your ordeal.

When to Seek Medical Attention for Personal Injuries

After a car accident, you may be in shock, and not notice any pain or discomfort. Even if you think you are o.k., you should still consider contacting a physician to get checked out. Sometimes, once the feeling of shock has diminished, you will feel the injury, and by then, it may be too late.

When is it Necessary to Seek Medical Attention?

It cannot be stressed enough; you should always seek medical attention after you have been involved in a car accident – at least to get checked out. You may experience pain and discomfort days or weeks after a car accident, and that kind of delay in care may affect your medical and legal options.

The following injuries are injuries which require immediate medical attention:

  • Pain or discomfort
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Numbness or tingling in any extremities
  • Stiffness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Vaginal bleeding in pregnant women

Why is it Important to Seek Immediate Medical Attention?

Some injuries take time to reveal their serious nature. Sometimes a secondary minor injury can be the symptom of something more serious. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Furthermore, seeking medical attention can provide proof of your injuries. During litigation, it can be argued that injuries were caused by some incident other than the car accident. It can also be argued that your injuries worsened do to your failure to seek medical help.

Whether you choose to seek immediate medical attention after a car accident or not, remember to take photographs and take detailed notes of any pain you experience. Your photographs and detailed notes will provide evidence and aide any insurance companies or attorneys in future litigation.

Injuries to Pregnant Women, Elderly, and Children

Although it is recommended that you seek immediate medical attention after a car accident, there is a specific group of people who should absolutely seek immediate help after being involved in a car accident: pregnant women, elderly individuals, and children.

  • Pregnant Women: Pregnant women should seek immediate medical attention after being involved in a car accident. This is to ensure the health of both the women and the unborn children.
  • Elderly Individuals: Elderly individuals should seek medical attention after an accident, as they may have conditions that may become aggravated as a result of the car accident.
  • Children: Child can be seriously injured in car wrecks. If your child has been involved in a car accident, no matter how minor, it is your responsibility to have your child checked out by a physician to ensure their health.

Filing an Accident Report with the Police

Filing a police report is an essential element after you have been involved in a car accident. At the very least, filing a police report creates a record of the accident for your insurance and will be helpful in determining fault any future litigation.

Why Should I File a Police Report After an Accident?

There are many reasons to file a police report after you are involved in a car accident. No matter how minor the car accident, a report should be filed for the following reasons:

  • A police report will create a record for your insurance company and future litigation
  • It will create a record of the events of the accident
  • A police report may provide evidence that speeds up or eliminates the need to litigate a matter
  • A police report makes the insurance claims process more efficient, which may speed up your claim payout through your insurance provider
  • The police will gather the other party’s information for you

What if the Police do not come to the Scene of the Accident?

Although rare, sometimes the police will not come to the scene of the accident after they have been called. If the weather conditions are too hazardous or there is no damage to property or individuals, the police may not show up.

If this is the case, you should go to the police department to physically file a police report. This option may be available online as well.

You should also file a report with your local DMV. Depending on your state’s law, you may be required to file an accident report with your local DMV.

What Information Should Be Included in a Report?

Whether you make your police report at the scene of the accident or at the police station, try to be as specific as possible. Take notes and photographs of the scene of the accident, including those of the vehicles, parties, and weather conditions, if post-accident circumstances allow. Afterward you or your attorney can request a copy of the accident report. The crash report will contain many sections where the offices simply writes in a letter or number. This part will not make sense unless you have a copy of the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report Codes.  Follow the link for a downloadable pdf of the codes.

If the car accident scene safely allows, the following is a list of information you should try to obtain:

  • Names of all parties involved (including address, phone number and driver’s license number)
  • Name of all parties’ insurance carriers (including address and phone number)
  • A specific and descriptive account of what happened
  • Names of witnesses
  • Damage to both vehicles
  • Any physical injuries to you or passengers
  • License plate numbers of all cars involved

Remember to Ask the Police Officer for a Card

The police report you make after the car accident will be available to you upon request. Make sure to ask a police officer on the scene for a card in order to contact him or her to obtain your police report.

Post-Accident Recording Checklist

The very first thing to remember after you are involved is to remain calm. Your actions after a car accident can have positive or negative ramifications. They can reduce injury, be helpful to police and insurance providers, and quite possibly save someone’s life.

The following is a list of ideas you can employ in order to be more prepared in the unfortunate event that you are involved in a car accident.

Before an Accident

The best way to be prepared in the event you are in a car accident is to take preventative steps beforehand. These tips can help:

  • First, download our car accident checklist and keep it available to you in the car in the event you are involved in a car accident.
  • Be sure to have a camera or smartphone and a pad of paper and a pen in order to photograph and take copious notes of the scene of the accident

What Should I do Right After a Car Accident?

Directly After an Accident

From property damage to insurance cards, documenting each aspect of the initial accident can help ensure you are fully protected. Storing the information in your phone can be beneficial since little things like cards and written notes can be lost easily in the wake of a car accident. Additionally, you should just down in the notes section of your phone the name, address and phone number of any eyewitnesses.

The most important factor after an accident is your safety. Be sure that you are in a safe area away from the car accident and then assess the situation from a distance – although do not flee from the scene.

After you have moved to a safer location, there are other steps you should take in assessing the post-car accident situation:

  • Quickly determine if you or anyone else is injured
    • If you are involved in an automobile accident you need to assess all injuries and determine if an ambulance is required. Often, individuals experience a rush of adrenaline after a car accident and do not feel their injuries until time has passed. Remaining safe after a car accident is the most important thing, so any injuries sustained should be examined by a medical professional as soon as possible.
  • Call the police & Request an Accident Report
    • Always call the police when an accident occurs. Regardless of the severity, be sure to request an accident report. This helps ensure no facts about the accident can be skewed. There are some habitual bad drivers who use fake insurance information and may change their story after the accident. This is just one step you can take to protect yourself from this kind of negligence.
  • Follow instructions the police tell you over the phone or in person
    • Law enforcement officers are trained for situations like car accidents. They will inform you on what you should do over the phone or when they arrive on scene.
  • Photograph & Document Everything
    • Take photos of everything involved in the car accident.  One of the great aspect of smart phones if having a quick convenient way to document things at your fingertips. Use your phone to take pictures of the following:
      • The vehicles
      • The defendant
      • The other driver’s insurance card and driver’s license
      • The police officer’s name and badge number
      • License plates
      • Business cards of the tow truck driver, witnesses, etc.
  • Call your insurance provide
    • After all health and safety issues are addressed, call your insurance provider and notify them of the accident.
  • Should you call a tow truck?
    • Typically, a police officer will handle calling a tow truck. However, if law enforcement officials tell you to contact a tow company, you should do so.

After the Initial Shock of a Car Accident: Preliminary Actions

After you have gathered your composure and contacted the police, you may begin to gather preliminary information for your records. The following is a list of things you should do after you have called the police:

  • Remain calm, cool, and collected
    • Even if the other party is panicked or angry, remain calm. Be as polite as possible
  • Get all parties’ names and car insurance information along with providing your own name and car insurance
    • At no point should you allow your driver’s license to be photographed. This may lead to identity theft.
  • Get any names, addresses and phone numbers of any witness to the car accident
    • If there is a lawsuit over the car accident, this information will be immensely important

After the Initial Shock of a Car Accident: Evidence Gathering

After you have regained your composure and recorded the above information, begin gathering evidence. At this point, if safety allows, you may begin to take photographs and write down detailed notes of the incident. The following are things you should do to gather further information:

  • Determine if you can safely take pictures
    • If it is not safe to take pictures, do not do so. You may be putting yourself and others at risk.
  • Listen to law enforcement instructions
    • If law enforcement officials are telling you to back away from the accident, it is likely for your own safety. You should comply with their requests.
  • Take photographs of the following:
    • License plates of all of the vehicles involved in the accident
    • Damage to any vehicles involved in the accident
    • Damage to any property, not including the vehicles, as a result of the accident
    • Any detail from the accident.
      • This includes debris, the scene’s surroundings, possible skid marks, broken glass, etc.
    • Your surroundings.
      • This includes street signs, terrain, traffic lights, or any other identifying information.

If, during this time, you determine it is unsafe to take photographs, do not risk it. Get somewhere safe, and then write down on your pad and paper or smartphone the following:

  • Time and date of the accident
  • Weather conditions
  • Traffic conditions
  • Road conditions
  • Address or location of the accident

Also, please do not do anything that might aggravate any undiscovered injuries you may have such as trying to crawl under and vehicle or on top of a vehicle for photos.

After the Initial Shock of a Car Accident: The Aftermath

After all of the injuries have been tended to and the debris cleared, it is important to remember to file a police report. After that has been accomplished, remember to obtain a copy of the police report for your records.

Another important aspect to remember is to document everything related to the car accident. You never know when something may become relevant in a criminal or civil lawsuit.

Obtain a Crash Report

All police reports associated with car accidents n Texas eventually end up in the Texas Department of Transportation’s Crash Reporting and Analysis for Safer Highways (C.R.A.S.H.) where you can download them online.  The time it takes to get a report may vary depending upon what city or county department the report comes from, but 7-14 days is the norm unless there are special circumstances. Sometimes, you can obtain a copy of the police accident report sooner by contacting the local department that investigated the collision.

Remember to Be Prepared!

Car accidents are frightening and upsetting, and in some cases may be purposeful. The best thing you can do is to be prepared. By following this simple checklist, you will be better prepared if you are in a car accident.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Clients Say About Us

Review: 5/5 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★  “After the accident I was really shaken to my core. Being a senior citizen, I wasn’t sure just what to do. I saw your tv ad and I decided to call. So glad I did and from day one I was treated very well. Especially since I didn’t have the pertinent information I should have gotten from the person who hit me. In spite of it all, your people were able to get all the information needed for my case. i consider that a job well done. I am truly grateful for all your help.” – Veda J., actual client.

Author

Paul Cannon

Paul Cannon has practiced personal injury trial law since 1995. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law (2005). He has earned recognition as a Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters in 2017 & 2018, and as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association in 2017. He is a Shareholder, trial lawyer and online marketing manager at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. His legal writings have been published by the Texas Bar Journal, Business.com, Lawyer.com HG Legal Resources, Lawfirms.com, and others. He has been asked to give education talks and media interviews on dog bite law.