Historically, a car accident takes place in Harris County every 15 minutes. Odds are, if you live and work or attend school in the Katy-Ft. Bend-Houston area, you will eventually be involved in a car wreck. If you have never been in an accident, it can be upsetting and overwhelming. Being prepared before the accident happens can make the process much smoother.
Assess Injuries in Your Car
The first thing you need to do before anything else is assess the injures of everyone in your vehicle and call 911 if anyone needs immediate medical assistance. If everyone is ok, your next thought should be how to make sure you stay that way.
Assess the Scene
To assess the scene, ask yourself several questions. Are you in traffic? Do you need to turn on emergency flashers? Can you Exit the vehicle safely? You want to make your car as visible as possible and make sure you are aware of all approaching traffic before exiting the vehicle. All too often, an accident that could have been minor becomes major because someone exits a vehicle when it is unsafe to do so and gets hit as a pedestrian by an unsuspecting driver.
Assess Injures in the Other Car
If you can see the other vehicle from your vehicle after the accident, you may be able to tell whether they need emergency assistance as well. While it is important that you assess injuries of other vehicles involved, do not attempt to exit your vehicle and check on others unless you are sure it is safe to do so.
Move to a Safe Area
If the vehicles can be moved to a shoulder, parking lot, side road, or other safe area then you should do so. The law in the State of Texas dictates that if the vehicles can be safely moved to prevent a traffic back up, then they need to be moved. If they cannot be moved, contact the police or other emergency services, and move to a safe distance from the crash site until help arrives to assist in removing the wrecked vehicles.
Call the Police
No matter how slight the damage may appear, you should always notify the police so they can complete an accident report for the insurance company. About 50% of the drivers in the Houston area have no insurance, expired insurance, fake insurance, or are excluded from the policy they may show you. Additionally, all to often people change their story when they talk to your insurance company later and there is no established record. Getting an accident report will help your insurance company identify the person and get an accurate story.
Use your smartphone to take pictures of everything that has to do with the accident including:
- The damage to your vehicle.
- The damage to the other vehicles involved in the accident.
- The other driver(s) driver’s license and insurance card.
- Take pictures of the intersection or the scene of the accident itself. These pictures will assist in piecing together the chain of events that led to the collision.
- Take pictures of the license plates of all vehicles that were involved in the collision and any license plates for vehicles of potential witnesses to the accident.
- Take pictures of the tow truck drivers card and company information.
- Once the police officer’s card and/or badge number.
- Take pictures of any witnesses and make sure to get their contact information.
Do not wander around in traffic trying to take photos. Make sure you are on the curb or shoulder in a safe area before taking photos.
Get a Medical Checkup
Often after an auto accident, our bodies have so much adrenaline into our bloodstream that we will not feel the full extent of the injuries until the adrenaline has worked its way out of our system. If you are experiencing any discomfort, you would be wise to get checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible. Injuries like whiplash and mild concussions can seem like soreness and headaches in the beginning.
A FREE Car Accident Checklist
It is not uncommon for cellphones to become collateral damage during an auto accident. If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of having your cellphone rendered inoperable due to an auto accident, then please click on this link to download our free that you can print and keep in your glove compartment along with a pen in the event you need it.
When Should You Consult an Accident Attorney After an Auto Accident?
If the accident was not your fault and you suffered injuries or liability is likely to be disputed, you would be wise to get a free consultation with an accident attorney. The role of the insurance company for the other driver is protect their insured, not you. Do not give the other driver’s insurance company a recorded statement. All too often, we see trained adjusters confuse people into saying things that can be twisted around and used to devalue or deny the claim.
If the accident was your fault, your insurance company is obligated to provide you with a legal defense if necessary. You may also have some limited personal injury protection benefits that apply regardless of who is at fault that you can apply for to reimburse initial medical expenses and health insurance deductibles.
Accidents Will Happen
The more time you spend on Texas roadways, the more likely it is that you will eventually be involved in an auto accident. Stay calm. Be prepared. Put safety first.