by Chris Brasure, Brasure Law Firm PLLC
Houston is larger than some states, and considered a megacity. So, if you live, work, or travel in Houston, at some point you may possibly get into a car accident. After an accident occurs, someone must look at the immediate damage and assess blame. But, there are times when the facts of an accident are unclear. The accident can be your fault, the other driver’s fault or the fault can be attributed to each of you. Regardless of what you think happened, it is wise to gather all the information necessary to protect yourself before reaching out to a car accident lawyer.
Take the following steps after an accident, and you will have the evidence you need to prove who was at fault:
Stop and Call 911
Immediately check on all people involved, for injury and pain. In the state of Texas, you are required by law to:
- Stop the vehicle
○ Remain at the scene until the police arrive.
- Check all people involved for injuries
○ This includes the other driver, all passengers in either vehicle and anyone outside the accident that is hurt.
- Call 911 for help
○ Many people do not realize that under state law, you are required to get help for those who are injured.
○ Advise the 911 operator of any injuries, fluids leaking from the automobiles, and any smoke or fire. Each moment is critical in an emergency, so you need to get help to the scene as soon as possible.
○ If it is dark, use flashlights or road flares to let traffic know there is a problem.
○ Do not move the vehicles unless or until the police say it is okay.
Exchange all vital information, including phone numbers and insurance information. Take a picture (with your phone) of the license plates on the car in case the driver is uninsured and tries to leave the accident before police arrive. Also, make a note of the color and model of the automobile.
Get contact information from any witnesses of the accident to give to your insurance company. This information is essential to proving liability in Texas, especially if both parties involved in the accident are denying fault and suing for compensation.
One great thing about technology is almost everyone has a cell phone that records video and takes pictures. An accident can be traumatic, and details are easily forgotten, so you need photographic evidence. Take pictures of:
- All angles of the vehicles
- Road signs and landmarks
- Skid marks
- Physical injuries
If there is a car camera in use, secure the video for use in court. Use your cell phone to record a video. Record anything that could be important. Consider the behavior of the driver and their passengers. If there are witnesses, record their account of what they saw and try to get their contact information to give to your insurance company.
If you or anyone involved in the accident is injured, the injured party will be sent to the nearest hospital. But, even if you do not experience any immediate injuries, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Internal injuries, whiplash, strained spines, even bone fractures are often undiagnosed until the patient finally seeks treatment. If there are any children or senior citizens involved, insist they are checked out by a medical professional.
What Not to do
Never admit fault. Again, you only see the accident from one point of view. You may need the expertise of an attorney to review the evidence and prove who was at fault. When the accident is reconstructed, you may discover someone else is liable. Consult with an attorney if you are involved in a car accident in Houston and need help determining who was at fault.
Do not speak to anyone from their insurance company. They will try to negotiate settlement figures or intentionally confuse you to void your claim.
Do not post about the accident, your recovery, or show anything that looks fun on social media. Insurance companies can and have used this information against a client.
Do not lose your temper or argue with the other driver. Wait for the police and ambulance to arrive, and use the time to document your evidence. Tempers can flare during stressful events. Be smart and remain calm.
Do You Need An Attorney?
Accidents can vary from minor to deadly, but it is always wise to take the necessary steps to protect yourself. You will need an accident attorney if:
- Anyone was injured.
- There is more than $1,000 worth of property damage.
- If you suspect any drinking or drugs were involved.
- If your doctor is telling you to recover compensation beyond what your insurance company allows.