What to Do After a Car Accident in Austin
After the screeching brakes, honking horns, and ringing in the ears subsides, drivers involved in an accident must gather their wits and respond to the scene. An accident can happen quickly and leave you injured, out of work, and wondering how you will pay for medical bills. Before you leave the scene, keep some best practices in mind to protect your legal rights and then consider speaking with a dedicated Austin car accident lawyer to learn more about your legal options.
8 Steps to Take After a Car Accident
You never know when evidence will protect your right to compensation or defend you against liability claims. Smart record keeping will ensure the truth wins out in insurance and legal claims. Use these recommendations after every car accident in Austin, including fender benders:
- Stop your vehicle. Do not leave the accident scene. Stop, look around you, and pull over to the side of the road or as close to the accident center as possible.
- Assess injuries. Many people feel a rush of adrenaline after an accident and want to immediately leave their vehicle to assess the damage. Before you leave your vehicle, assess your own injuries. If you are seriously injured and not in immediate danger, remain in your vehicle and contact emergency services.
If you are not seriously injured, try to help others. Ask others involved if they were injured and call emergency services if anyone suffered an injury in the accident. Do not attempt to move another injured person if possible.
- Exchange information with other drivers. Ask for and provide full names and contact information, an insurance company and policy number, driver’s license number and license plate number, other vehicle identification information, and accident location information.
- Gather helpful information. If you are too injured to do any of the following, simply rest and try to memorize as much of the scene as possible. If you can gather information, document the following:
- Officer, emergency responder, passenger, and witness information. Ask for the name and badge numbers of responding officers. Take down the name and company information for emergency responders. Record all the names of passengers involved in the accident. Ask for witness names and contact information. Ask officers about how you can obtain the crash report.
- Take pictures. If you have access to a smartphone, snap pictures and videos of the accident scene. Try to capture both vehicles, the street location, weather conditions, property damage, and visible injuries.
- Secure personal belongings. Take pictures of all the personal belongings in your car, particularly if a tow truck is on the way. Secure dash cams, purses, laptop bags, and other valuables prior to leaving the scene.
- Seek medical attention. Always visit an emergency room or your personal care physician after any accident. Some accidents seem minor at the time only to cause serious side effects days or weeks later. Consider brain injuries, for example. You may hit your head in an accident and feel fine for a few days only to lose cognitive functioning two weeks later. Without a medical record of the incident, you could lose your opportunity to seek compensation.
- File an accident report. If officers do not respond to the scene, you may need to file an accident report on your own. In Texas, you must file a report for accidents resulting in injury, death, or property damage exceeding $1,000.
- Notify your insurer. You do not need to give an insurance representative your full account of the incident when you report it. Provide basic information and agree to discuss the incident after an investigation takes place. An insurance representative needs contact information for drivers information involved, insurance information for other drivers, law enforcement information, and basic information about the accident.
For serious injuries and liability issues, discuss the incident with a personal injury attorney in Austin. A free initial consultation will give you a better idea about the legal ramifications of a claim and your next steps in the accident resolution process.