Car Accident Checklist: What to Do After a Crash?
Car accidents are chaotic. Your emotions are running high, you may have sustained an injury, and your mind is boggling as you try to think of what to do next. Taking precautions can help you understand what to do after a crash occurs and put you in a better position to protect your health, your safety, and your rights.
What to Do Immediately After a Car Crash?
After a crash, your first concern should be your safety and the safety of your occupants.
If possible, pull your car over to a safe, well-lit place where you and your vehicle are easily visible. Remaining on the road and in the path of traffic can put you, your occupants, and other motorists at risk. It is not uncommon for inattentive or distracted drivers to crash into vehicles – and people – at the scene of a previous collision.
Assess yourself and others for injuries. If you suspect an injury has occurred, play it safe and call an ambulance.
If you are traveling with kids, pets, seniors, or disabled persons, make sure they are safe and out of harm’s way. Remember that a hot car is still a hazard after a crash, so do not leave a child, pet, or disabled person unattended in the vehicle.
What If I Have My Child with Me During a Crash?
Children traveling in car seats should be removed from the vehicle still in their car seats. They may have sustained injuries that you cannot see, and removing them from their car seat improperly can exacerbate their injuries. This is especially true for back, spine, and neck injuries.
First responders will be able to assess your child and ensure they are safely removed from their car seat.
If you are traveling with children who are not in a car seat, keep them in your sight and a safe distance from the wreckage and traffic.
Do I Need to Call the Police After a Crash?
Texas Transportation Code § 601.004 requires you to report any crash that results in injury, death, or more than $1,000 in property damage. If your crash is an emergency – i.e. significant injuries have occurred or the crash has resulted in a hazard like a fire – call 911. Otherwise, report the crash to the non-emergency line.
If a police officer responds to the scene, they will file a report on your behalf. If the police do not investigate the scene, you will need to file a crash report with the Texas Department of Transportation within 10 days.
Failure to report a crash is a misdemeanor is may result in your license being suspended.
What Information Should I Get After a Crash?
There are several pieces of information you need to get from the other driver or other drivers after a crash. These include:
- Phone number
- Driver’s license number
- Vehicle registration
- Vehicle insurance
If the driver’s name does not match what is on the registration or insurance, try to determine what the driver’s relationship is to the owner.
Also, make note of vehicle information, including:
- License plate number
- Vehicle identification number (VIN)
Is There Any Information I Should Not Share After a Crash?
You should only share the above information with the other driver. Any other information is not necessary.
Also, you should never share your Social Security number, bank information, coverage limits on your policy, any medical history or history of injuries, or other personal information.
What You Should Document from the Scene
With smartphones, it has never been easier to document a crash.
Take photos and/or video of the scene, vehicles, and any hazards that may have contributed to the crash. Also, be sure to include relevant items like skid marks or damaged property. Be sure to note the names of the street the crash occurred on (or streets if at an intersection) as well as the direction all vehicles involved in the crash were traveling.
You can also make voice memos to ensure you have an accurate account of how the crash occurred. As mentioned, car crashes are confusing and it does not take long for some memories and details to become hazy.
If there were witnesses to the crash, be sure to collect their contact information as well.
Don’t Discuss the Crash or Argue About Responsibility at the Scene
Avoid talking to the other driver about how the crash occurred. More likely than not, you will have different accounts and neither will want to take full responsibility. Trying to talk it out or arguing about who is responsible will only complicate the claims process later.
Remember, it does not matter if the other driver knows they caused the crash. You do not need to convince them. When it comes to you being compensated and receiving the justice you deserve, responsibility will be determined by a third-party not directly involved in the crash.
Depending on how you proceed with your claim, the deciding parties could include your respective insurers, your attorneys, a judge, or a jury.
Finally, if you suspect the other driver is impaired or if they are behaving aggressively, call the police. Do not engage with the other driver, and allow the police to handle the situation.
When Should I Call My Insurance Company?
Most insurance policies require that you inform your insurer of a crash within a certain amount of time. Even without that requirement, failure to report your crash to your insurance company in a timely manner can leave you liable for the damages associated with the crash.
It is best to contact your insurer as soon as you can. Putting off the call can only make matters worse. That being said, you may want to speak to an attorney before answering any questions for the other’s driver’s insurance company.
Do I Need to See a Doctor?
Yes. Simply put, it is always a good idea to get a check-up after a car collision, even if you are not feeling immediate pain.
Injuries may not always be immediately noticeable. Adrenaline can disguise pain, and some injuries may have delayed symptoms. Over time, however, your condition may worsen leading to pain, discomfort, and loss of mobility.
Scheduling a check-up after a crash can help diagnose any potential injuries. If no injuries are found, at least you can leave your appointment confident and with peace of mind.
Should I Call a Car Accident Lawyer?
Whether or not you need legal representation will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. Fortunately, Thomas J. Henry Law offers FREE Case Reviews to all injured individuals in order to help them decide if a car accident attorney is necessary.
Our case reviews are completed by an attorney and are offered 24/7, nights and weekends for your convenience.
Do not wait, call now.