Checklist: What to Do After a Dallas Car Accident
You were hit and injured in a car accident in Dallas, Texas, what's next? This checklist was composed by legal experts to help you protect your safety, health, legal rights after the crash, from important steps to take while still at the scene, to the weeks following in bringing a claim for compensation.
Remain at the Scene
If you're involved in a car accident, Texas law requires you to remain at the scene if there are damages to the vehicles, or if the accident caused someone involved to suffer injuries. While that may sound obvious, hit and runs are illegal and carry heft criminal implications. Stay safe and err on the side of caution by remaining at the accident until the police arrive. You could be injured and not even realize it, so it is a best practice to obtain medical care from paramedics while at the scene even if you feel only mild sensations or discomfort.
Move to a safe place, check on others
If your vehicle is in a dangerous position that may cause more harm to you or others on the roadway, it is vital to get out of harm’s way by moving the vehicle to a safe area. Once you have confidently done this, check to make sure those involved in the crash are okay. Start with any passengers in your car, and then check on the other motorist. You may be the only person who can provide first aid or prevent an additionally dangerous situation from happening until the police arrive.
Exchange insurance information
While waiting for the police to arrive you should request that the parties involved exchange insurance coverage information. Per Texas law, you are actually required that motorists exchange information at the crash site. Do not rely on the police to obtain these details, because sometimes they don’t. In cases where the police do secure all of the proper information you still may have to wait until the Crash Report releases (sometimes 7-10 business) to learn of this info. So, take a picture of their license and insurance card if you can.
If auto insurance information is not readily available for any of the drivers, you can ask for their vehicle registration information instead.
Also, write down the make and model of the car, license plate number, and any other identifying details about their vehicles.
Dial 911 to report the accident. Don't rely on the other driver to report it. The other party involved might also try to persuade you from calling for emergency assistance by mentioning their insurance rates, driving history, or a lack of structural damage to the cars, but it is essential to gain the assistance of a police officer to protect your health and others.
The responding officer from the Dallas Police Department will file a Texas Crash Report that includes the contact information of drivers involved, along with their auto insurance company and policy number. The officer will also investigate the factors that contributed to causing the accident and make a determination of who was at fault. Any traffic citations issued by the police officer will help an attorney when seeking compensation for any innocent drivers, passengers, or pedestrians hurt in the wreck.
Request medical care
If you feel any pain or new sensations after being involved in an automobile accident - even something as small as lightheadedness or a headache - request that the EMT transfer you by ambulance to a nearby general hospital from the scene. After being involved in a car accident in Dallas, Texas, it is critically important that you receive prompt medical treatment and observation from an emergency room. Certain life-threatening complications, such as internal bleeding, bone fractures, and concussions, might not manifest until later but can be detected during the initial trauma assessment. If you don't seek emergency care from the scene, make sure to visit a hospital or emergency care clinic within 24 hours of the accident. You should never assume that you avoided injuries in the crash simply because you aren't feeling sharp pains.
Additionally, the medical records and discharge paperwork you receive from your hospital visit help establish your right to compensation by describing the mechanism of injury and evidencing your grievances. Keep hold of this documentation as your attorney will need to review it to determine the degree of your injury, along with the proper follow-up care or medical referrals you need moving forward.
Do not discuss fault
Even if you think that you caused the accident, don't admit fault or say anything about how it happened. While it might seem like the "right" thing to do at the time, it can significantly impact your case later on. It is up to courts or insurance companies to determine who is at fault, so simply gather the information necessary, and let others make the required determinations.
Take notes at the scene
If it is safe to do so, jot down notes about what happened at the scene before you forget any helpful details. You don’t want to later forget critical evidence that would make or break your right to a settlement or award. If you have a cell phone with a voice recording, open a new memo to record notes more rapidly and refer to later.
Feel free to also take a video recording of the post-accident scene, capturing any details such as tire tread marks, broken glass, deployed airbags, or similar that make your crash unique. Video footage has even look room for interpretation later. If someone involved in the accident is injured, intoxicated or appears to be impaired by drugs or alcohol, a video of their present state or items such as empty alcohol bottles could help the officer that will later arrive.
Contact your insurance company (but not theirs)
As soon as you can, notify your insurance company of the car accident. Make sure to tell the claims handler or adjuster whether you were injured in the accident, even if your pain level is mild at the time. If your insurance policy includes automobile collision benefits, then you have the option of having your car inspected and repaired when you report the claim, or you can wait until the insurance company of the other driver accepts fault.
Do not speak to the other party’s insurance without legal representation. Even if you believe that only the actions of the driver caused the collision, insurance companies train their adjusters to analyze the facts independently and they often attempt to re-apportion fault after taking your recorded statement. Your attorney will most likely not allow the insurance to take your statement and instead speak entirely on your behalf.
Purchase the crash report
Don’t forget to get a copy of the crash report. The police officer who investigated the traffic accident will complete a report that includes the information needed to process your insurance claim. These reports are usually available for pickup from local law enforcement agencies within seven to ten days of the date of the crash. Most police reports completed in Dallas can be purchased here. If another agency completed the report, you can also purchase a certified or uncertified copy of the report by inputting information related to the crash into the search portal of Crash Dot or Lexis Nexis.
Contact a legal professional
When car accidents happen, local law enforcement will arrive at the scene and assess it. You may be asked to give a statement about what happened. Take a deep breath and remain calm. This can be an overwhelming experience after impact. Your adrenaline is pumping, and your responses may seem exaggerated or defensive to an on-looker. Please do not admit fault, apologize for the accident or make any kind of admission about the incident before you speak to an experienced car accident attorney. Once you do share your side of the story with a lawyer, they can help you determine whether any actions or statements made were or were not appropriate while speaking with law enforcement. Choosing the right legal team can make a huge difference in your outcome after an accident!
Start a diary
Trust us, even though auto accidents can be one of the most traumatic events that you experience in your life, as time goes by, the specific details of the incident will begin to fade. Your brain also works to overcome trauma by trying to aid you in forgetting events that have major impacts on your psychological state. Since car accident claims and lawsuits are determined by facts and evidence, it is important to capture the details of what happened in a diary or some form of an information log. For ease, you can use an audio recording device. Your recollection of what occurred is strong evidence and helps fortify your claim seeking compensation for your damages.
Keep a copy of all documents
You should keep a copy of all medical bills and records, especially if you sought treatment because of the crash. Information like car repair estimates or receipts is also essential to keep. If your insurance company or lawyer needs this information, it will be critical to have a copy to provide them with to do their jobs the best they can.
Remember, when you're in an accident, you may be in a state of shock and frustration, but try to remain calm. More than likely, it'll be one of the rare times you'll encounter an accident, so do whatever you can to have a positive outcome from the situation. The best course of action after an accident is to collect as much evidence as possible and contact the authorities like the police, insurance, and your lawyer so that you can get a complete picture of your options after the crash.
Discuss the impact with your lawyer
Dallas car accident victims often experience large, unexpected expenses in the days and weeks after the wreck. From medical copays and prescription costs to lost income and property damage, costs can quickly accrue and have a great impact on your life. After an accident, it is important to get together with your attorney and discuss the economic concerns you have. Coming up with a budget can also help you navigate upcoming costs while your claim for compensation is being handled by the attorney. Your lawyer can also notify any creditors of your situation to delay or postpone any collection efforts by creditors, which lessens the degree of stress car accidents often have on the innocent party. After being hurt in a car accident here in Dallas, you need help rebuilding your life and healing from the injuries you're experiencing. The more detailed you are with your attorney, the better the legal professional can assist you in navigating the post-accident recovery process.
Don't post on social medical
Although many people can't go a day without updating their social media posts, sharing any information related to your involvement in an accident can hurt your claim. Car accident recoveries and Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok do not go well together. Even when you are completely innocent, it is impossible to predict how an individual juror here in Dallas County will respond to seeing your posts in the courtroom. Also, and most importantly, insurance companies look for any way to discredit your injuries, so video or important shared across social media about the crash scene, or your condition after the accident will be heavily scrutinized and in most cases used against you in some way. Give yourself the best opportunity at securing maximum compensation for your injuries by taking a break from social media, and this includes even entertaining posts or social commentary of current events.