Personal Injury Lawyers: What to do Immediately After an Accident
Best Practices: The 7 Most Important Steps to Take After a Car Accident
While there are many variables that determine the outcome of a car accident lawsuit, there are certainly several things that successful cases all have in common. By following the below list immediately after an accident, you will stand the greatest chance of obtaining fair compensation.
Odds are, you, your family, or someone you love will be involved in one of these accidents and will suffer economic loss as a result. Our law office has assembled this article for your benefit and is designed to educate and equip you to use Texas Car Accident laws to your full advantage. Reviewing this article will assist you in receiving any medical care you might need after an accident, and to maximize your recovery for economic loss that you might experience as a result.
The best time to collect evidence of the accident is immediately after it happens. Too often, precious evidence is lost or becomes undiscoverable when it is not collected immediately. Ideally, you should begin the following steps (discussed in detail below) the moment you step out of your vehicle after you’ve been in an accident. If you are unable to do any of these steps yourself, have a family member or friend do them for you.
Step 1: Take a Deep Breath and Try to Remain Calm
Simply put, car accidents are stressful. After an accident, you may experience a range of emotions in addition to any injuries you’ve suffered. Although you are justified in being upset, it’s important to keep your emotions in check. A clear head and a well-executed plan are necessary to maximize both recovery and your rights under Texas law. More information about car accident law here @
Step 2: Get Medical Attention, Even if You Think Your Injuries Aren’t Severe
Sometimes the most serious injuries are those that aren’t apparent immediately following an accident. Adrenaline and other hormones often trick our bodies into thinking that our injuries aren’t severe, and mask the full extent of our injuries until after we’ve left the scene of the accident. The dangers of undiscovered injuries are very real, as failure to obtain immediate medical attention could cause irreparable injury or death. Thus, it is good practice to call EMS to evaluate your injuries, even if you think they aren’t severe. Also, when an ambulance ride is offered, it is good practice to err on the side of caution and take it. Odds are that an ambulance ride is being offered to you because a trained paramedic realized that you need medical treatment that is too severe to be treated at the scene.
Similarly, it’s important to not downplay your injuries to police or medical personnel. Even highly qualified medical personnel, including paramedics and doctors, usually require full disclosure of your injuries to make an accurate diagnosis and to prescribe a comprehensive treatment plan. Although you may be tempted to “be strong” for loved ones, it is more important that you address your injuries frankly and directly. Please click on this link @ https://fordandlaurel.com
Promptly obtaining medical attention for any injury, no matter how small, is essential to obtain maximum recovery for your injuries. If you fail to obtain medical attention immediately following the accident, the defendant may claim that your injuries were caused or aggravated by an outside force. As the person seeking recovery for your injuries, you have to prove that the defendant caused them. Here’s an illustrative example: say that you only feel a bit sore after you’re rear-ended by a distracted driver. Two weeks later, you are having a hard time breathing so you go to the emergency room, where your x-ray shows that you have several broken ribs and a punctured lung, which was caused when you were rear-ended. Here, the defendant will claim that something else must have happened and will argue that anyone who has a broken rib or punctured lung would need immediate medical attention. As a result, the court may believe the defendant and limit your recovery to soreness instead of broken ribs and a punctured lung, an amount that is significantly less. Thus, it’s in your best interest to obtain medical attention immediately after you’re in an accident to obtain a complete recovery for your injuries.
Step 3: Call the Police for an Officer to Come to the Accident Scene to Write an Accident Report, and Explain the Accident to the Investigating Officer in Explicit Detail
Obtaining a police report should be one of your main objectives after you are in an accident, even where the other driver immediately and clearly admits fault. A police report is a document prepared by a police officer that includes the names, addresses, and insurance information of all parties involved, as well as the investigating officer’s findings as to the cause of the accident.
Although having an officer write, and later obtaining, a police report may seem confusing or intimidating, our law office has simplified this process by outlining steps and tips designed to assist you in procuring a police report below. In addition, a competent car accident attorney is able to do most of this for you. However, in the event that you have not retained an attorney, such as immediately after the accident occurs, the following steps are helpful.
The first step is to call the police immediately after the accident occurs. Although you may suspect that someone has called the police on your behalf, you should call anyway to ensure that they arrive quickly and to disclose information that other drivers may not know, such as the existence and severity of injuries. Please note that it is important to obtain a police report for all accidents, regardless of the other drivers’ admitting fault. Too often, the responsible driver changes their story after they leave the accident scene, leaving the victim without this crucial piece of evidence.
Second, you should give the officer a concise 30-second explanation of what caused the accident. Just the facts are needed here. For example, something as simple as this will work: “I was traveling east, and the other guy was traveling west. In the distance, I saw him swerving in his lane. He then swerved into my lane, and although I applied my brakes and tried to pull onto the shoulder to avoid him, it didn’t work and he ran into my car. After the accident, I noticed that my head was bleeding and I had a hard time breathing.” Note that officers only write a report if an injury has occurred, so be sure to disclose any injury that you’ve suffered, even if you think it’s small.
Third, you should describe the accident as accurately as possible to the officer. Officers use information from accident victims while compiling their reports, and it’s important that they have all of the facts. While talking with the officer, it is extremely important to disclose the full extent of your injuries. You should tell the officer of any injury you suffered as a result of the accident in detail, even if you think it is “small” at the time. Small injuries often become more severe after the passage of time, and it is crucial that the police report shows that the injury originated with the accident. In no event should you tell the peace officer that you are “okay” or feel “fine.”
When you wish to pick up a copy of the police report prepared for your accident, you might have several options to do so. Police reports are often available in person at the office that investigated the accident and are usually available two to five days after the report is written. Alternatively, your car accident attorney can easily obtain an accident report on your behalf.
Step 4: Obtain Information From the Other Driver
Your goal in talking to the other driver is two-fold: First, to elicit evidence that shows that they were at fault in causing the accident, and second, to not inadvertently admit that it was your fault.
When talking with other drivers involved in an accident, ask questions that are helpful in determining if it was irresponsible for them to be driving in the first place. For example, if their speech is slurred or they are unable to walk normally, ask them questions such as “have you been drinking alcohol?” or “are you under the influence of drugs?”
Although a confession is ideal, the other driver may attempt to conceal their liability from you. When that happens, ask them questions that cut through their concealment and reveal the truth. Helpful questions include:
“Where are you coming from?” The place where the other driver is coming from can have wide implications on his liability for causing the accident. For example, if the driver is on the way home from working a night shift, he might be too tired to drive responsibly. Or, if a driver has left a bar or restaurant, he may have consumed too much alcohol, and as a result, drove recklessly and caused the accident.
“What were you doing when the accident happened?” This question is important because it will tell if the driver was distracted when the accident occurred. A distracted driver is a dangerous driver. Distractions come in several forms and include talking on the phone, texting, arguing with a passenger, shaving, putting on makeup, and attempting to retrieve something dropped on the floor. In Texas, drivers have the duty to operate their vehicles in a responsible manner, which includes driving while not distracted.
“Were you in a rush to get somewhere?” This question is important because it will tell if the driver may have been driving negligently or recklessly when the accident occurred. People who are in a rush often don’t use their best judgment and may have operated their vehicles in a manner that is unreasonable under the circumstances.
Additionally, you should never admit that the accident was your fault, in full or in part, to the other driver, to medical personnel, or to police officers. Similarly, although you might feel bad or sorry for the other driver, you shouldn’t say anything that reduces his fault in causing the accident. Your objective in obtaining maximum recovery is to be pleasant, but stern in asserting the cause of the accident. Note also that the cause of an accident is often complex, involves several factors (some of which may be unknown to you), and requires the opinion of an expert. Admitting that the accident was your fault before an expert analyzes the facts may cause substantial and irreparable damage to your case, and almost always unfairly benefits the other driver when the accident was really their fault.
Step 5: Talk to and Obtain Information From Witnesses
Witnesses are an excellent resource for you to maximize your rights and recovery under Texas auto accident laws. Although helpful, you should exercise a level of caution when talking and obtaining information from them. First, under no circumstances should you admit fault to a witness. The other driver can use this information against you, even if it’s not included in the police report. Second, have all witnesses, when possible, give their account of the accident to a police officer for their report.
Step 6: Take Pictures of Everything
The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” rings especially true for car accidents. It is good practice to immediately take pictures of anything you think may be useful in determining the cause and effects of the accident. Waiting to take pictures at a later date may be harmful to your case, as evidence may have been altered or may not be viewed credibly by a court. Importantly, pictures are crucial to a jury’s understanding of the case and are often necessary to obtain a full recovery for your injuries. In all cases, be sure to take pictures of the following:
The license plate on all vehicles involved in the accident;
All vehicles involved;
Any injuries you’ve suffered;
The other driver, and the other driver’s license and insurance card;
The accident scene from several angles;
Any incriminating evidence, including empty beer cans (even if in the bed of a truck), drug paraphernalia, or possible distractions inside the vehicle;
Pictures of witnesses and their license plates;
Pictures of traffic control devices, including stop signs and lights, mile markers, street signs, and traffic cameras; and
Pictures of landmarks to pinpoint the exact location of the accident, such as billboards and surrounding buildings.
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Step 7: Call a Competent Car Wreck Attorney
If you’ve been in a car wreck as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and economic loss. It is important that you have an attorney that understands your rights and has a history of success in representing car accident victims. The team at our law office has a track record of success and has obtained numerous recoveries for our clients.
Our attorneys are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to provide a free consultation regarding your auto accident.
Carabin Shaw P.C.
630 Broadway St, San Antonio, TX 78215