Driver Getting Out Of Car And Inspecting Damage After Accident

Important Steps to Take After an Accident 

The Law Office of Steve Brannan April 11, 2024

Auto accidents are a distressing occurrence that millions face each year. They are not only a matter of serious legal consequence but also an emotionally-disorienting and physically-challenging event. The aftermath of an accident can leave individuals feeling lost, overwhelmed, and uncertain about the steps to take. However, the moments, hours, and days following an auto accident are critical for seeking help and filing claims.  

Knowing the specific actions to take immediately after an auto accident can significantly impact the outcome of any legal proceedings that may follow and maintain the safety and well-being of everyone involved. Our team at The Law Office of Steve Brannan put together this guide detailing the essential steps you should take following an auto accident. 

Immediate Actions at the Scene

At the scene of a car accident, emotions can run high, and many decisions can be made under duress. However, it's important to remain calm. Your first priority is your safety and the safety of the other parties involved. If possible, move the vehicles to the side of the road, activate your hazard lights, and set up emergency signals. Call the police and wait with your vehicle for help to arrive. 

In your next steps, gather any information you think might be relevant. Collect the other driver’s details, including their insurance information. Take pictures, jot down details of the accident, and speak with any witnesses. We recommend getting the contact information for any witnesses as well in case you need their input later on. Remember, conversations at the scene can potentially impact your future claims. Be selective about whom you interact with and focus on the facts. Do not issue any admissions of fault. 

Seek Medical Attention 

Not all car accidents result in injuries, but not all injuries are immediately apparent. Many assume that minor pain will subside, but medical issues can develop in the hours or days following the accident. It is imperative that you undergo a thorough medical evaluation from a licensed medical professional. This is not just to ensure your physical well-being; it is to provide you with a path of healing and to prevent any future health complications. Carefully document any injuries discovered by your doctor, as this documentation will serve as a basis for a personal injury claim. 

Report the Accident

In Texas, car accidents need to be reported within 10 days to the police if an officer is not called to the scene. Under Texas law, police officers are only required to file a collision report if it results in injury, death, or property damage that exceeds $1,000 or more. However, we always recommend calling an officer to the scene as a police report is a vital neutral document of the facts that will be necessary for subsequent insurance and legal procedures. 

Communicate With Insurance Companies

Communicating with insurance companies and their claims processes can be daunting. So, it's important for you to know your rights and to be vigilant against any tactics the insurance company may employ that could devalue or deny your claim. Insurance companies are businesses first and foremost, and their primary goal is to minimize payouts. 

Maintain detailed records of any conversations you had with the insurance company and the insurance adjuster's contact information. Also, be concise in your statements and only provide the information they need. Insurance negotiations can be complex, so we recommend reaching out to an experienced car accident attorney, as their knowledge and insight can significantly impact the outcome of your case. 

Consult With a Personal Injury Attorney

Seeking legal counsel is one of the most important steps you can take post-accident. They possess a deep understanding of the law, enabling them to advocate effectively with insurance companies on your behalf, making sure you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries, damages, and any lost wages.  

A personal injury attorney can also take on a majority of the legal and financial stress you may face, allowing you to focus on your emotional and physical recovery without the added worry of how to handle your claim. Furthermore, they can help you navigate any potential legal disputes that may arise and make sure your rights are protected and upheld. 

Financial Protection Following an Accident

In Texas, there are several avenues that victims can explore for coverage to help protect their finances after an auto accident: 

  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance: PIP provides immediate funds to cover your medical expenses, 80% of lost income, and the cost of hiring a caregiver without having to establish fault in the accident. Texas law requires auto insurers to offer PIP coverage in all their policies, although policyholders can reject it in writing. 

  • Medical Payments Coverage (MedPay): Similar to PIP, MedPay covers medical expenses for you and your passengers, regardless of fault, up to the coverage limit. However, unlike PIP, MedPay does not cover lost wages or non-medical expenses.  

  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage: UM/UIM coverage comes into play when the at-fault driver does not have sufficient insurance to cover the damages or is entirely uninsured. This coverage allows you to file a claim against your own insurance for bodily injuries and property damage (in some policies) to make sure you are not left financially stranded.  

Seek Experienced Legal Counsel

The aftermath of an auto accident can be challenging and overwhelming. But remember, there are specific steps you can take to protect your legal rights and work toward a fair and equitable resolution. If you're in Texas and have been injured in a car accident, be sure to reach out to an experienced auto accident attorney like The Law Office of Steve Brannan. At our firm, we will work tirelessly to uphold your rights and hold the responsible parties accountable. Located in Odessa, Texas, we proudly serve clients throughout Midland, Big Spring, Pecos, Andrews, and communities in West Texas.