After a Car Accident — What Should You Do?

Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP June 13, 2014

According to TxDOT based on 2013 reportable crashes in Texas, a reportable crash occurred every 71 seconds; a person was injured every 2 minutes and 16 seconds; and a person was killed every 2 hours and 36 minutes.1 Whether minor or more serious, accidents are stressful, traumatic occurrences that distress involved parties who don’t know what to do immediately after a car accident. Attorneys who handle injury claims resulting from auto accidents offer some helpful recommendations. If certain actions are taken at the right time, the aftermath of an accident can be less difficult.

Immediately After The Accident

  • Check on Passengers – Call for help right away if it appears that any vehicle occupant needs medical attention. If there is not an emergency medical situation, get everyone out of the vehicles and to a safe place away from the accident scene; leave damage assessment for later. All involved parties should not leave the accident scene until law officials arrive.

  • Call for Help – If someone needs medical help, call 911. Do not remove an injured person from the vehicle unless there is a visible threat to occupants such as fire. The better choice is to let emergency responders handle injured parties. Call the police when all vehicle occupants are out of the involved vehicles, appear to be all right, and are waiting in a safe place. While the above is taking place, bystanders may have called the police. but you should confirm such information.

  • Secure The Area – If the road is being blocked by vehicles in any way, set flares to guide oncoming traffic around the accident scene. Do not stay close to damaged vehicles as vehicle occupants could be struck by other vehicles coming upon the accident scene.

  • Don’t Leave The Scene – This is crucial. Unless it is medically necessary, do not leave the scene of the accident. A driver’s report of the accident cannot be recorded if that driver leaves the scene. Your input is important – law officials called to the scene of the accident may be given incorrect information.

Information Gathering and Reporting

  • Exchange Information – If it appears that no damage has been sustained, accident attorneys advise that it is still essential to exchange information if possible. Personal contact information, insurance information, license plate numbers, and drivers license information should be obtained from all involved drivers. Contact information should be gathered from everyone involved, including passengers in all vehicles.

  • Record the Scene – Take pictures of the scene as soon as possible. Since most people carry cell phones with camera capabilities, someone at the scene often handles this task. Get names and contact information from any witnesses to the accident.

  • Describe Accident to Law Officials – As soon as possible, tell police what happened; avoid any elaboration or guessing. Be factual and keep personal feelings out of the report.

  • Call Insurance Companies – Call your insurance company as soon as possible after speaking with the police. You should provide your insurance carrier with all of the above collected information. They may leave instructions to be followed.

After Leaving The Accident Scene

  • Do Not Wait To Seek Medical Care – It may take hours or days before a person involved in an accident begins to feel pain from an injury resulting from the accident. Experienced accident attorneys often learn that clients started feeling pain shortly after the accident but decided not to seek treatment for weeks or months after the accident because the pain was tolerable but slowly got worse. Not only does waiting to get treatment increase the likelihood of your injury getting worse, insurance companies use delays in treatment to argue that the injury was not caused by the accident. As soon as you feel discomfort or pain after an accident, seek immediate medical treatment with your primary care doctor or the emergency room. If you do not have insurance, you may contact an attorney who may help you obtain the medical treatment you need.

  • Good Record Keeping – Much information is gathered when dealing with car accidents. Drivers should keep a file with all collected information and regularly update it with any new documentation.

By following the above suggestions, car accident victims will be better prepared to deal with all issues resulting from the accident. You may want to retain the services of experienced accident attorneys to handle the many details of a car accident. These attorneys can offer advice on the best way to proceed.