The moments after a crash, no matter how serious, are often filled with panic, pain, and confusion. We know how stressful navigating this situation can be, but you can take steps to protect yourself after a wreck.
1. Call 911 and Request Emergency Services
Once you’re out of harm’s way, call the authorities and let them know if someone’s injured. The 911 operator will send an ambulance and a police officer to the scene. The responding officer should create a crash report, which will be important to your case later. If the officer declines or suggests you do not need a crash report, politely ask that he or she prepare one so that all drivers have a record of what happened.
2. Take Photos of the Crash (if it’s Safe to Do So)
Photos of the crash are valuable pieces of evidence. If it’s safe and you’re able, take as many pictures as you can of the damaged vehicles, their license plate numbers, the road, conditions, and anything else that seems relevant to the crash. These images can help your legal team fight for you later.
For example, an accident reconstruction expert can study images of skid marks, the positioning of the vehicles, and other crash scene details and pinpoint the likely causes of the car crash.
However, never put your life at risk to take pictures or video. There are other ways that our team can investigate crashes, using surveillance video, GPS and mobile phone data, telematic systems, and eyewitness and expert testimony.
3. Collect Other Evidence and Identify Witnesses
While photos will help your lawyer and their experts understand the circumstances surrounding your crash, there’s a lot more evidence at the scene of a crash. If possible, start taking notes right away. You should write down the following information:
- The name of the responding officer and their badge number
- Names of any eyewitnesses who stopped at the scene of the crash (and their phone numbers)
- Information about the at-fault driver’s insurance company
While you should never move evidence or tamper with the police investigation, you can document what you see and hear.
If someone saw your car crash, do your best to take down their name and contact information. We know that it’s not always possible to do so, but when it is, a witness account of the crash might strengthen your personal injury case.
4. Go to the Doctor as Soon as Possible
Emergency medical treatment is critical after a car accident, even if you don’t “feel hurt.” After a crash, adrenaline makes it all too easy to suffer from a hidden injury, like internal bleeding, and not even realize it. Getting treated quickly can help prevent unnecessary pain, suffering, and expense.
Additionally, medical records are essential to your personal injury case. When you see a doctor, they will write down important details about your injuries, symptoms, and limitations. This information will help a jury understand your damages and whether your injuries are linked to the car wreck.
5. Write Down All the Details
It’s not unusual for crash details, which feel so sharp at the time, to quickly fade. When you get home, carefully write down everything you can remember about the incident, including weather, road conditions, and any pain you feel later.
You should also track your symptoms after a crash. It’s easy to adjust to your “new normal,” ignoring the many ways that your injuries have changed your life. If you don’t already have a journal, it’s time to start one. Every day, document your pain and activity levels, noting any changes or difficulties that you have.
6. File Your Insurance Claims
Filing an insurance claim is typically the first step towards getting the compensation you deserve. While most personal injury lawsuits focus on the at-fault driver and their insurance company, you might have additional claims:
- Personal injury protection
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
- Product liability, if a defective or dangerous product contributed to the crash
- Dram shop liability, if a bar or restaurant knowingly overserved a drunk driver
Our team of Katy, Texas, injury attorneys have a reputation for identifying each and every insurance policy that covers our clients’ claims. We strive to get you every penny that you deserve, so it’s essential that we understand the full extent of your insurance coverage.
Once you’ve identified all the policies that cover your injuries, you can file your insurance claims. If you’re unsure about the process, what options you have for recovery, and how much your case is worth, contact a lawyer. We can help you understand your case’s full settlement value and ensure that you follow Texas’ procedural rules.
Notably, you only have two years from your crash to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you miss this deadline (sometimes called the statute of limitations), you might lose out of valuable compensation. If you need help calculating your filing deadlines, call our office right away.
Once you’ve identified all the policies that cover your injuries, you can file your insurance claims. If you’re unsure about the process, what options you have for recovery, and how much your case is worth, contact a lawyer.