At The Mejia Law Firm, we continually work to educate ourselves and our community about the best ways to avoid and prevent car accidents on the roads of Houston. But accidents do happen, and you as a vehicle owner should be prepared and know how to handle a car crash in case you are involved in one.
Regardless of how the accident occurs or who is at fault, there are steps that should be taken to ensure the safety of all involved, and to help insurance and legal processes proceed smoothly in the days and weeks following the event. If you have further questions about what to do following your own car accident in Houston, please reach out to speak with an experienced car accident attorney from our firm about your legal options.
Five Things to Do Immediately After a Car Accident
Getting into a car accident, no matter how minor, is terrifying. It’s often an exercise of strength to keep yourself clearheaded and mentally focused after a traumatic event like a motor vehicle crash. By preparing yourself in advance for a worst-case scenario, you can be ready to competently handle the aftermath of an accident, in the event that one does happen. Here are five things you should do immediately after being involved in a collision.
Check for Injuries
The safety of all involved parties is the top priority following an auto collision. After checking yourself and everyone in your vehicle for injuries, make sure that the occupants of any other involved vehicles are safe and uninjured. Cuts, scrapes, broken bones, or bleeding may be immediately apparent. If anyone has noticeable physical injuries, call 911 immediately. Keep in mind that some symptoms might not be as obvious as surface wounds. If an accident victim is unconscious, unresponsive, unable to answer basic questions, or unable to move a part of their body, these can also be signs of an injury.
Additionally, hidden injuries following a car accident are not uncommon. The adrenaline and shock from the crash can effectively mask many symptoms of serious conditions. Car accident victims often report feeling fine at the scene of the accident, only to begin noticing pain and symptoms after they have gone home. For this reason, it’s important to not only be examined by emergency medical professionals at the scene of the accident, but also to schedule a follow-up examination with your personal care physician. Your doctor will be able to conduct a more thorough exam to make sure you were not the victim of more serious injuries, many of which can go undetected in the immediate aftermath of trauma.
The following is a list of some of the most common injuries that may be sustained in a motor vehicle crash:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Abrasion wounds
- Head or brain injury, including traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Neck, spine, and back injury
- Emotional trauma
- Broken bones and fractures
- Organ damage and internal bleeding
- Disfigurement or loss of limbs
If any car accident victim seems to be seriously injured, especially if they are reporting back or neck pain, do not attempt to move them. Moving a severely injured accident victim can put them in much greater danger. Keep them safe and motionless until emergency medical personnel arrive on the scene.
Call for Help and Get to Safety
As stated above, if anyone has visible injures, your first action should be to call for emergency medical services by dialing 911. You should also call your local law enforcement office to have a police officer sent to the scene. While you’re waiting for help to arrive, try to move the vehicles, if possible, out of the path of oncoming traffic and to a position of safety. If there is sufficient space to do so, move the vehicles to the side of the road and onto a shoulder or other area where passing cars will not be in danger of striking the disabled vehicles.
If you keep an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle, you can use flares, cones, or safety triangles to alert passing drivers and make your vehicle more visible. It’s important to avoid walking into the middle of the road or moving in and out of traffic, even if you may be in a state of panic or attempting to assess the damage done to your vehicle. Keep yourself, your passengers, and any other involved parties safely out of the path of oncoming traffic. Once police arrive, they will make a report of the accident. Ask for a copy of the report to use for your insurance or legal claim later.
At a point when it is safe to do so, exchange information with the other involved driver. This should include:
- Addresses and contact information
- Driver’s licenses information
- Car license plate numbers
- Insurance policy information
- Vehicle make, model, color, and year
- Information about the exact date, time, and location of the accident
You will need this data when you file your insurance claim, so make sure that you record all information correctly. Keep this document in a safe place where it won’t be lost in the confusion following the accident.
This is an important step to proving who was liable for the accident. Much of this vital evidence will not be available later after you have left the accident scene. Proof of the collision will soon be lost to time, weather, and clean-up efforts. One of the best ways to preserve the evidence is to take photographs of the scene of the accident. Even if you think there isn’t much to see in the photos, experts are often able to analyze subtle details to determine how the accident occurred and who is at fault. When taking pictures, try to show:
- Damage done to your own and other involved vehicles
- The position and location of the vehicles immediately after the collision
- Injuries sustained by any involved parties
- Skid marks or other evidence left on road surfaces
- Damage done to nearby lights, signs, guardrails, trees, plants, grass, building, or other objects
- Weather conditions
- Traffic conditions
- Nearby traffic signs and signals, like a crosswalk, stop sign, or one-way sign
- Any defective objects that contributed to the crash, like a broken traffic light
- Any other factors that may be relevant to the collision
Another good way to gather evidence to support your case is by speaking with eyewitnesses. If a bystander observed the collision from beginning to end, ask if they are willing to give their personal information to be contacted later for a statement. The account of a witness present at the scene can be helpful in verifying your story, especially if the other driver gives a conflicting account of what happened.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney
If there are any complicating factors that prevent you from getting the compensation you need and deserve after a collision, a lawyer can help. Personal injury attorneys are trained to prevent insurance companies from taking advantage of policyholders by denying them what they are legally entitled to. We also make sure that fault is properly assigned, and that no one is made to pay for the mistakes of another driver’s carelessness. After a collision, a lawyer can fight for you in many ways. Your lawyer will be able to:
- Communicate with the other driver’s insurance company
- Help you obtain your medical records and other proof of your injuries
- Gather the evidence needed to support your claim
- Negotiate with insurance companies
- Fully calculate your damages so you can be fairly compensated
- Understand all local and federal traffic and insurance laws
- Make sure all legal steps are taken within deadlines (called statutes of limitations)
- Help you get compensation for financial losses like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, vehicle damage, and other associated expenses
If you have been hurt in a collision caused by another driver and suffered injuries, we may be able to help you recover financially. Reach out to The Mejia Law Firm in Houston, TX to set up a free consultation. We’ll be able to advise you on the best way to proceed following an accident caused by another driver’s negligence.
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