If you're in an accident, you should stay at the scene. If you are hurt, call for medical assistance. You should call the police so they can investigate the collision. Make sure you get the contact information and insurance information of others involved in the collision. You should also get the name, address and phone number of any witnesses. Notify your insurance company right away just in case you need to make a claim under your insurance policy. Finally, call an attorney if you believe someone else is at fault for the collision.
Car/Truck Accident FAQs
What do I do if I'm in an accident?
Should I notify the insurance company of the accident?
You should notify your insurance company that you have been in an accident. Your insurance policy obligates you to cooperate with your insurance company. However, avoid making statements about the liability of the accident, or who was at fault, and only relate the facts of the accident as they have occurred. Consult a personal injury attorney before providing any other information to the insurance company.
Should I give the insurance company a recorded statement?
The short answer is no. While you are obligated to cooperate with your own insurance company, in most instances this does not require you to give a recorded statement. More importantly, you have no obligation to give a recorded statement to insurance company for the person who injured you. In fact, you should not give a recorded statement until you have consulted with an experienced personal injury attorney. The insurance company for the person who caused the accident is trying to get information to defend your claim, not help you.
You must keep in mind that an insurance adjuster is trained to ask questions in a way that may expose you to liability or mislead you as to intent or the information actually contained in the question. Insurance adjusters are trained to save money for the company, and if they can do that by reducing liability or establishing that your medical claims are unfounded, they may not have to pay for the full extent of your injuries.
Should I notify the other driver's insurance company of the accident?
While the end goal is to have the liable insurance company pay for damages incurred in the car wreck, it may be unwise for you to contact the other driver's insurance company directly. The first thing they will want to do is take your recorded statement. As previously stated, adjusters are very good at getting admissions of liability whether you realize it or not, and anything you say to an adjuster can later be used against you in your case. Further, soon after the accident, you probably do not have a full understanding of the extent of your injuries and the adjuster may try to get you to make innocent statements, which, when taken out of context, will be used to pay you less for your claim. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney before you talk with the other driver's insurance company.
What do I do if the other driver's insurance company contacts me?
If the other driver's insurance company contacts you, you are in no way obligated to speak to them. Give them your attorney's name and phone number, and advise them to speak directly to your attorney. It's important not to provide any information to the other insurance company, as they may try to lead you into saying something that clouds liability or makes your case otherwise difficult to pursue. The best tactic is to avoid speaking to them altogether, and let your attorney handle the communications.
What do I do if the other driver and insurance company denies liability?
Liability is the easiest thing for insurance companies to dispute to avoid paying on a claim altogether, so it's not uncommon for an insurance company to dispute liability even if their driver is liable. It then becomes your job to prove liability. If the police report is clear and comprehensive, it alone may be enough to prove liability. However, if liability isn't clear from the police report, you will find that the insurance company will not offer you the full value for your case until you get an experienced personal injury lawyer to assist you.
How do I get my police report?
Depending on the locality, you can obtain your police report directly from the police department that investigated the accident or they can tell you how to obtain it. It's faster for you to obtain your own police report, but if you are unable to do so, your personal injury attorney can get a copy of it for you. In Texas, police reports are usually completed and available within seven to fourteen days of the collision and they can be purchased online at the Texas Department of Transporation website by clicking here.
Why do I need a police report?
Your attorney needs a copy of your police report for several reasons: to get information about the other driver involved in the accident; to get information about the driver's insurance company; and to see what the police have recorded about how the accident occurred. If the police report is inaccurate, it's important to get it corrected as quickly as possible to avoid clouding the facts and casting any questions on liability.
I need my car to get fixed! How do I get it repaired?
Depending on the insurance you carry, you may simply be able to contact your own insurance company about repairing your car. If you have the right coverage, your insurance will tell you where to take your car, and will pay for the repairs. Your insurance company then seeks repayment from the liable insurance company. If you don't have the right coverage, you may need to work with the liable insurance company to get your car repaired, or pay for the repairs out-of-pocket and then seek to recover the amount from the responsible party.
What do I do with the appraisal?
When you take your car to an auto-body shop for repairs, the shop will prepare an appraisal, estimating the amount of damage to your car and how much it will cost to repair. An appraisal is an important document for many reasons. For one thing, the damage to the car as reported in the appraisal can either back up or disagree with your story of how the accident occurred. Additionally, insurance companies weigh the cost of repairing your car, as related in the appraisal, to the value of your car, to determine whether it's worthwhile to repair your car. Give a copy of your appraisal to your personal injury attorney, and you may also need to provide a copy to the insurance company that is paying for the repairs to your car.
The insurance company says my car is totaled. What does that mean?
When an insurance company says your car is totaled, that means that your appraisal indicates that it will cost more to repair your car than your car is worth. In this case, the insurance company typically writes you a check for the value of your car, plus any taxes and licensing fees, and you turn the title of your car over to the insurance company.
You are then responsible for paying off your car loan, if there is one, and you're left paying for any difference between the car's value and the loan amount out-of-pocket, unless you have Gap insurance. You can keep any excess money left over after your loan is paid off, but you no longer have a car.
I need a car to drive while my car is repaired. What do I do?
If your car is being repaired, the liable insurance company should provide you with a rental car to drive while the repairs are made. However, this can be quite a hassle if insurance companies are disputing liability, or if they require time to authorize a rental. If you have rental car coverage with your own insurance company, contact your company about getting a rental car and let them seek reimbursement from the liable insurance provider.
I've been injured in a car accident - who pays for my medical bills?
Ideally, the liable insurance company would pay for your medical bills. However, sometimes insurers dispute liability, and it can be a hassle to get an insurance provider to pay your bills up front, so it may be a wise decision to get your health insurance to pay your medical bills and seek reimbursement from the auto insurance company as part of the settlement. If you do not have health , we may be able to get you medical treatment and payment for the treatment will be deferred until your case is resolved.
Help! The insurance company is arguing about my injuries. What do I do?
Insurance companies exist to make money. It's their goal to pay you the least amount possible for your claim. When you hire an experienced accident injury attorney to prosecute your Texas car accident case, you work with your attorney to establish the extent of your injuries. This is done through your medical records and testimony from your doctors and other healthcare professionals who treat you.
What happens if a doctor says I'll never fully recover from my car accident?
Unfortunately, sometimes people are injured in ways that they can never fully recover from. You may live with pain or other limitations from your car accident for the rest of your life. Your personal injury attorney's job is to make sure that the insurance company understands that your quality of life is suffering, and get you the compensation you deserve for your limitations and injuries. Especially if the accident prevents you from engaging in normal activities that you enjoy, or even prevents you from returning to work or forces you to seek new employment, you may be eligible for a larger recovery.
You should undergo medical treatment until your doctor declares that you are at a medical end result; which basically means that you're as well as you're going to be, and any existing pain or lingering medical issues are lifelong concerns. At that point, we'll pursue your personal injury case with the understanding that you're fully treated, and take any remaining limitations or medical issues into consideration when valuing your case and issuing a demand to the liable insurer.
I've had to take time off work because of my car wreck injuries. Can I get reimbursed for that?
Absolutely! You shouldn't have to use your sick time and benefits to pay for someone else's mistake. If the other driver is liable for your accident, you should be able to get lost wages reimbursed for any time you missed due to doctor's appointments or medical restrictions. Document these instances carefully, and you will need documentation from your employer in the form of time sheet reports, pay stubs or other company documentation indicating that you have lost wages.
How do I make a claim if I was the passenger in a car?
If you're a passenger in a car involved in a car accident, you are still eligible to make a claim. In most cases, it works the same as if you were the driver of the vehicle. You should still seek medical treatment, document your medical expenses and contact a personal injury attorney about pursuing your car wreck case.
Can I still make a claim if I'm a passenger in the car whose driver is at-fault?
Even if you're a passenger in the liable party's car, you can still file a claim for a personal injury. The liable party's insurance coverage will be liable for your losses, regardless of whether you were a passenger in their insured's car or in the other driver's vehicle. However, if you are involved in an accident where multiple people are making a personal injury claim, your medical expense recovery may be limited based on the number of people claiming injuries and the policy limits. Most insurance policies stipulate a limit of X dollars per person, and X dollars per accident; if the injuries of the people involved exceed the per-accident maximum, someone won't get fully reimbursed for damages.
How do I make a claim if the driver leaves the scene?
If the driver leaves the scene, you can still make a personal injury claim. Try to get the license plate number and make and model of the vehicle. If you can get that information, police may be able to run the license plates and track down the driver. If you're unable to get that information and cannot identify the driver involved in your accident, you may still be able to make a claim if you carry Uninsured Motorists' insurance.
What are the minimum insurance requirements in Texas?
In Texas, the minimum insurance coverage is 30/60/25. This means that drivers are required to carry $30,000 in individual medical liability insurance, with a total of $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 in property damage insurance. However, many people choose to carry insurance with higher limits in the event that they're involved in a serious accident. Even though the law requires everyone operating a vehicle in Texas to carry liability insurance, some people do not carry it. In fact, a little over 8% of all people driving in Texas are uninsured. If you are involved in an accident with one of those people, you may have no recourse unless you carry an Uninsured Motorist policy.
What can I do if the driver doesn't have insurance?
If the driver doesn't have insurance but you carry Uninsured Motorist's insurance, you can make a claim against your own UM policy. However, if you don't have UM insurance, your only recourse is to sue the driver. Most people who don't carry car insurance don't have much in the way of assets, though, so it's unlikely you'll make a recovery if you must resort to suing an uninsured driver.