If you are involved in an automobile accident, it is important you remember the following tips.
1. Stop Safely.
Stop “safely” at the scene of the accident. If your vehicle is not blocking traffic and you can safely do so, take a picture of the accident and do not move the debris off the accident unless instructed to do so by authorities. Move to the side of the road if possible to avoid blocking traffic. Turn off your car, and put on the hazard lights or any other warning sign you may have such as road flares. Note that you may be liable for damages to oncoming vehicles if you do not put up proper warning. Do not leave the scene of the accident as there are severe penalties for hit and run in Texas.
2. Provide Reasonable Assistance to the Injured.
Assist anyone who may be injured. Provide first aid if you can; however, do not move anyone that is badly injured as movement may cause even more injury unless there is danger of greater injury by leaving the person in the same position. Call for ambulance as necessary.
3. Exchange Information and Identify all Drivers and Witnesses.
Exchange auto insurance information with the other parties. Note that drivers involved in an automobile accident must show their driver’s licenses to each other. Copy driver’s license, registration and insurance information as well as license plate numbers. Identify all the drivers, and witnesses in the area. Write down the names, addresses, phone numbers and license plate numbers of any witness and write down their account of what they saw.
4. Call the Police.
Report accident to the police and ask the police to come to the scene. If you do not call the Police or the Police do not show up, note that you have 10 days to file a written report with the Police. If Police arrives at the scene, follow all instructions by the Police. Write down the names and badge numbers of the officer(s). Take care to note the specific department of the officer(s). (City, State, Department of Public Safety, etc.). If the other driver refuses to share information or if you suspect the other driver may have been intoxicated, be sure to share that information with the officer(s). Also, if you got a good account of the accident from an eye witness, be sure to pass that information to the officer as well. If the Police issues you a ticket and asks you to sign it, obey the officer’s instruction and sign the ticket.
5. Stick to the Facts.
Do not provide a running commentary about the accident in your interaction with the Police or with spectators. Stick to the facts, and stay calm. Do not admit fault or make any statements admitting fault. Even if you think you are at fault, it may be that the other driver was also at fault. Do not agree to pay for damages.
6. Take Pictures and Record Scene.
Use the camera feature on your cellular phone to take pictures of the accident and the scene. If you do not have a camera or cell phone, ask a reliable witness if you can use theirs. If your cell phone has a video functionality, also shoot a video of the vehicles, scene, and even the other drivers, showing the relative positions of the cars before and after the accident. Also take a close shot/pictures of the damage to the respective vehicles. If possible, also take a picture or video of the positions of the traffic lights and street signs. Also note or estimate the driving speeds of the respective drivers. Also take note of the daily weather and road conditions. You should also make a rough sketch of the accident.
7. Call your attorney.
Upon leaving the scene of the accident, call your lawyer. AnunobiLaw PLLC attorneys are experienced in handling auto accident cases and will evaluate your case and review your options with you.
8. Report Collision.
You should notify your insurance agent however, you should contact your attorney before contacting the insurance agent. Do not provide a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster until you have contacted your attorney.
You are required to report the collision to the Texas Department of Public Safety if there is an injury, death, or property damage in excess of $250.00. You may obtain a report form from any police or sheriff’s office or from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Chidi D. Anunobi, J.D., M.B.A.
1415 North Loop West
Houston, TX 77008