The following contains general information only and is not intended as specific legal advice.
What To Do In Case Of An Automobile Accident
STOP! Do not leave the scene. If your car is creating a safety hazard or if you are concerned with your personal safety, move to a safer place.
RENDER AID! If anyone is injured, call an ambulance.
CALL THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY and follow their instructions. In minor accidents, the police may instruct you to exchange information with the other driver(s) and then contact your insurance company.
DO NOT DISCLOSE THE LIMITS OF YOUR INSURANCE POLICY.
DO NOT ADMIT FAULT.
GATHER INFORMATION – write it down. Do not trust your memory. Do not guess – be specific.
a. Measure skid marks.
b. Step off distances.
c. Obtain names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses.
d. Take pictures, if possible.
GIVE THE OTHER DRIVER A CARD – complete with your name and insurance (policy) number. If the police will not allow you to exchange information with the other driver(s), ask the officer to assist you by giving the information to the other driver(s). Drivers are required by law to exhibit their driver’s license to each other.
IF I AM IN AN ACCIDENT, DO I HAVE TO SPEAK TO THE OTHER SIDE’S INSURANCE COMPANY?
No. If you are involved in an accident and the other person has insurance and reports it to his insurance company, it is quite likely that the insurance company will promptly contact you, by telephone or in person.
You do not have to speak to them, and frequently it is wise to speak to your LegalShield attorney first. The LegalShield attorney can help you understand how insurance companies process claims, so you will know what to expect. The attorney can also help evaluate your injury and/or damage claims and inform you of your right to compensation for your losses. If you encounter problems in dealing with the insurance company, you may want to consider using an attorney to handle the claim.
CONSULT YOUR LegalShield SERVICES ATTORNEY IMMEDIATELY.
The sooner your attorney is brought into the matter, the better he/she can advise you and protect your rights. Your LegalShield attorney can determine what statements need to be taken from the witnesses and advise you what actions need to be taken to insure that the true facts are preserved. Get your lawyer’s advice before giving any interviews or statements to investigators or adjusters.
REPORT THE ACCIDENT TO THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY.
An accident report is required by law to be filed with the Department of Public Safety within ten days from the date of the accident if there is an injury, death, or total damages exceeding $500.00. An official form is available from the police, Sheriff’s Department, Highway Patrol, or Texas Department of Public Safety.
REVIEW YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE.
There could be an issue with the other driver’s coverage or a dispute over liability that could delay resolution of your claim. Your policy may have coverage for rental car, collision/comprehensive, uninsured/underinsured motorist and personal injury protection.
DO PEOPLE ALWAYS NEED A LAWYER FOR ALL ACCIDENTS?
No. Where the injury is slight, the damages are very minor, and the circumstances that caused the injury are unlikely to happen again, it may not make sense to retain an attorney. However, as a LegalShield member, you should use your consultation benefits to assist you.
AS “ACCIDENTS HAPPEN” WHY ARE LAWYERS INVOLVED?
Many accidents “don’t just happen” on their own. They result from someone’s carelessness or recklessness, hazardous conditions, defective products, or other dangerous circumstances. Very often, accidents cause injury to people, damage property and business interests, and create expenses that innocent parties have to pay, even though it was not their fault. When the person responsible for the “accident” refuses to take full and prompt responsibility for it, and pay you everything you are entitled to “make you whole,” a lawyer’s services are essential to recover what the law allows. In many cases, a lawyer’s involvement may cause the person or firm responsible for the accident to take corrective action to prevent accidents in the future and avoid further unnecessary injuries and damage to property. For example, if a bus company allows its drivers to speed, or does not comply with safety standards, when a lawyer appears on the scene, the bus company may crack down on speeding, install appropriate safety equipment and properly maintain its busses.