Car Accident Checklist
Many Texans are involved in automobile collisions every year. Although most people are aware of the obvious steps to take immediately following an accident (assist the injured, call the police, etc.) we have found they may be too upset to think of many of the less obvious steps which also should be taken.
If you or a loved one have been involved or injured in an accident in Texas, contact the experienced Dallas car accident lawyers at Kraft & Associates, P.C., today for a free case evaluation and assistance.
If you are involved in an automobile collision you should:
- Stop immediately, but do not block traffic. Failure to stop after a collision can result in criminal penalties. Turn off your ignition to guard against fire. Stay at the scene of the accident.
- Warn oncoming automobiles of any traffic hazards. At night, leave your lights on or set out traffic flares if possible. You may be liable for damages to approaching drivers unless they are properly warned.
- Assist anyone who may be injured. Stop any bleeding. Provide other first aid if you can. Call for an ambulance if necessary. Do not move a seriously injured person unless absolutely necessary because movement can increase injuries.
- Telephone the police and cooperate fully with the investigating officers. If you are involved in a hit-and-run collision, it is especially important that you notify the police immediately. Write down the names and badge numbers of all investigating officers. Be sure to notice whether the officer is a city police officer (and which city) or a Department of Public Safety officer.
- If you believe the driver of the other vehicle may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, tell this to the investigating police officer.
- Make written notes of the full names, addresses, home phone numbers, work phone numbers and license plate numbers of all parties involved, including any witnesses to the collision. Also note the date and time of the collision, and the make and model of all vehicles involved. Do not trust your memory. In such a stressful situation, you may not remember important facts. You should always carry a pen and paper in your car.
- Measure skid marks and step off distances such as from the curb to the point of impact. If your vehicle is not blocking traffic or creating the potential for another accident, do not move it or any accident debris until you are instructed to do so by the investigating police officer.
- Make a rough drawing of the scene of the collision, showing the position of all vehicles and any other details you think may be important.
- Exchange automobile insurance information with the other parties. The drivers involved must show their driver’s licenses to each other. Copy all information from the other driver’s license.
- Make notes of any statements made by the driver or occupants of the other vehicles as to how the collision occurred.
- Before you allow a tow truck driver to pick up your car, be sure to ask the driver how much it will cost and tell the driver where to take your car. Get the name, address and telephone number of the driver and the towing company.
- Phone your lawyer as soon as possible and follow your lawyer’s advice. In Texas, a lawsuit for damages arising from an automobile collision must be filed within two years from the date of the collision. However, the sooner your lawyer becomes involved in the matter, the better he or she can advise you and protect your rights.
- Do not give statements to anyone other than the police officers without first consulting with your lawyer.
- Report the collision to your insurance agent or insurance company as soon as possible.
- Take photographs of any damage to your car and of any injuries to yourself.
- See your doctor if there is any chance you may be injured. Serious injuries do not always cause immediate pain.
- Report the collision to the Texas Department of Public Safety. You must do so 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.
- Even if you think you may have been at fault in the collision you should not make any statements admitting fault. You may discover later that the other driver was equally at fault, or more so. Statements you make while emotionally upset may be misunderstood or misquoted later by other parties or bystanders. Spectators at the scene of a collision may be curious. It is best to say nothing at all regarding the cause of the collision.
Keep calm, don’t argue, don’t accuse anyone and don’t admit fault.
Because of the need for advice under these stressful circumstances, our law firm has prepared a brochure that contains an abbreviated version of the above instructions for those involved in automobile collisions. You can download the brochure here: Auto Accident Brochure
Tips on Avoiding Car Accidents
Please take a moment to review the following driving tips. They may help you avoid automobile accidents.
- Switch on your headlights before sunset. Many accidents occur after the sun has set but before night has fallen. To make your car more noticeable to other drivers, switch on your headlights at least one-half hour before sunset. Many drivers fail to do this because they do not see any better with their lights on. However, the point of switching on your lights is not to see better, but to be seen.
- Be careful on wet roads. When roads are wet, your car can fall victim to “hydroplaning” — skidding on water. If this happens, you can lose control of your car just as badly as if you were on ice. Do not slam on your brakes, because that can cause an even more severe skid. Instead, slowly bring your car to a halt turning the steering wheel in the direction the rear end of the car is skidding.
- Take plenty of breaks on long trips. It is very easy to fall asleep when you are driving long distances, and that can be fatal. Be sure to stop every two hours or each 100 miles and take a break. Heavy meals can make you drowsy, so eat light snacks along the way and wait until you are finished driving to eat dinner.
- Speed limits can vary. If you are on a road with a speed limit of fifty-five miles per hour, for example, and the weather is wet and foggy, you must slow down. The top speed you should drive under those conditions may be only twenty-five or thirty miles per hour. If you cause an accident because you are driving faster than that, even though the posted speed limit is fifty-five miles per hour, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.
- Check the rear view mirror if you stop suddenly. If someone slams into the rear end of your car at high speed, the accident may be all their fault, but the injuries will be all yours. If you are forced to stop suddenly, check your rear view mirror. You may have just enough time to steer clear of what is coming up behind you.
- Wear your seat belts at all times. In spite of all precautions you take, accidents can still occur. To reduce injuries in a collision, never drive or ride in a car without first buckling your seat belt. Be certain all others in your car have their seat belts fastened also. Infants and young children should always ride in child safety seats.