According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 18,880 people sustained serious car accident injuries in 2022. Over 500 crashes classified as ‘serious’ occurred in or around San Antonio, a lot of them involving drunk driving, distracted driving, and other negligent conduct. Many of the victims likely had to file a personal injury claim to recoup their economic damages and be compensated for non-economic ones.
If you’re in a serious accident yourself, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. However, knowing the right steps to take after a collision is crucial. Not only can these measures protect your well-being, but they can also have significant legal and financial implications.
At the Villarreal & Begum, LAW GUNS, our experienced lawyers have helped many automobile accident victims protect their rights and obtain the maximum compensation they deserve. In this blog, we’ll take you through the essential steps to follow after a car accident in San Antonio. Remember, accidents can happen at any time, and knowing what to do afterward can make a significant difference.
Immediate Actions To Take After a Car Accident
After a traffic accident, ensuring everyone’s safety is the top priority. Check yourself and any passengers for injuries and, if possible, move to a safe location away from oncoming traffic. Turn on hazard lights to alert other drivers. If anyone is seriously injured, call 911.
While you’re waiting for help to arrive, take the following steps:
- Call the San Antonio Police: Having an official police report can be crucial for insurance claims and any potential legal actions. When law enforcement arrives, provide them with a detailed and accurate account of what happened but avoid speculating or accepting blame.
- Exchange Information: While waiting for the police, exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Obtain their name, contact information, driver’s license number, license plate number, and insurance details. Be cooperative and avoid discussing fault or responsibility at this stage.
- Gather Evidence: If you can do so safely, document the accident scene by taking photographs from various angles. Capture the positions of the vehicles, any visible damages, road conditions, traffic signals, and any contributing factors.
Remember- it’s crucial to remain calm and avoid making statements that may be used against you later on. Be careful when discussing the accident with the negligent party and never admit fault, even if you believe you might be partially responsible.
Seeking Medical Attention and Documenting Injuries After an Auto Accident
Even if you feel fine immediately after the accident, seek a medical evaluation from a healthcare professional. Not all injuries are immediately apparent, and some symptoms may take time to manifest. Adrenaline and shock can mask pain and discomfort, leading you to overlook potentially serious injuries.
When you see a doctor, be sure to provide a detailed account of what happened and any symptoms you are experiencing. The medical professional will conduct a thorough examination, order necessary tests, and provide appropriate treatment based on their findings. Always follow through with all prescribed treatments and attend all follow-up appointments. If you don’t, insurance adjusters or the responsible party could use it against you in a personal injury lawsuit.
Assessing Property Damage
Regardless of how minor or severe the damage appears, get your car inspected by a reputable and qualified mechanic. A thorough evaluation will provide an accurate assessment of the damage and the necessary repairs.
During the assessment, the mechanic will carefully inspect both the visible and underlying damage to your vehicle. They will provide a detailed report outlining the necessary repairs and estimated costs. This report will be vital when filing your property damage claim with the insurance company.
In Texas, property damage claims are typically handled through the at-fault driver’s property damage liability insurance. If the other driver is at fault for the accident, their insurance carrier should cover the costs of repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle. If you were at fault, your own collision coverage would come into play if you have it on your policy.
Understanding Texas Car Accident Laws
Texas follows a fault-based system when it comes to motor vehicle accidents, which means the party at fault must compensate the other party for their injuries and property damage. The at-fault driver’s insurance company typically covers these costs. If their coverage is insufficient or if there is a dispute over liability, the injured party may file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation directly from the negligent driver.
It is important to note the following:
- Texas applies the “modified comparative negligence” rule. This means that if you are found to be partially responsible for the accident, your compensation may be reduced according to your percentage of fault. However, if you are found to be 51% or more at fault, you may not be eligible to recover any damages from the other party.
- In Texas, there are specific reporting requirements and timelines after a car accident. If the accident resulted in injury, death, or property damage exceeding $1,000, the involved parties must report the accident to the local police or the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) within ten days.
What if the Driver is Uninsured and Underinsured?
Getting into a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver can be a challenging situation since the standard insurance coverage isn’t available. However, Texas law does provide some options for compensation in such cases.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM): Uninsured motorist coverage is an optional policy you can purchase as part of your own car insurance. If you have UM coverage, your insurance company will step in to compensate you for bodily injury and property damage caused by an uninsured driver. This coverage can also apply in hit-and-run accidents where the at-fault party cannot be identified.
- Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM): Underinsured motorist coverage works similarly to uninsured motorist coverage but applies when the at-fault driver’s insurance policy does not have sufficient coverage to fully compensate you for your damages. If your UIM coverage limit exceeds the at-fault driver’s policy limit, you can file an accident claim with your insurance company for the difference in damages.
- Filing a Lawsuit: If you don’t have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, or if your damages exceed the coverage limits, you may have the option to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver personally.
Hiring a San Antonio Car Accident Attorney
While Texas law doesn’t require you to hire legal representation after a car accident, there are several compelling reasons for doing so.
- Legal Expertise: Personal injury lawyers in San Antonio have extensive knowledge and experience in handling various types of car accident cases, which can be invaluable when dealing with a claim.
- Protecting Your Rights: Insurance companies may try to minimize their liability and offer settlements that do not adequately compensate you for your injuries and damages. An experienced car accident lawyer will advocate for your rights and seek to ensure you receive fair compensation for your losses.
- Gathering Evidence: An experienced San Antonio accident attorney knows what evidence is essential to support your claim. They can conduct a thorough investigation, obtain accident reports, gather witness statements, collect medical bills and auto repair receipts, and secure any other evidence needed to strengthen your case.
- Assessing Damages: Determining the full extent of your damages can be difficult, especially when considering long-term medical costs and lost wages. An experienced car accident attorney can accurately assess your damages and calculate a fair settlement amount.
- Negotiation Skills: Personal injury attorneys are skilled negotiators and can handle discussions with insurance companies on your behalf. They know how to navigate tactics used by insurance adjusters and work to reach a settlement that adequately compensates you.
- Litigation Experience: If your case requires going to court, a San Antonio accident attorney can represent you during the litigation process. They can present your case effectively, cross-examine witnesses, and argue on your behalf to maximize your chances of a successful outcome.
Get a Free Consultation From a San Antonio Car Accident Lawyer Today
Experiencing a car accident can be traumatic, but knowing the right steps to take can make all the difference. From ensuring immediate safety and contacting the police to gathering evidence and seeking medical attention, each action plays a critical role in protecting your well-being and legal rights.
At the Villarreal & Begum, LAW GUNS, we will fight to protect your rights, ensure you receive fair compensation, and ease the burden on your shoulders. Let our law firm handle the legal complexities while you focus on healing and rebuilding. Your road to recovery starts with a single call. For more information or to schedule a free initial consultation, call (210) 800-0000 or contact us online today.