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“What is someone supposed to do when they are involved in a car crash?” This is a common question that we are asked at dinner parties or other informal gatherings when we tell people that we are personal injury lawyers. We are happy to answer this question during these informal discussions. But we thought it would be a good idea to try to give our answer in a forum where more than a couple people would “hear” it.
The first thing to know is that doing nothing is not an option. The State of Texas has imposed obligations on every person who is involved in a car crash. If you do not fulfill these obligations you could be subject to criminal sanctions.
First and foremost, you must stop and make sure that nobody is hurt. If there are injuries then you need to help arrange for transportation to the nearest hospital or medical facility including possibly using your own vehicle if the injured person requests it.
Secondarily you need to provide the following information: your name, address, vehicle registration number and name of your liability insurer.
Beyond these legal requirements the actions you take immediately after a car crash can either help or hurt your ability to recover for the full extent of your damages. In order to maximize your ability to recover for your damages you need to do the following:
If the car crash is severe enough a police officer will compile their own report. In the situation in which an officer does not write up their own report you need to report the crash yourself. You must provide a written report of the crash within 10 days of the crash.
Please be careful what you put in this report. You need to be truthful, but the way in which you describe a crash might end up complicating future claims against the other driver. This is one of those situation where it would be a great idea for you to consult with an experienced person injury lawyer before you complete your written report.
Your description of the crash and your injuries to any medical provider will be reflected in their reports. Sometimes claims adjusters will rely on these descriptions to deny your claim.
You pay for insurance, so use it when you have a crash! You have to report the crash in a timely manner in order for your insurance company to agree that the crash was covered. But, just like when you make a report to a police department, you need to make sure that what you tell them does not make the claims process more difficult than it needs to be. This is another one of those situations where it would be a great idea for you to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you contact them.
The relationship you have with your insurance company is one that requires them to treat you in a way that is different than the way they would treat someone making a claim against you. However, this does not meant that they will be nice to you. Your best opportunity to keep control of this relationship is at the very beginning of the claim process. An experienced lawyer can help you manage this relationship while avoiding the errors that frequently cost people thousands of dollars when they provide the wrong information at the wrong time, provide unnecessary information or fail to understand the insurer’s reasons for seeking particular information.
Delay in seeking treatment for your injuries will make it difficult for you or a lawyer to convince a claims adjuster that you were actually injured in this car crash. Seek medical treatment at the earliest possible time to you are able to document all the injuries that are directly related to your car crash.
There are so many traps that one might step in when dealing with a car crash that is not their fault. Claims adjusters are paid to pay the least amount of money possible in all the claims they handle. They will do their best to settle your claim for as little as you will accept. Time is on their side and that means that they will do their best to wear down any person attempting to handle their own claim.
Adjusters do not feel as exposed when they are dealing with a person who is not an attorney and, in most cases, are not equipped to prove the case in court. Hiring an seasoned car crash lawyer will begin the process of assuring the claims adjuster that your case is a serious case an should be taken seriously.
The personal injury attorneys at Powers Taylor LLP have the training and experience to help you convince claims adjuster that they need to take your case seriously.