Failing to take immediate action at the accident scene to insure your rights
After an accident you are usually shocked and confused and it is hard to make decisions. However, there are certain steps you should take immediately after the accident in order to protect yourself. Failure to do this could have serious consequences for your case. Remember that the following advice can apply to any type of injury case, not just automobile accidents.
When you have an auto accident. Stop your vehicle, but do not block traffic. Texas law prohibits you from leaving the scene of an accident, even if it is minor, until you first stop and see if there are damages or injuries. Remember to protect yourself. Do not immediately jump out of your car as you may be struck by oncoming traffic. If possible, move the vehicles out of the lanes of traffic. If you're unable to move the vehicles out of traffic, warn other cars by setting out flares, turning on your hazard lights, and opening the trunk and hood of your car and any other vehicles involved.
Assist anyone is been injured, but, if someone has a possible spinal injury, do not move them any more than absolutely necessary to get them out of immediate danger. Get the name, date of birth, phone number, address, driver's license number, license plate number and all other information of anyone else involved in the accident, including witnesses.
Do not argue with the other driver. Do not accuse anyone of being at fault, and do not admit fault. Stay calm. Remember that anything you say he can be used against you later. Do not discuss the accident with the other driver.
Call the police to come and complete an accident report. If it is an emergency, you can dial 911. If it is not an emergency, dial 311. Many times the other driver will try to talk you out of contacting the police. This is a mistake. Sometimes, the police will not come to the scene of a minor accident, but this is a decision you should let the police make. Be sure and call the police anyway, any time you are in an accident.
If an officer arrives at the scene, request that they make a written ask a report and ask them to give you the incident number for the accident so that you can get to report later, usually from the Texas Department of Public Safety records bureau. Get all information from the officer including his name and badge number and be sure and find out which police agency he is from (sheriff department, police department, Texas Department of Public Safety, etc.).
The police report should be available for you to pick up a few days after the wreck. Be sure and ask the officer where you can obtain the report. If you have an attorney, they will often get this report for you but if they do not, be sure and get it yourself. Once you get the report, review it very carefully to make sure all the details are correct. If there is a mistake in the report, contact the investigating officer and ask if they will be willing to correct the report. They will often do this if you notify them soon after the accident. Do not wait too long to request this correction, because the officer's memory of the accident will fade over time and he or she may be unwilling to change his report later.
If you were injured somehow other than in an automobile accident, for instance in place of business, demand to speak to the manager and insist that they make a written accident report. Also request that any video evidence, such as a security camera tape, that may show the accident be preserved. Preserving such evidence may be crucial to proving your case later
Be sure and write down the names, addresses phone numbers and license plate numbers of all witnesses to the accident, as well as all the parties involved. Pictures are very valuable in proving what happened at an accident scene. If you happen to have a cell phone that will take photographs, use it. If you do not have such a cell phone, it is a good idea to buy a cheap disposable camera to keep in the glove box of your vehicle, and use it to document any accidents.
Remember to be safe, watching out for oncoming traffic. Take pictures of all the involved vehicles from different angles. Also photograph the street, including any stop signs and traffic signals. Also photograph skid marks and any other physical objects that may been damaged, such as telephone poles and guard rails. If possible, photograph the other drivers, witnesses and passengers. If you have been injured in are unable to take photos, please ask someone else to do it for you. If your cell phone is able to record video, that is useful as well in showing what happened at the scene.
It is a good idea to keep a pen and paper in the glove box of your vehicle. After an accident always exchange all your information with the other parties and get as much information as you can from the other persons, including their insurance information.
Do not make any statements regarding the accident except to the police or to emergency personnel such as EMS or fire department paramedics. If you feel unsafe or threatened at the scene of an accident, stay in your car with the doors locked until the police arrive.