Car accidents can occur anywhere - and when you least expect it. You may be on your way to work, picking up your little ones from school or running errands when - all of a sudden - the unexpected happens.
According to the latest car accident statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than six million car crashes were reported to police during one recent year in the U.S.
Not all of these automobile accidents were major ones. Plenty of fender benders and more minor mishaps occurred. The NHTSA states that almost 75 percent of those accidents resulted in property damage only for vehicle owners.
Unfortunately, the remaining 25 percent of those accidents resulted in serious injuries for more than two million people. More than 32,000 accident victims died as a result of their injuries.
Whether you are involved in a minor fender bender or a more serious collision, what you do after a car accident is vitally important.
Your actions could not only influence your ability to get the compensation you deserve for your injuries and property damage, they can also have legal consequences - especially if you fail to stop at the scene.
What Does Texas Law Require You To Do After a Car Accident?
All drivers have certain, mandatory duties under Texas law. Failing to perform those duties could have serious consequences.
- Immediately stop your vehicle at the scene of the accident or as reasonably close to the accident as possible without obstructing traffic.
- Provide information to other drivers and to officers at the scene such as your driver's license number, your insurance and vehicle registration information.
- Render aid to anyone injured in the accident.
- Notify the local police department or sheriff's office that an accident has occurred.
For car accidents involving serious injuries, failing to perform the above duties - in other words, a hit-and-run accident - could result in felony charges being brought against you, with a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison. Even if there are no injuries or if property damage is minor, you could still face misdemeanor charges for leaving the scene.
Additionally, leaving the scene of an accident - even if it seems minor or you do not think you have been hurt - will likely harm your ability to obtain compensation for any injuries or damages you may later discover.
What You Need To Know If You Have Been in a Car Accident
Even a minor accident can end up resulting in serious damages. Some injuries may take several days before symptoms appear. For this reason, what you do in the immediate aftermath of a car crash is important. In addition to fulfilling your duties under Texas law, it is also important to do the following:
- Get information from other drivers, including their insurance information and how to contact them.
- Make note of any potential witnesses to the accident.
- Get medical treatment for your injuries - even if you think your injuries are minor.
- Report the accident to your insurance company.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, it is important to provide written notice to your insurance company to ensure your rights are protected.
When you notify your insurer in writing of your accident, make sure to include copies of any accident reports or other legal information you have.
If law enforcement did not investigate your car crash at the scene, you are required to submit a crash report within 10 days of the accident if the crash involved:
- Injuries or fatalities
- Estimated property damage of $1,000 or more
- A driver suspected of being intoxicated, unlicensed or uninsured
- A driver who leaves the scene of the accident.
Under the Texas Insurance Code, all drivers are required to carry car insurance that pays for the bodily injury or property damage they cause. This is called liability insurance. Unless they reject it in writing, they are also deemed to carry coverage for when crashes are caused by uninsured or underinsured motorists.
In the event you are involved in a hit-and-run accident or with a driver who does not have valid insurance, you may be able to file a claim for compensation for your injuries through your own insurance company.
How an Austin Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You
Car crashes can result in serious injuries, requiring ongoing medical treatment and preventing you from working or performing the duties at your job.
At Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP, our personal injury law firm can assist you with pursuing compensation for your damages through your insurance company or by filing a car accident lawsuit.
Unfortunately, insurance companies are in business to make money. They often attempt to either deny or undervalue claims. They can use any statements you make against you, and they may try to pressure you to settle for far less than what your case is worth.
Our Austin car accident lawyers have extensive experience in dealing with insurers. We can help you by negotiating a settlement with the insurance company that seeks maximum compensation for you.
In some cases, your interests may be better served by filing a car accident lawsuit for damages. Under the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, you have up to two years after a crash to file a personal injury lawsuit. So, even if your insurance company has denied your claim, there are still options available.
Before making any statements about your car crash or settling your claim, contact our personal injury law firm first.
If you or someone you care about has been injured in a car accident, contact us today to get started on your case. We serve clients in Austin and surrounding areas. We can provide you with a free consultation about your car accident claim.