What should you do after a car accident? Ideally, you’ll know the right thing to do before it happens rather than try to work it out after the fact. Here’s a checklist for a car accident that you should follow whether it is a fender-bender or a literal crushing blow.
#1. Make Sure Everyone Is Safe
You can be hit with criminal charges if you don’t stop and render aid. Slowing down and looking at the crunched car isn’t good enough. You don’t get out of your legal obligation to help by waving at a pedestrian who is able to get up and yell at you, assuming that this means that they are all right. You are legally required to stop and assess everyone’s injuries. Offer to call 911, and do so if asked. Don’t be afraid to call for an ambulance if you think you or someone else is severely injured. The Emergency Room is legally required to render life-saving aid, regardless of your ability to pay.
Once you’ve eliminated the possibility of life-threatening injuries, you are required to take reasonable steps to minimize the risk to others. Try to put out the fires, if you can, or pull others to safety. Move the wrecked cars from the path of others or set flares and warning lights to minimize the risk that others hit the stalled cars. If you hit an animal, stay back, because it could attack you.
#2. Gather the Necessary Information
Before you call a Houston auto accident lawyers, gather as much relevant information as possible. Ideally, you’ll know how to do this the moment you’ve recovered from the initial shock of the car accident. For example, you should take pictures of the accident scene once everyone is safe. Take pictures of all cars involved from every angle. You have no right to privacy when you’ve invaded other’s space with your vehicle. Take pictures of the cars that stop to take a look and people who render aid, since this information can help you track these witnesses down later. If you have a dash camera, continue recording what others say and do after the accident, and preserve the video and / or still images. Find out later how to make copies of these digital files so you can share them with your attorney.
Know that everyone involved is legally required to share their contact information. For example, they are legally obligated to give you their insurance information. It is not unreasonable to ask to see their driver’s license and take a picture of it or write their contact information down.
#3. Don’t Leave Until You’re Done
Don’t leave until after the police say you can go, if the police were called. This ensures that you can’t be charged with fleeing the scene. This also allows you to get the name and badge number of any police called to the scene.
#4. Minimize Your Liability
Don’t apologize to the other person. This can wrongly be taken as an omission of guilt. Calmly share legally required information with police like your name and the bare facts regarding what happened. Angrily ranting about how upset you are and accusing the other person of various crimes won’t help you make your case, though calmly mentioning concerns about their balance and asking that they be assessed for either a concussion or sobriety may help your case. Provide a copy of your driver’s license and insurance card when asked, whether by the other party or the police.