Do You Know What to Do If You’re in a Car Accident?

by Dallas car accident injury attorney, Tim O’Hare

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Nobody woke up this morning planning to be in a car accident today, yet every day on Texas roads, one reportable car accident occurs about every 59 seconds, according to TXDOT. In 2017, 254,853 people were injured in car accidents (one injury every two minutes and four seconds) and 3,794 people lost their lives (one every two hours and 21 minutes) on Texas roads.

Though the fatality rate on Texas roadways decreased slightly (2.86 percent) from 2016 to 2017, even one death is one too many. Each of us can do our part to make Texas roads more safe by following driving laws, and eliminating factors such as distracted driving and drunk driving.

But even so, the reality is that every driver, no matter how experienced, should always be prepared for an accident to happen. If you are involved in a car accident, do you know what to do? Being prepared in the event of a car wreck can certainly save you some headache, but it may even mean the difference between life and death.

Here are nine steps to take if you are involved in a car accident. Take time to review these steps with every driver in your household.

Turn your car engine off and turn on hazard lights. Leaving your car running increases chances of a fire sparking. Hazard lights should be used to warn other drivers. If available, place caution triangles or set out flares to warn oncoming traffic, especially at night.

Do not leave the scene of the accident. Stay calm and avoid arguing with or accusing anyone else who was involved in the accident. It’s also important that you not make any admission of blame in the accident. If possible, move your vehicle to the shoulder of the road to get it out of the way of oncoming traffic. Get all passengers out of the vehicle and stand as far off the roadway as possible.

Call 9-11. Report any injuries immediately and ask for a law enforcement officer and EMT to come to the scene. When a law enforcement officer arrives, get the officer’s name, badge number, police station address and phone number. Ask how you can get a copy of the accident report and when the report will be filed.

Seek Medical Attention. If you are injured, seek prompt medical attention. Call a reputable personal injury lawyer before speaking with any insurance company representatives.

Exchange information. After an accident, exchange name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver’s license number and license plate number with any other drivers involved in the accident. Be sure to note the relationship between the individual driving and the owner of the vehicle if their names don’t match. Also, get complete contact info from any witnesses who saw the collision.

Photograph and document the accident. Make note of the year, make, model and color of all cars involved in the collisions. Use your camera to document any damage to all vehicles, as well as position of cars and context of the accident.

Do not accept offers to settle on the spot. Individuals who are not carrying car insurance or have another reason to avoid legal trouble may attempt to get you to settle by offering cash payment on the scene. Do not accept any settlements on the scene as you may be liable for the damages to your car later on.

Always carry an emergency kit in your car. This kit should include a pen and paper for taking notes, a disposable camera if you don’t have your cell phone and information about medical allergies or medical conditions that emergency responders may need to know about. A flashlight, first aid kit, and caution triangles are also important items to keep in your emergency kit.

Keep a list of contact numbers in your phone and in your car. Designate an ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact in your phone. Enter your emergency contact into your phone book with ICE before his or her name.

If you have been seriously injured or lost a family member in a car accident, contact  The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare to speak with a Dallas car accident attorney today.

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