What to do when you’re in a car accident

by Tim O’Hare

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One reportable car crash occurred every 83 seconds on Texas roadways last year. There were 57,919 serious injury crashes on Texas roadways. There was not a single day last year free of traffic fatalities.

These statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation are alarming. Taking steps to prevent car accidents by eliminating contributing factors such as drunk driving and distracted driving is most important. However, the reality is that accidents still happen.

Do you know what to do if you are involved in an accident? Being prepared in the event of an accident may save you time, headache and could even prevent further injury or death. Take time now to review what you should do if you are involved in a car accident. If you have teenage drivers, take time to teach this information to them, as well.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Get contact information of any witnesses of the accident.
  • File an accident report. If a law enforcement officer does not come to the scene of your accident, file an accident report at a local police station.
  • 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 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. Click here for accident checklist and emergency contact information forms you can print out and keep in your vehicle. 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 personal injury attorney.

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