Car Accident, Now What?

You have been involved in a car accident.  Now what?

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE INVOLVED IN A MOTOR VEHICLE CRASH from Chapter 11 of the Texas Driver’s Handbook provides:

1. If you are operating a motor vehicle that is involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of a person, you must immediately stop your vehicle at the scene of the crash (or as close as possible to the scene of the crash) without obstructing traffic more than is necessary. If your vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the crash, you must immediately return to the scene of the crash. You must remain at the scene of the crash until you have complied with the following:

a. Give your name and address, the registration number of the vehicle you were driving, and the name of your motor vehicle liability insurer to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision;

b. Show your driver license (if requested and available) to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision; and

c. Provide any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangement for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation.

Failure to stop and comply with the above requirements is an offense punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for up to 5 years; confinement in the county jail for up to 1 year; a fine not to exceed $5,000; or both the fine and imprisonment or confinement. (This is for the 1st offense. Second and subsequent offenses have enhanced penalties.)

2. If you are operating a motor vehicle that is involved in a crash resulting ONLY in damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by a person, you must immediately stop your vehicle at the scene of the crash or as close as possible to the scene of the crash without obstructing traffic more than is necessary. If your vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the crash, you must scene of the crash (or, if the crash occurs on a main lane, ramp, or shoulder, median, or adjacent area and each vehicle involved can be normally and safely driven, each operator shall move their vehicle as soon as possible to a designated crash investigation site, if available, a location on the frontage road, the nearest suitable cross street, or other suitable location) until you have complied with the following:

a. Give your name and address, the registration number of the vehicle you were driving, and the name of your motor vehicle liability insurer to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision;

b. Show your driver license (if requested and available) to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision; and

c. Provide any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangement for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation.

3. If you are operating a motor vehicle that collides with and damages an unattended vehicle, you must immediately stop and;

a. Locate the operator or owner of the unattended vehicle and give that person the name and address of the operator and owner of the vehicle that struck the unattended vehicle; or

b. Leave in a conspicuous place in (or securely attach in a plainly visible way to) the unattended vehicle a written notice giving the name and address of the operator and the owner of the vehicle that struck the unattended vehicle and a statement of the circumstances of the collision.

4. If you are operating a motor vehicle that is involved in a crash resulting ONLY in damage to a fixture or landscaping legally on or adjacent to a highway, you must:

a. Take reasonable steps to locate the owner (or person in charge) of the property and to notify them of the crash and of your name and address and the registration number of the vehicle you were driving;

b. If requested and available, you must show your driver license to the owner or person in charge of the property; and

c. If the crash is not investigated by a law enforcement officer and the crash resulted in injury to or the death of a person or damage to the property of any one person to an apparent extent of $1,000 or more, you must make a written report of the crash and file the report with the Texas Department of Transportation not later than the 10th day after the date of the crash.

Failure to comply with the above requirements is an offense. If the damage to ALL vehicles is less than $200, this offense is a Class C misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500. If the damage to ALL vehicles is $200 or more, this offense is a Class B misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000; confinement in jail for up to 180 days; or both such fine and confinement. (This is for the 1st offense. Second and subsequent offenses have enhanced penalties).

5. If you are operating a vehicle involved in a crash that results in injury or death of a person or damage to a vehicle to the extent that it cannot be normally and safely driven, you must immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice of the crash to the: local police department if the crash occurred in a municipality; local police department or the sheriff’s office if the crash occurred not more than 100 feet outside the limits of a municipality; or sheriff’s office or the nearest office of the Texas Department of Public Safety if occurs elsewhere.

6. When you give your name, address, vehicle registration number, and insurance information to anyone who was involved in the crash, if requested and available, you must also show your driver license to the other driver(s) involved in the crash. Be sure to get the same information from the other driver(s). Record the insurance company name and the policy number exactly as shown on the driver’s proof-of-insurance card. Similar company names can cause confusion. If you have the name of the driver’s company, call the Texas Department of Insurance toll-free at 1-800-252-3439 to get the company address and telephone number.

7. Remember, if you are involved in a crash and the crash is not investigated by a law enforcement officer and the crash resulted in death or damage to the property of any one person to an apparent extent of $1,000 or more, you must make a written report of the crash and must file the written report with the Texas Department of Transportation not later than the 10th day after the date of the crash. The written report must be on the appropriate form approved by the Department.

8. If you are involved in a hit-and-run crash, report this to a law enforcement agency for investigation. The Texas Department of Insurance advises that uninsured motorist coverage will pay for damage in hit-and-run crashes reported to a law enforcement agency.

AIDING THE INJURED

When calling a doctor or ambulance, state the place of the crash clearly and correctly.  Do not assume that people are not injured simply because they say they are not. Send for skilled help as quickly as possible. Unskilled handling can do more harm than good.

Do not move or lift the victim unless it is absolutely necessary. If victims must be moved get help and try not to change the position in which they were found.

Stop serious bleeding with thick cloth pads, as clean as possible, applied with pressure by hand or by bandaging.

Keep the victim comfortable. If it is hot, cool the victim and provide shade as much as possible. If it is cool, cover the victim with blankets or coats if necessary and if available.

After obtaining health care, you should consider hiring a lawyer.  You will also want to notify your insurance company of the accident.   You should seriously consider hiring a lawyer before giving  statements, allowing anyone to record you or signing anything.

There are also specific laws on what you must do if you are in a car accident.  Please also review  CHAPTER 550. ACCIDENTS AND ACCIDENT REPORTS of the Texas Transportation Code.

If the accident involved a 18 wheeler truck, please see our post Texas Truck Accidents.  Please also see our Negligent Driving post.

Please see our page Hiring a Lawyer for more information. We have experience with car  accidents, and if you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in a car accident and need an East Texas  attorney, please do not hesitate to give Longview Attorney, Chris JonesBoard Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

About Chris Jones

Chris Jones is a Personal Injury lawyer and Wrongful Death lawyer with over 24 years of experience. Chris Jones is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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