Whether You Are Injured In A Traffic Accident Or Not, It Is Very Important That You Take The Necessary Steps To Protect Your Rights.
It’s always a good idea to seek the advice of a Texas accident attorney, even if you think the damage to your vehicle is minor or that you have no bodily injury.
Because, when you want to get medical treatment for your pain that you started to feel later or for bodily injuries that occurred later, or when you realize that the damage to your vehicle is actually more than you thought, you should make sure to document the traffic accident that happened to you for your insurance claims.
1. Take Medical Treatment Immediately
Start your medical treatment as soon as possible after a traffic accident.
Call 911 and wait for the police and firefighter, ambulance or emergency services to arrive at the scene of the accident.
Your health should be your first priority at this stage. If the fire brigade or ambulance arrives at the scene of the accident, it may be best for you to go to the emergency room.
If you think you are injured, go to the emergency room. Remember that even a small blow can cause serious injury. It may be wise to go to the emergency room to control or dispose of life-threatening conditions such as internal bleeding, broken bones, or traumatic brain injuries, even if you don’t think your injury is serious.
If you decide to seek treatment in the emergency room, be sure to give as much detail as possible when describing any of your symptoms to emergency room personnel.
If the doctor doesn’t know your symptoms, they can’t diagnose and treat you properly. In addition, if you do not report all your complaints to your doctor, these complaints will not appear in your emergency service records. This may adversely affect your claims later when you file a claim with the insurance company regarding your bodily injury.
Always listen to your doctor’s advice. If your family doctor or another healthcare professional advises you to continue your treatment, always follow your doctor’s advice.
If you did not seek medical attention immediately and you are injured, start your medical treatment as soon as possible without further delay.
2. Know The “traffic Rules” – What Are Your Obligations Under Texas Law?
First of all, as we mentioned above, you should immediately take precautions regarding your bodily injuries and health condition. However, you should also know your obligations under Texas law regarding how to act after being involved in a motor vehicle accident.
According to Title 7, Subtitle C, Section 550 of the Texas Code of Transportation:
If bodily injury or death has occurred as a result of a traffic accident, those involved in the accident should take the following measures immediately:
- Stop your vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible to the scene of the accident;
- If you did not stop your vehicle at the place where the accident occurred, return to the scene of the accident;
- As the drivers of the vehicles involved in the accident, give your name, address, vehicle registration number, motor vehicle liability insurance information to each other or to the passenger in the vehicle or any person injured in the accident;
- If it is clear that any person injured in the accident requires treatment, or if the injured person requests transport, ensure that the person is transported or transported to a doctor or hospital for medical treatment. If a person is injured or killed, or if a vehicle is damaged to such an extent that it cannot be driven normally and safely, notify the appropriate police immediately.
Failure to stop at the scene of the accident and fleeing from the scene or failure to comply with the above rules have serious legal consequences. Accordingly, it is possible to encounter second-degree felony sanctions for accidents that result in the death of a person, and third-degree felony sanctions for accidents involving very serious bodily injury. If an accident involving less serious bodily injury is involved, it is possible to face up to five years in state prison or up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both a fine and a prison sentence.
Where an accident covers only vehicle damage, interested parties must:
- Stop your vehicle immediately at the scene of the accident or as close as possible to the scene of the accident, without unduly obstructing traffic;
- If you did not stop your vehicle at the place where the accident occurred, return to the scene of the accident immediately; and
- Remain at the scene of the accident until you comply with the information and assistance requirements.
Failure to comply with these rules may result in a Class C misdemeanor if damage to all vehicles is less than $200, or a Class B misdemeanor if damage to all vehicles is $200 or more.
3. Request The Police Officer To Prepare An Accident Report
When the police arrive, make sure they file an accident report. Because the accident report will help you when you create a claim with the insurance company related to the accident in question.
What Is A Texas Police Officer Accident Report? (CR-3 Form)?
The Texas Police Officer Accident Report is a written summary of the relevant traffic accident. It includes the time, date, location of the accident, people involved in the accident, witnesses to the accident, the way the accident occurred, and which party was at fault in the accident or the police officer’s assumptions about who caused the accident.
According to Texas Transportation Code Section 550.062, Texas police are required to prepare a Peace Officer’s Crash Report if an injury or death has occurred as a result of a traffic accident, or if damage to the vehicle is $1,000 or more. Texas police are also obliged to submit the accident report they have prepared to the Texas Department of Transportation within ten days at the latest from the date of the accident. You can purchase Texas Accident Reports here.
If the traffic accident in question did not cause injury or death, or if the vehicle damage is less than $1,000, it would still be in your best interest to fill out the Blue Form Crash Report (CR-2 Form). The preparation and keeping of this report by the driver is not a legal obligation. This report is only useful for the driver’s own records and does not need to be submitted to or registered with the Texas Department of Transportation as of September 1, 2017.
It is very important for the drivers involved in the traffic accident to fill out the CR-2 Form without wasting time and write all the details about the accident in this report, in case the police did not come or there is no need to keep a report, against the possibility of forgetting the information about the accident in time.
Important: If you are taken to the emergency room immediately after an accident without giving your statement to the police officer, it is in your best interest to call an accident lawyer as soon as possible. When only one party has given their statement, if there are no other witnesses or other evidence, the police officer can usually prepare a report based only on what that party has said. This may adversely affect your claims and claims before the insurance company. In such cases, it would be best for you to contact an accident lawyer to contact the police officer and clarify who was at fault in the accident.
4. Gather Evidence
Take as many photos of the accident scene as you can. We now have the best tool to document every important event in our lives—the smartphone. Most of us have an iPhone or another smartphone with a high-definition camera. Use it.
Take pictures of the road, your own car, the other driver’s car, and any injuries to your body, even minor injuries such as bruises, cuts, and scratches. Also, take photos of the other party’s driver’s license, license plate, insurance card and registration. In addition, take pictures of surrounding buildings, traffic signs (e.g. speed limit signs), road lighting, road conditions (e.g. skid marks, potholes, rubble, rain, icing), security cameras, and traffic light cameras.
Document the people who witnessed the accident and make sure the police consult their testimonies about the accident and take the witnesses’ contact details and put them in the Accident Report. If the police do not take any witness statements, make sure you or your lawyer contact them as quickly as possible.
If the insurance company acts quickly to refer to the witnesses’ statements about the accident, there is a possibility that the statements of the witnesses will be affected by the insurance expert who interviewed them.
Also, be sure to document any damage to your property outside your vehicle as a result of the accident, such as your mobile phone or other personal items in the passenger compartment or trunk.
If you replace these damaged items with your own money, keep your receipts for reimbursement from the insurance company.
Take your notes immediately in the notes section of your phone without forgetting the details of how the accident happened. Note whether the other driver is speeding, texting while driving, is distracted, and is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Be sure to document whether the accident occurred in a construction or school district. All this will be a good reference for you to stay consistent when reporting the accident to the police, your lawyer or the insurance company.
5. Limit Your Talk To The Other Driver
Limit your conversations with other drivers or parties to just checking their physical health. You can ask them if they’re okay. Do not admit fault or blame the other party. Don’t be emotional or hostile.
Keep calm and let the police take statements from the parties involved. Your statement will also be taken regarding the way the accident occurred.
6. Track Your Damaged Vehicle
If your vehicle is unusable as a result of an accident, make sure you know exactly where your vehicle is stored.
The company towing your vehicle will usually give you a card with this information. If you were taken to the emergency room by ambulance immediately after the accident and you do not know where your vehicle was towed, call the police department that arrived at the scene of the accident.
More information on towing and storing vehicles can be found here. This information will also be included in the accident report. You can download your accident report here or learn how to obtain accident reports below:
- Harris County
- Dallas County
- Fort Worth
- Saint Anthony
7. Make Your Request At The Insurance Company
Information Required To Create Your Request
It’s best to talk to an accident lawyer before contacting any insurance company, especially if you’ve been injured.
However, if you choose to call the insurance company yourself, consider the information below and proceed with caution.
Insurance companies examine claims related to traffic accidents by dividing them into two: Damage to property (vehicle damage) and Bodily injury.
Before calling the insurance company, obtain and review your accident report. Review your notes, photos, and any other evidence you have gathered about the accident before contacting the insurance company.
You should prepare to be able to answer questions that the insurance company representative will ask you as consistently as possible. Most of the information you will need is contained in the accident report.
Insurance companies are usually open 24 hours; therefore, you can open your request at any time of the day. The insurance company representative will ask you about the date, time and place of the accident, as well as general biographical information such as the name, address, date of birth, vehicle information, vehicle VIN numbers, driver’s licenses and license plate numbers of the parties involved in the accident.
Regarding your vehicle damage, they will ask you where your vehicle is and will ask you to describe the damage to your vehicle.
Most importantly, they will ask how the accident happened.
Remember, the insurance company will always look for signs of your fault in the accident and ask questions accordingly. Therefore, be well prepared before calling the insurance company; Speak concisely and briefly. They will also ask you if there were any injuries in the accident. Be very careful how you respond to the insurance company.
For example, let’s say the accident happened an hour ago, your adrenaline is still pumping and you haven’t felt any injuries yet. You may think that you are not injured in the heat and that you feel good. If you have not yet contacted a lawyer, you should postpone questions about injuries until after you have had an opportunity to calmly assess your situation.
Because if you haven’t seen a doctor yet, you won’t know if you’re injured. You may wake up in the morning with your body stiff and in pain.
Once your claim has been made, the insurance company will give you a claim number and in most cases they will immediately appoint the adjuster to deal with your claim.
Write down all this information. You will need this information when contacting the insurance company.
Note that when you call the insurance company, they record your conversations. So be mindful of what you say every time you talk to them. For your convenience, we have compiled the contact information of the ten largest insurance companies below.
If your accident occurred in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Texas, the offices most likely to deal with your claim will be:
|State Farm Claims:||Geico Claims:|
|P.O. Box 106171||P.O. Box 509105|
|Atlanta, GA 30348||San Diego, CA 92150|
|P: 844-292-8615||P: 800-207-7847|
|F: 855-820-6318||F: 214-442-5164|
|Allstate Claims:||Progressive Claims:|
|P.O. Box 660636||17950 Preston Road, #400|
|Dallas, TX 75266||Dallas, TX 75252|
|P: 800-255-7828||P: 800-776-4737|
|F: 866-447-4293||F: 713-465-1504|
|Liberty Mutual (Safeco) Claims:||USAA Claims:|
|P.O. Box 515097||P.O. Box 5000|
|Los Angeles, CA 90051||Daphne, AL 36526|
|P: 800-225-2467||P: 800-531-8669|
|F: 603-334-8181||F: 800-531-8877|
|Farmers Claims:||American Family Claims:|
|P.O. Box 268994||6000 American Parkway|
|Oklahoma City, OK 73126||Madison, WI 53783|
|P: 800-435-7764||P: 800-692-6326|
|F: 877-217-1389||F: 866-912-5328|
|Nationwide Claims:||Travelers Claims:|
|P.O. Box 182068||P.O. Box 650293|
|Columbus, OH 43218||Dallas, TX 75265|
|P: 800-421-3535||P: 800-235-3610|
|F: 888-669-7698||F: 877-749-0075|
Making A Claim Before Your Own Insurance Company
Having a lawyer at this stage can be very important. Contacting the other driver’s insurance company or your own insurance company can quickly turn into a disaster.
If you file a claim with your own insurance company under personal injury protection (PIP) or uninsured / underinsured driver coverage (UIM / UIM), remember that you are dealing with your own insurance company.
Since you have paid your premiums on time for years and you have not made any claims for years, you may think that your own insurance company is always there for you when you need it.
However, remember that; insurance companies are primarily profit-making businesses, and in order to maximize their profits, they will do their best to delay processing your claim, deny your claim, and reduce the amount payable.
Don’t take it personally, they’re just doing their job!
To protect your rights, it would be best for you to talk to an accident lawyer before contacting your own insurance company. However, if you choose to contact the insurance company yourself, be extremely careful when talking to your insurance company.
They may use your own words against you to deny your claim or delay payment for your claim. Most UM / UIM requests will want to record your phone conversation. There is also a provision in insurance policies that makes it necessary to record the statements made when making a UM / UIM claim.
It is best to hire an accident lawyer to protect your rights before making any statements. If you want to handle your claim yourself, be extremely prepared and review the suggestions above.
Making A Claim Before The Other Party’s Insurance Company
NEVER give it to the other party’s insurance company if they ask you to make a registered or unregistered statement about the accident.
It is almost never necessary to make a statement to the other party’s insurance company. Whatever the insurance company tells you, don’t explain it to them.
No matter what they tell you, their insured will meet with eyewitnesses, examine the accident report, the scene of the accident and any other evidence, and determine liability without your declaration.
If you have made a statement to the insurance company about the accident, it does not mean that everything is over. If you’ve told them you’re feeling good, but you’re starting to feel pain in your body now, it’s not too late to make a claim about your bodily injury. There are many reasons why you might tell them you weren’t injured:
- Hidden Injury : Certain injuries can occur hours or days after a car accident. Sprains and strains (i.e. soft tissue injuries) of muscles, tendons, and ligaments, in particular, may begin to give you pain days after the accident. Right after the accident, you may not feel any different because of your body’s “fight or flight” response to trauma; however, you may wake up with pain the next morning.
- Not Seriously Injured : When the insurance company asked you if you were injured, you may have assumed that it meant a very serious injury. Many people actually misinterpret this question when asked if they have been injured after a car accident. When they say “injury” by the insurance company, they think they mean situations where there is a lot of bleeding, broken bones in the body, or a serious head injury. Remember, injuries can be of varying severity. Some injuries can be life-threatening, such as traumatic brain injury. Some are moderate, such as a broken rib. Others may be to a lesser degree, such as an injured muscle. However, they all require medical treatment.
- Financial Reasons : You may think that because you did not seek immediate medical attention for economic reasons, the insurance company would not believe you were injured. The truth is that; Because they don’t have health insurance or can’t afford to pay medical bills, people may be worried about getting medical treatment even when they’re injured. However, if you feel injured before or after talking to the insurance company, it’s not too late to seek medical treatment. Your health comes first.
- Aggravating a Pre-Existing Injury : You may find it very difficult to distinguish between your current injury and your pre-existing injury aggravated by the accident. Note that if your situation has worsened due to the accident, the offending party will be liable for your damages (eg medical bills).
8. Continue Your Medical Treatment Stable
If you are injured, it is very important that you seek medical treatment consistently, in other words, that you do not interrupt your treatment.
There are two main reasons why you should seek stable medical treatment: First, your health.
Unstable medical treatment will only delay your recovery. Ignoring your health leads to more medical problems in the future.
The second reason is; stable, uninterrupted medical treatment helps your case.
Breaks in treatment will undermine your claims for bodily injury and reduce the potential amount of settlement. When insurance companies receive unstable medical treatment, they may think you are not as injured as you claim.
Logically, if someone is in pain, they will do everything possible to feel better. Ignoring the doctor’s instructions and skipping appointments indicates that you may be exaggerating your scars. Of course, no one likes to go to the doctor; however, the lack of stable treatment will adversely affect your claims before the insurance company.
Also, keep a record of all your medical treatment. Keep your medical reports, prescriptions, receipts for all your out-of-pocket treatment costs and all other medical expenses.
9. Limit Your Communications With The Insurance Company
If you have not hired a lawyer, the insurance company will try to contact you frequently by phone, email and postal mail.
The insurance company may offer to pay some of your treatment bills, and may also offer to pay a small fee for any inconvenience caused by the accident. If the insurance company official catches you on the phone, try not to reveal too much about your bodily injury. They will do their best to catch you off guard and prove inconsistencies in your statements.
Insurance companies will send you the consent forms required to supply your medical reports by post or e-mail. Never sign any consent form sent by insurance companies without discussing your situation with a lawyer. Giving them access to all your medical records is definitely not a good idea!
Be very careful when talking about your situation with the insurance company official.
Do not sign any release or settlement agreement sent by the insurance company without consulting a lawyer.
For example, if your claim for bodily injury is still open, you should be careful when they offer to pay for your claim for vehicle damage. While the release they send you may think that it is only about your vehicle damage claim, it may actually be a very comprehensive release and may contain phrases stating that you have released the insurance company from all your claims for both vehicle damage and bodily injuries.
This also applies to checks they send to you. Cashing a check with the statement payment made for all of your claims will have the same effect as signing the release that includes both your vehicle damage and bodily injury claims we mentioned in the paragraph above.
Oral agreements are as legally valid as written ones in Texas. Windell Gilbert v. In the Cherish Fitz case, the Dallas Court of Appeals ruled that the injured person was bound by it when he verbally accepted the insurance company’s over-the-phone settlement offer to reimburse him for medical expenses plus $500. Therefore, be very careful when talking on the phone with the insurance company representative about your situation.
10. Get Free Advice From An Accidental Lawyer Before Make Any Decision
Until your claims with the insurance company are finalized, there will be many decisions to be taken regarding your claims. Don’t be hasty. Even small decisions can greatly affect your demand situation. Most car accident lawyers offer free advice. Even if you decide to go on your own without hiring a lawyer, you can at least get advice on how to properly handle your claim.