As a seasoned Texas lawyer, I’ve seen my fair share of car accident cases unfold. In the wake of an accident, the steps you take—or fail to take—can have significant legal implications. Here’s a rundown of common mistakes after an accident you should avoid to protect your legal rights after a car accident in Texas.
Mistake #1: Moving Your Vehicle Without Taking a Quick Video
Not leaving the scene of an accident before documenting it, especially by making a quick video, is important for several reasons. Filming immediately captures the exact condition and positions of the vehicles and surroundings. This initial state can be crucial for understanding how and why the accident happened. A video provides independently verifiable evidence. It’s more objective than memory or verbal accounts, which can be influenced by stress or differing perspectives. It prevents any misunderstandings or misrepresentations of the accident’s circumstances by any involved party.
Mistake #2: Not Continuing to Document Even After Moving the Vehicles
After securing everyone’s safety, shift your focus to documenting the scene. Here are some important steps to follow:
- Capture detailed photos of the scene, including all vehicles involved, visible damage, road conditions, and street signs.
- If there are any visible injuries, photograph them as well.
- Take notes on any important details, such as the time of the accident, weather conditions, and any witness statements.
In this digital age, various apps can be handy in documenting the accident scene.
Mistake #3: Thinking the Police Will Come Out
One of the first things a lot of people do after an accident is to call the police. The reality is the police generally won’t come out to the scene of an auto accident unless someone has been injured. Know that in Texas, you can fill out a blue form and turn it into the police department to report the accident yourself.
Mistake #4: Not Knowing When to Call the Police
Just as much as the police are unlikely to come out to the scene of an everyday accident, you do need to know what to communicate to the dispatcher or call-taker when there’s a situation that warrants the police coming out – and it isn’t just when someone has been injured. Those instances are:
- there is reason to believe the other driver had been drinking
- there is reason to believe the other driver was under the influence of drugs
- the other driver left the scene without stopping
- the other driver left the scene without giving you their information
Mistake After an Accident #5: Not Exchanging Information
While you can’t control what the other person does, you should always leave your information with the other driver. This includes your name and your insurance policy number. The other driver should do the same. If they don’t, you should let the police know.
Mistake #6: Apologizing to Anyone
While it’s a human instinct to express concern, saying “I’m sorry” can be misconstrued as an admission of guilt. In the eyes of the law, an apology may be considered an admission of liability, which can jeopardize your claim. It’s best to limit communication at the scene to the exchange of necessary information and to avoid making statements that suggest fault.
Mistake #7: Not Calling a Lawyer
You’ve likely never been in this situation before. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the maze of legal procedures, from dealing with insurance companies to ensuring you receive fair compensation. Legal representation is particularly critical if there are disputes about the accident or if you sustain injuries.
Mistake #8: Accepting Responsibility for the Accident
After an accident, you may be inclined to accept responsibility or settle matters quickly. However, this can be a critical mistake. Taking responsibility can affect your ability to recover damages. Moreover, the full extent of damages or injuries may not be immediately apparent. It’s important to allow for a thorough investigation and legal evaluation before accepting any fault or settlement.
Mistake #9: Discussing Your Accident on Social Media
In today’s digital age, the impulse to share our experiences on social media is strong. However, posting details about your accident online can be detrimental. Such posts can be discovered by insurance adjusters or defense lawyers and used to undermine your claim. It’s wise to keep the details offline and speak to your attorney before making any public statements.
Mistake #10: Forgetting About Witnesses
Witnesses can provide invaluable information in painting an accurate picture of the incident. Upon identifying any witnesses, politely approach them, explain your role in the accident, and request their contact information. Their statements could potentially tip the scales in your favor when establishing fault.
Mistake #11: Admitting Fault
Once the scene has been documented, proceed to exchange contact and insurance details with the other driver. However, be careful not to discuss the details of the accident or admit fault. While it might seem polite to apologize, even a simple “I’m sorry” can be misconstrued as an admission of guilt and can be used against you later during insurance claims or legal proceedings.
Mistake #12: Assuming You Are Not Injured
Seeking immediate medical attention is a must, regardless of whether you feel fine or not. Injuries might not be immediately apparent and may surface after some time. Moreover, maintaining consistent medical documentation can significantly support your insurance claim or legal action.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
In the heat of the moment, adrenaline might mask the pain of injuries. Many victims don’t realize they’re injured until hours or even days after the accident. That’s why it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention after a car accident, even if you feel fine. Medical professionals can detect hidden injuries and provide necessary treatment.
This not only protects your health but also provides an official record of your injuries, which is crucial for any future insurance claims or legal actions.
Continue Medical Documentation
Maintaining an accurate and consistent record of your medical treatments is of utmost importance. This includes:
- doctor’s notes
- medical bills
- any other relevant documents
These records serve as crucial evidence in your car accident claim, demonstrating the extent of your injuries and the treatments you’ve received. They help establish the severity of your injuries and the causation and damages in your claim.
Mistake #13: Talking to the Other Side’s Insurance
Talking to the other side’s insurance company without consulting a lawyer can be risky because insurance companies are often more focused on minimizing their payouts rather than ensuring you get fair compensation. Insurance adjusters are skilled negotiators and may use your words against you, potentially twisting them to suggest you’re at fault or downplaying your injuries. This can lead to lower settlement offers or even claim denials.
The Pitfalls of Recorded Statements
Insurance companies frequently request recorded statements to reduce their payouts. There is a risk that your words could be twisted or used negatively against you. You should exercise caution when giving a recorded statement and avoid making such statements immediately following the incident.
It’s always a good idea to consult a legal professional before giving a recorded statement to safeguard your interests.
Mistake #14: Accepting the First Settlement Offer
It’s tempting to accept the first settlement offer from an insurance company, especially when facing mounting medical bills and the financial pressure of lost wages. However, these initial offers are often calculated to minimize the insurer’s payout. Accepting this without proper legal advice can lead to a settlement that falls short of covering all your medical expenses and other related losses, both current and future.
Mistake #15: Settling Too Quickly
Similarly, rushing into a settlement can be just as detrimental. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, the full extent of your injuries or the impact on your quality of life may not be fully apparent. Some injuries manifest symptoms only days or weeks later. Settling too quickly can mean missing out on compensation for these delayed symptoms or long-term repercussions that weren’t originally accounted for.
Mistake #16: Not Having a Personal Injury Lawyer Represent You
The benefits of hiring a lawyer who specializes in personal injury cannot be overstated. Personal injury lawyers bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to your case, including a deep understanding of Texas law, insurance company tactics, and the true value of your claim. They have the resources to conduct a thorough investigation, consult with medical experts, and negotiate aggressively on your behalf. Perhaps most importantly, they can take your case to trial if a fair settlement is not offered.
Mistake #17: Not Taking Pictures
One of the most crucial actions you can take at the scene of an accident is to use your smartphone or camera to document everything. Photos are compelling evidence that can speak volumes about the accident’s circumstances. Make sure to take pictures of the other driver, their vehicle, and the license plate. Don’t forget to get a snapshot of their driver’s license, the accident location, any traffic control devices, and other vehicles whose drivers could be potential witnesses. These images serve as indisputable facts that can substantiate your claim, showing the extent of damage, the impact, and possibly the cause of the accident.
Mistake #18: Failing to Document the Accident with a Blue Form
Sometimes, the police may not come to the accident scene, especially if there are no serious injuries. However, this does not diminish the need for official documentation. In Texas, when law enforcement does not report the accident, you are required to fill out a CR-2 form, commonly known as a “blue form.” This self-report provides a legal account of the accident and ensures that the event is officially recorded. It’s a crucial step for any future claims or legal action.
Mistake #19: Not Timely Reporting to Your Insurance Company
Reporting your car accident to your insurance company without delay is of great importance. It not only initiates the claim process but also helps prevent potential issues with your claim. Whether you’re filing a first-party claim or a third-party insurance claim, it’s important to report the accident as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours of the crash.
Mistake #20: Accepting a Lowball Offer
Insurance companies frequently employ lowball settlement offers as a strategy to minimize their payouts. Recognizing these offers and refraining from accepting them without consulting an attorney is important. Our experienced attorney can help you evaluate the offer and negotiate for a more substantial settlement.
Mistake #21: Not Talking to an Attorney Before Signing a Settlement
Settlement releases are legally binding documents that can significantly affect your rights. Consulting an attorney before signing any releases is crucial to ensure that you fully comprehend the terms and implications of the release. Your attorney can review the settlement offer and the release to ensure that they are fair and in your best interest.
Legal Considerations After a Car Crash
Understanding your legal rights and obligations following a car crash is fundamental. Be aware of the deadlines for filing claims and consider seeking legal representation to help navigate the complexities of the legal process.
Understanding Your Legal Rights
You have the legal right to pursue compensation for the following damages after a car crash, especially for car accident victims:
- Car accident injuries
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Other related damages
It’s crucial to understand your rights and obligations, and our experienced car accident attorney can assist you with this.
Hire the Right Legal Representation
Our experienced personal injury lawyers:
- Handle negotiations with insurance adjusters
- Gather evidence
- Establish liability
- Assist in achieving a fair settlement
Post-accident mistakes can have prolonged effects on your health and financial situation. Understanding these potential repercussions and taking measures to avoid common mistakes like admitting fault or neglecting to seek medical attention is crucial.
Accident mistakes, including car accidents, can have a significant impact on your health and financial stability. Untreated injuries can lead to chronic pain, limited mobility, and other health issues.
Financially, the costs of medical treatment, lost wages, and other expenses can add up quickly, potentially leading to financial hardship.
Certain actions can undermine your case, such as admitting fault, accepting a quick settlement offer, or posting about the accident on social media. These actions can be used against you and could potentially weaken your case, making it more difficult to receive fair compensation for your damages.
Call Us: (817) 203-2220
Handling the aftermath of a car accident can be stressful and overwhelming. But by keeping a clear head and following the right steps, you can protect yourself and your legal rights. Remember to prioritize safety, document the scene, and never admit fault. Also, seeking immediate medical attention, reporting the accident to your insurance company promptly, and considering legal representation can go a long way in ensuring your health and financial stability.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the common mistakes after a car accident?
After a car accident, common mistakes include not calling the police, forgetting to collect the other party’s insurance information, failing to get medical treatment for injuries, and not notifying your insurance company of the crash. Be sure to avoid these errors to protect yourself legally and financially.
What is psychological shock after a car accident?
Psychological shock after a car accident can lead to mood swings, heightened anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, and even suicidal thoughts if left untreated. It’s important to seek support to prevent it from developing into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What are the symptoms of shock after an accident?
If you or someone else shows symptoms such as rapid, weak pulse, irregular heartbeat, rapid, shallow breathing, and cool, clammy skin after an accident, it could indicate the onset of shock. Seek immediate medical assistance.
What should I do immediately after a car accident?
After a car accident, it’s important to ensure everyone’s safety, notify authorities, document the scene, and exchange information without admitting fault. Remember to prioritize safety and follow the necessary procedures.
We begin by discussing the cardinal role of an auto accident lawyer: legal expertise. Car accident cases aren’t just about who was right or wrong on the road. They’re about navigating a complex legal system, understanding nuanced car accident laws, and fighting for your rights. That’s where a car accident lawyer’s legal expertise comes into play.
Car accident lawyers, also known as car accident attorneys, have the legal prowess to help clients understand their rights and navigate the legal process. We can offer insight into intricate car accident laws, allowing us to offer essential legal guidance. The specific legal expertise required in auto accident cases includes obtaining expert testimony from subject matter experts to explain the severity of injuries and establishing liability with witness testimonies.
Insurance companies are a double-edged sword. On one hand, they provide essential coverage in the event of an accident. On the other hand, they can be tough negotiators when it comes to settling claims. At this point, a car accident lawyer’s negotiation expertise proves invaluable.
Our lawyers engage in negotiations with insurance companies on behalf of car accident victims to secure equitable compensation, adeptly representing their client’s interests and advocating for the most favorable resolution. Legal representation is vital during insurance negotiations after an auto accident as we:
Effectively handle car accident claims;
Leverage evidence to bolster the case;
Alleviate the injured party from the intricacies and pressures of claim settlements; and
Ultimately aim to optimize the client’s compensation.
Getting into an auto accident is stressful enough without the added worry of how you’re going to pay for medical bills, car repairs, and other expenses. Our seasoned car accident attorney proves invaluable at this juncture, helping to maximize compensation for clients by:
Building a strong case;
Negotiating with insurance companies; and
Representing clients in court if necessary.
Building a strong case is essential in maximizing car accident settlement in auto accidents. This involves gathering valuable evidence to establish responsibility for the crash and the harm caused to the victim. Our auto accident lawyers determine potential compensation for a car crash by taking into account criteria such as:
Other damages resulting from the accident
Types of Auto Accidents and Their Challenges
Just as no two car accidents are the same, the challenges and intricacies associated with different types of auto accidents can vary greatly. Whether it’s a rear-end collision, a hit-and-run incident, or a multiple vehicle crash, each type of accident presents its own unique set of challenges.
Various types of auto accidents, including rollovers, head-on collisions, and serious crashes, can lead to significant consequences, such as occupants being ejected from vehicles or collisions with larger, heavier vehicles. Sideswipe collisions, for instance, may result in injuries like whiplash, broken bones, internal injuries, spinal cord and head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries.
Additionally, mechanical failures, such as issues with steering, suspension, transmission, and engines, play a significant role in contributing to car accidents.
Rear-end collisions are among the most common types of auto accidents. However, they’re far from simple. In fact, they often involve complex disputes over liability and require a thorough investigation.
Liability in rear-end collisions is generally established by identifying the driver at the rear as responsible. Nevertheless, there can be instances and conditions that make proving liability more challenging. Our personal injury lawyers can assist in pursuing legal action against the party deemed responsible for the losses incurred in a rear-end collision.
An auto accident lawyer can assist in a rear-end collision case by conducting an investigation into the incident and gathering pertinent evidence, such as witness testimonies and official reports, to bolster your case.
Hit-and-run incidents can be particularly distressing for victims. The offender has not only caused an accident but also fled the scene, leaving the victim to deal with the aftermath. These cases can be difficult to resolve, especially if the responsible party cannot be found.
One of the primary difficulties in a hit-and-run accident is establishing the responsibility of another driver, which can be supported by eyewitness accounts. Violations of traffic laws often underlie these accidents. Our car accident lawyer can help you file a personal injury claim to recover compensation for your damages. Lawyers utilize a range of investigative techniques to locate hit-and-run drivers, such as collecting fluid samples, examining cell phone records, scrutinizing security camera footage, and searching for unique car parts or personal items from the collision.
Multiple Vehicle Crashes
Multiple vehicle crashes, also known as pile-ups, can be particularly complex. With so many parties involved, determining who was at fault can be a challenging task.
The involvement of multiple parties in a multiple-vehicle crash introduces complexities in auto accident claims, making it challenging to determine fault and allocate liability among the parties involved, especially when dealing with car accident injuries. Common factors contributing to multiple vehicle crashes include reckless driver behaviors such as speeding and driving under the influence, poor weather conditions, and distracted driving.
Qualities of an Exceptional Auto Accident Lawyer
Identifying the right auto accident lawyer is key to the success of your case. But what makes an exceptional auto accident lawyer? What qualities should you look for when deciding who should represent you?
An exceptional auto accident lawyer will not only have extensive experience in handling car accident cases, but also strong communication skills and a dedication to their clients. These are the professionals who will guide you through the legal process, fight for your best interests, and strive to secure the compensation you deserve.
Experience stands out as a vital trait to consider when choosing a car accident lawyer. The law is complex and can often be difficult to understand. An experienced lawyer will have a deep understanding of the law and how it applies to your specific case.
A highly skilled auto accident lawyer is typically expected to have extensive experience in handling car accident cases, along with a strong background in personal injury law. This experience is crucial as it provides them with specialized expertise and a deep understanding of car accident laws, allowing them to adeptly handle cases and achieve equitable resolutions for their clients.
Effective communication is a linchpin in any relationship, and this holds true for the attorney-client relationship. A good car accident lawyer should be able to clearly and effectively communicate with clients, keeping them informed and involved every step of the way.
Effective communication skills are essential for keeping clients informed and ensuring their needs are met. Lawyers utilize their communication skills to ensure clients are kept informed by establishing clear lines of communication, maintaining open and honest dialogue, and using plain language to explain legal matters. Additionally, they often rely on email as a primary mode of communication with clients for its efficiency.
Dedication to Clients
A committed lawyer will always strive to deliver beyond expectations for their clients. They will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome, putting their client’s needs and best interests first.
A dedicated auto accident lawyer offers comprehensive support by:
Providing guidance through the legal process
Conducting thorough crash investigations
Assessing economic and non-economic losses
Adeptly negotiating with insurers
Identifying potential compensation avenues
They are dedicated to vigorously advocating for the client’s interests, ensuring equitable restitution, and proficiently managing all related legal processes and documentation.
The Process of Working with an Auto Accident Lawyer
Collaborating with an auto accident lawyer encompasses various crucial stages. These stages include:
Potentially trial preparation and litigation
Each step plays a crucial role in securing a favorable outcome for the client.
The first step in the process is the initial consultation, where the lawyer will inquire about the incident details, injuries suffered, treatments received, and assess the case overall. They will provide legal advice, explain the process ahead, and discuss fees as well as their own relevant experience.
The next stage is case evaluation, where the attorney will comprehensively assess the facts, evidence, and relevant legal principles to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case. This assessment will guide them in determining the most advantageous course of action.
The initial consultation is your first official meeting with the auto accident lawyer. It’s a chance for the lawyer to:
learn more about your case
assess the strength of your claim
discuss potential legal strategies
answer any questions you may have
It is also an opportunity for you to decide if the lawyer is the right fit for you and your case.
In an initial consultation with an auto accident lawyer, one can anticipate the attorney reviewing documents and records, evaluating the claim, and asking detailed questions about the case. The lawyer will provide legal advice, explain the legal process, and discuss the individual’s role in the case. The duration of the initial consultation can vary significantly, influenced by factors such as the type of negligence, the number of individuals involved, and the extent of the injury. It could range from 15 minutes to over an hour.
After the initial consultation, the next step is case evaluation. This is where your lawyer will delve deeper into the specifics of your case, gathering evidence and determining the best course of action.
An evaluation of an auto accident case generally encompasses the following factors:
Assessment of personal injury
Collection of evidence
Examination of medical records
Consultations with the attorney to comprehend the specifics of the accident and assess the potential for a settlement or legal recourse
The case evaluation stage is crucial as it enables the attorney to comprehensively assess the facts, evidence, and relevant legal principles to grasp the strengths and weaknesses of your case, assisting them in determining the most advantageous course of action.
After case evaluation comes settlement negotiations. This stage involves your lawyer working with the insurance company to reach a fair settlement.
The essential stages in the settlement negotiation process for auto accident cases involve:
Initiating a claim
Gathering pertinent documents and evidence
Drafting a demand letter
Participating in negotiations with the insurance company
Lawyers employ methods such as maintaining organization, thoroughly assessing settlement offers, and presenting persuasive evidence to optimize settlement offers.
Trial Preparation and Litigation
If a settlement cannot be reached, the next step is trial preparation and litigation. This stage involves your lawyer preparing for trial and representing you in court.
In trial preparation for an auto accident case, the typical steps involve:
Laying the groundwork for the case
Initiating a claim with the relevant insurer
Initiating a civil lawsuit if required
Conducting the discovery process to collect information
Attempting to reach an out-of-court settlement
If such a settlement is not achievable, proceeding to trial
Auto accident lawyers utilize physical evidence such as accident reports and photographs, as well as non-physical evidence like witness statements, to establish liability, document damages, and build a strong case for compensation during trial preparation and litigation. In the event of a car accident lawsuit, these resources are crucial for a successful outcome.
Understanding Contingency Fees
Many car accident victims often worry about affording a lawyer. Understanding contingency fees becomes central in this context.
Contingency fees in auto accident cases refer to a percentage of the amount recovered by the lawyer, serving as their payment only in the event of a successful settlement or court victory. Typically, these fees range from 33% to 40% and are established prior to the lawyer taking on the case.
The primary benefit of engaging the services of an auto accident lawyer on a contingency fee basis is the ability for clients to pursue their compensation claim without the burden of upfront legal fees. Payment to the lawyer is contingent upon winning the case, thereby enhancing the accessibility of legal services.
No Upfront Costs
Hiring a lawyer on a contingency fee basis has the significant advantage of requiring no upfront costs. This means that you don’t have to worry about coming up with money to pay for legal services out of pocket.
When a lawyer operates on a contingency fee basis, it indicates that the client is not required to make upfront or hourly payments for legal services. Instead, the lawyer’s payment is contingent upon the client successfully recovering for their injuries. The customary initial expenses in other types of attorney fee arrangements encompass hourly fees, which may vary between lawyers, and fixed fees for standard legal matters.
In contingency fee arrangements, the costs incurred during the legal process, including court filing fees, medical assessments, and mileage costs, are usually covered by the attorney representing the client.
Pay Only If You Win
The “pay only if you win” feature is another significant advantage of contingency fees. This means that you only have to pay your lawyer if they win your case.
The benefits of a contingency fee agreement in auto accident cases include the ability for clients to retain legal representation without upfront fees and the incentive for attorneys to secure the highest possible compensation for their clients. Contingency fees in auto accident settlements are commonly determined as a percentage of the final settlement or court award, typically falling within the range of 33% to 40%.
Indeed, there can be supplementary expenses apart from the contingency fee in auto accident cases. These may encompass court filing fees, fees associated with gathering evidence, and other expenses accrued during the legal process.
Common Auto Accident Injuries
A myriad of injuries can result from car accidents. Understanding common auto accident injuries can help victims better comprehend their situation and seek appropriate medical treatment.
Whiplash is characterized as a neck injury resulting from abrupt and forceful movement of the head in one direction and then rapidly in the opposite direction. This injury is frequently associated with car accidents, particularly those involving rear-end collisions. Other common injuries resulting from auto accidents include:
Traumatic brain injuries are prevalent in auto accidents, as studies indicate that approximately 37.7% of hospitalized drivers sustain a traumatic brain injury, although most cases are minor.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
Negotiating a car accident claim with insurance companies after a car accident can often be challenging. Insurance companies often employ various strategies to reduce or deny claims, adding an extra layer of stress for accident victims.
Insurance companies employ a range of strategies to reduce compensation after an automobile accident, such as prolonging the claims process, rejecting or undervaluing claims, and obtaining recorded statements to diminish the value of the claim.
An experienced auto accident lawyer can help navigate these challenges, advocating for your rights and working to secure the fair compensation you deserve.
Time Limits for Filing Auto Accident Claims
Each state sets its own deadline for filing auto accident claims, a term known as the statute of limitations. This time limit can drastically impact your ability to seek compensation for your injuries.
The statute of limitations is a legal provision that defines the maximum timeframe for initiating legal proceedings following an event. In the context of auto accident claims, this law sets a deadline for filing a claim, which differs across states and typically spans from 1 to 6 years. Failure to meet the deadline for submitting an auto accident claim can lead to the denial of your claim by the insurance company.
In such instances, you may be held accountable for the damages resulting from the car accident, underscoring the importance of adhering to the statute of limitations in your state.
Navigating the aftermath of a car accident can be a daunting task, but you don’t have to face it alone. An experienced auto accident lawyer can guide you through the legal process, advocate for your rights, and work tirelessly to secure the compensation you deserve. From understanding the importance of legal expertise to dealing with insurance companies and understanding contingency fees, this guide has provided an overview of the key aspects of hiring a car accident lawyer. Remember, time is of the essence, so don’t wait to seek legal representation. Your road to recovery begins now.
Frequently Asked Questions
When to get an attorney for a car accident?
It’s best to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible if you were hurt in a car accident caused by another driver. An experienced attorney can assist you in filing a personal injury claim and building a strong case.
What does a car accident lawyer do?
A car accident lawyer provides legal representation to individuals injured in car accidents, guiding them through the legal process and advocating for fair compensation. They work to secure the rights of their clients and ensure they receive the compensation they deserve.
What is a contingency fee?
A contingency fee is a payment arrangement where the lawyer’s fee is dependent on the case’s outcome. If the client wins or settles, the lawyer receives a percentage of the compensation; if not, no fee is received.