Texas is full of dangerous drivers. Every day, hundreds of negligent and careless drivers get behind the wheel. These drivers could make mistakes that permanently change others’ lives. More than 17,500 Texans suffered serious injuries in car accidents in 2017, according to the Texas Department of Transportation (DOT). Over 3,700 people lost their lives.
If you get into an car accident in San Antonio, take the following steps to increase your odds of achieving a fair settlement. A successful claim might not make up for your losses, but it could help your family through this hard time.
Fulfill Your Legal Obligations as a Driver
All drivers in Texas must complete a list of tasks to fulfill their legal obligations following a car accident. This list starts with stopping and checking for injuries. Failing to stop after an accident that causes personal injuries or property damages is a crime. The penalties for hit-and-run in Texas are fines and jail time. Pull your vehicle over in a safe location near the scene of the accident. Check yourself and others for injuries. Call 911 in certain situations.
- If the crash caused personal injuries
- If the crash caused fatalities
- If the crash caused more than $1,000 in vehicle damages
You must lawfully report the accident to the police immediately in these situations. You then have 10 days from the date of the collision to file a report with the Texas Department of Transportation. If you called the police, the responding officer will typically submit the report to the DOT for you. Otherwise, you will have to file the report yourself. Get copies of all accident reports for your insurance claim. A San Antonio car accident lawyer can help you handle your claim and negotiate with the insurance company while you worry about recovering from injuries.
Protect Your Well-Being
Your health is your number one priority after a car accident. If you notice personal injuries at the scene, request an ambulance. Try to restrict your movements until paramedics arrive. Moving the wrong way could aggravate an injury and make it worse – especially injuries to the back or spinal cord.
Do not tell the responding police officer that you do not have injuries until you have seen a doctor. Even if you feel fine, your adrenaline could be masking aches and pains. You may have a slipped disc, whiplash or traumatic brain injury with delayed symptoms. Instead, say you are not sure and explain that you wish to see a doctor.
Call the Insurance Company
Texas uses a tort-based insurance system. A tort-based system assigns fault to one or both parties for the car accident. The insurance companies involved will determine liability before awarding benefits. File your initial accident claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If you do not know the identity of this party, file with your insurance provider. Do not admit fault for the car accident or downplay your injuries. Stick to the facts of the case, as you know them, and only offer information the insurance company specifically requests.
Be Careful During Claim Negotiations
You might think an insurance company is there to protect you when in reality it wants to save money by limiting the value of your claim. Insurance companies often use questionable tactics or bad faith practices to get out of paying injured parties. Protect yourself from insurance bad faith by trusting your claim with a car accident attorney. Use a lawyer to represent you during insurance claim negotiations to force the company to treat your claim fairly.
Do not accept a car accident insurance settlement until you have consulted with an attorney. The insurer may lowball the value of your claim; something you might not realize until you receive an honest evaluation from a car accident lawyer. If you choose to negotiate your settlement alone, do so with a clear idea of what your case is worth. Otherwise, hire a lawyer to fight for maximum compensation on your behalf. You may need to hire an attorney if the insurance company is unfairly denying your claim or delaying payout.