An accident, in its essence, is unexpected, unplanned, and unintentional. It can happen anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. It does not have to be your fault – you can be as cautious and careful as possible, but it can still happen to you. When you drive your car on the road, there is always a possibility of you and your car getting into an accident no matter how safe the conditions are.
In the US alone, around 6 million car accidents occur each year, approximately 3 million people are injured in these accidents each year, and about 90 people die because of car accidents each day. In 2017, Texas had the highest number of car accidents than any other state, with 3,722 motor vehicle fatalities. Most accidents are caused due to speed-related issues, while other reasons include failure to stay in lane and alcohol influence.
So now that we have established that a car accident can happen to the best of us, the next question that arises is what to do after a car accident?
What to do after a car accident?
The first thing to do is to remain calm. It is easier said than done as after an accident there is a high chance that you will get an adrenaline rush and there are chances of you going into a state of shock, but try your level best not to panic and remain calm. Do not run away from the scene of the accident. Not only is it unethical, but it is also unlawful and can get you into serious legal troubles. If you have the misfortune of being involved in a car accident, stop immediately.
Try to get your car off the road into a safe place if possible, away from the collision course into the oncoming traffic. Turn the hazards of your vehicle on to warn the other vehicles. All this, of course, can be done if you are physically in the position of doing so, thus make sure you and the other people, if any, in your car are safe, and no serious injuries have been incurred. In case there are injuries, immediately call the ambulance services.
After following these steps, you should immediately call the police to inform them of the accident and file a police report. There might be instances where the police cannot come to the scene of the accident for whatever reason, so in that case, you will have to do some of the information gathering for a police report yourself.
You can start by checking to see if there were any witnesses to the scene of the accident. In case there are witnesses present, record their statements, preferably on your phone in an audio recording or ideally on video. Along with the statements of the witnesses, you should also note down their details and contact information.
Even if you think the accident was your fault, never admit it to the other party involved in the accident because firstly you might not be right. It actually might be the fault of the other party or other conditions that you are unaware of at the time, and secondly because it is a conversation that should only be had with the police and your insurance representatives.
The next step after the accident has taken place is to gather all the facts related to the accident. You need to get the complete information of all the people involved in the accident, including the names and addresses.
You also need to gather the details of vehicles involved in the accident, including their make, model, color, registration, and insurance company. It would help if you also made a note of the road and weather conditions at the time and scene of the accident. The most convenient and effective method in this situation is to record photographic evidence of all these things at the scene of the accident.
How important is the police accident report?
Many times people consider ignoring to file a police action report because they think the accident is minor in nature. But many times the extent of the injuries to your body, and the damage to your car is latent and can show days, or even weeks after the accident.
In this scenario, if you decide to seek compensation, a police action report can strengthen your claim. Additionally, the police gather information at the scene of the accident in a very detailed and professional manner and from the view of a third person, which is unbiased.
The information, evidence, and statements gathered by the police in the police accident report can later on come in handy for your attorney in case you are filing charges, or there are charges being filed against you.
A car crash that is reportable takes place every 58 seconds in Texas. When you contact your lawyer after the accident, the first thing you can expect them to ask from you is a copy of the CR-3 or Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report.
Even if you are injured by the accident, this report is required by your lawyer as it is an essential part of your case. An on-duty police officer is required by the Texas law to make a crash report, that is also known in Texas as the CR-3 form, in the case that there has been an injury, a fatality, or property damage that amounts to at least $1000. This report has to be submitted and filed within a time period of ten days.
This police crash report is critical because not only does it contain a detailed description and statement about the accident that took place, but it also includes the opinion of the officer relating to the accident.