Injury Attorney in Texas

Motor Vehicle Collisions

Whether you’re a passenger or driver, knowing precisely what to do when you’re in an motor vehicle collision is the second most important incident related factor. The first is your health and the health of those involved. So if you are able, check with all parties involved, and through prompt communication, determine the level of injury that has occurred. If anyone is severely injured - short of a gas leak, electric sparks, a vehicular fire or other high risk factors in the accident area - do not attempt to move the person. Call 911 immediately, and request a medical transport if necessary. However, once you’ve determined the condition of the parties and extent of their respective injuries:

Scan the Area Immediately for Witnesses: Some folks will come forward, but more often than not, people do not wish to get involved.  If you were not at fault, and you noticed someone has witnessed the collision, get their contact information.  Kindly ask if they will stick around to give their eye witness account to the first responding officer. In addition, scan the area to see if there are any surveillance cameras (traffic control cameras, business/security cameras, etc.) that may have recorded the incident, and make a note of this.

Report the Accident: Most jurisdictions require you “steer it and clear it” but do so cautiously. If you were not at fault, call local law enforcement so you can document the incident with an accident report. In Texas, a Department of Transportation (DOT) Crash Report, Form CR-3 will be completed by the officer on the scene. Tell the reporting officer exactly what happened; depending on the circumstances, the officer may assign fault to the opposing party, even writing them a citation for violating a traffic law.

Exchange information: Speak with the other driver, but limit your conversation to the exchange of insurance information, driver’s license number, and license plate number. During your verbal exchange, try to determine whether or not the driver is impaired.  If you have your cell phone handy, take a picture of the driver’s insurance card and driver’s license to ensure accuracy. Do not discuss the accident in any manner whatsoever; as these statements can possibly be used against you in any future insurance claim.

Take Pictures - lots of them: Pictures of the accident scene are critical. Make sure you include:

  • · Exact location of the accident scene, and all vehicles and/or other moving apparatus involved.

  • · Damage done to your vehicle – all angles – as well as damage to the other vehicle.

  • · Damage to all other tangible, stationary items (streetlight, trees, fences, houses, etc.).

  • · Accident debris lying on the roadway (separated car body parts, personal items etc.).

  • · Weather at the time of accident.

  • · Any signs depicting the type of road or driving restrictions.

  • · Brake or skid marks on the roadway

If your able at the time, pictures of your injuries immediately following the collision are imperative.

Also: keep a disposable camera and spare cellphone battery in your glove box in case one or the other is damaged in the accident.

Write/Record a Description of the Accident: Jot down a few notes regarding how the collision occurred while it is fresh in your mind. If available, use your cell phone to record an audio/video message briefly describing the accident. This will be tremendously helpful documentation if/when you proceed with your personal injury case.

Seek Medical Treatment: This is both the first and last action you take. Even after a traumatizing event like a car wreck, many injuries take days – sometimes even weeks – to manifest. After an automobile collision, it’s important you seek medical treatment even if you feel fine at the time. There are two important reasons for this: (a) early diagnosis is always best, and (b) should you later encounter pain or other symptoms, it’s much easier to establish a link between the injuries and the collision. Also, keep a copy of all medical records, reports and medical billing directly associated with your accident.

The Rule: The at-fault third party will usually claim - through their insurance company and/or corresponding legal representatives - that you are somehow to blame for the accident. And occasionally, he injured party may share partial blame. Texas follows a modified “comparative negligence” rule, which means that the amount of compensation you’re entitled to receive will be reduced by the percentage of fault you are deemed to have contributed. In addition, if you are found to be more than 50% legally at-fault, you would collect nothing from all other at-fault parties.

Epilogue: During a four-year stretch (2011 – 2014, inclusive), automobile fatalities on Texas roads and highways increased a whopping 14.62% - costing the state an estimated economic loss of $28.8 billion. Even with enhanced automobile safety features, driving has become an increasingly dangerous activity. The increased, unauthorized (and frequently unlawful) use of cellular phones while driving - whether talking, texting, or simply for audio enjoyment - has infiltrated the automobile’s once impenetrable sphere of safety.

Call Setterberg Law Office to learn more. And drive safe out there.