What To Do After Being Hit By a Car in Houston
Our Houston lawyers discuss steps you can take to protect yourself
Every day, people throughout the Houston area get in their cars and drive. Some get on their motorcycles. Others go out for a walk or a bike ride. None of them expect to be involved in any type of crash and carefully follow the rules of the road. But it only takes one negligent driver to cause a car accident.
Whether you were hit by a car while driving, as a passenger, or while walking or riding a bike, your life can change in seconds. Suddenly, you are injured and in pain. Immediately after the accident, it can be difficult to think straight as you try to process what just happened. Then you may ask yourself one question.
What do I do now?
Since nobody expects to get into an accident, many people aren’t sure what to do next when they are involved in one. Whether you were hit on I-10, I-69, Main Street, Washington Avenue, or a neighborhood side street, there are steps you can take to protect your health, as well as your right to seek financial compensation.
Call the police.
Some people are reluctant to call the police to the scene of an accident if it seems relatively minor. But it is in your best interests to have police respond, for several reasons. An accident scene can be chaotic and police can help keep everyone safe. They can also ensure that everyone who is injured gets help.
Another thing police will do is conduct an initial investigation of what happened and complete an accident report, known as the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report. This report will contain details about the accident, as well as an officer’s narrative and diagram of the crash. The information in this report will be used when determining financial compensation.
Get medical attention.
Following an accident, it’s normal to feel shaken up. You may think you’re otherwise OK. Or maybe you feel a slight pain in your shoulder or leg, but it doesn’t seem like anything to worry about. You may be focused on just dealing with the accident and going home. The last thing you want to do is go to the hospital.
But it’s important to get a medical exam as soon as you can. Some injuries such as concussions and internal bleeding may have delayed symptoms. That slight pain you feel may be a sign of a more serious injury. Get medical attention, either from emergency medical personnel or from your own doctor, within a day or two.
A doctor can diagnose your injuries and begin treatment. There will also be a medical record of your injuries, which can help with your injury claim.
Gather some information.
Exchange information with the driver who hit you. Get that driver’s name and contact information. Also get the name of the driver’s insurance company. Write down information about the driver’s vehicle, such as the make and model and the license plate number. Also get names and contact information for any witnesses.
Being involved in an accident can be very upsetting, and you may blame the driver for what happened. But it’s important to remain calm. Focus on exchanging information and avoid getting into a discussion about who was at fault. That will be determined later.
You also don’t want to say anything that an insurance company may later use against you. Even a polite apology could be misconstrued as an admission of fault. Just stick to the facts of what happened and leave the why out of it.
Document the scene.
If you are able to do so, take photos and video of the accident scene. Try to get shots from different angles and distances. Get photos of the damage to each car, truck, bike, or other vehicles. Get a photo of the license plate of the car that hit you. Document any street signs, traffic signals, or landmarks near the scene. Also take photos of any visible injuries you have.
Write it down.
Later, when things have calmed down, write down your account of what happened while your memory is still fresh. Include all details that come to mind, even if you’re not sure about their importance.
Notify your insurance company.
If you were operating a motor vehicle at the time of the accident, you are required to tell your insurance company you were involved in a crash. But just stick to basic information – such as who was involved and when and where the accident happened. Don’t discuss your injuries in detail, either. “I’m getting medical treatment” is sufficient.
You are not required to talk to the insurance company representing the driver of the car that hit you. Your attorney can deal with them on your behalf.
Talk to a lawyer.
It’s important to get legal advice as soon as possible following an accident. You may not even be thinking about the possibility of a lawsuit at this point. But you probably will have a lot of questions. A lawyer can review the details of your accident, review your legal options for recovering compensation, and let you know where you stand.
In Texas, the statute of limitations for taking legal action is two years from the date of your accident. So why is it so important to talk to a lawyer ASAP? Strong cases for compensation are built on evidence and witness statements. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that evidence will be lost and witnesses will forget details.
How can a lawyer help?
After being hit by a car, medical expenses for treating your injuries can add up quickly. You may also not be able to work, resulting in a loss of income. This can lead to financial stress. You deserve financial compensation if a negligent driver caused the accident that left you injured.
But recovering compensation is complicated, and dealing with insurance companies can be frustrating. They start with the advantage when handling claims, and they know it. That’s why you need an experienced Houston car accident attorney who will level the playing field. A lawyer can:
- Deal directly with the insurance company on your behalf
- Investigate your accident
- Gather evidence, such as video from traffic cameras
- Interview witnesses
- Consult accident reconstruction experts, if needed
- Determine the total damages you suffered
- Guide you through the legal process
- Answer any questions or concerns you have along the way
- Negotiate a settlement that meets your needs
- Fight for you in court, if necessary.
Car accident cases can get complex. You may have been hit by a company vehicle, hit by a truck, or hit by a bus. You may have been hit as a pedestrian in the crosswalk. You may wonder how your claim is affected if you were hit from behind, on the driver's side, or on the passenger side. You may want to know, “How much should I get in a settlement?” A lawyer can answer all your questions.
Things can get confusing after you were hit by a car. You need an attorney who will stand up for your rights and help you recover the financial compensation you deserve. Contact Smith & Hassler today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer.
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