Anytime a person is involved in an auto accident, it can be a traumatic experience. For those involved in a drunk driving accident or hit by a negligent driver, the accident can take an even greater emotional toll. Every year across the country, there are more than 2.1 million traffic accidents. Many Texas drivers must commute over long stretches of roads and highways in their everyday lives. With an increase in population across the state and, subsequently, more drivers on the road, Texas drivers should know what to do following a Lubbock car accident that is not their fault.
The first priority after any motor vehicle collision is to care for the people involved. If you or someone else in your car or at the scene was hurt, call for help immediately. If you or another passenger is able to take the following steps, it can help your personal injury case:
First Steps After a Car Accident
First and most importantly, following a car accident, regardless of who’s at fault, assess all persons involved in the wreck and seek necessary medical attention as soon as possible. For drivers who were hit but did not cause the accident, the steps below are crucial in protecting themselves against fraudulent claims.
Sadly, many negligent drivers who are at fault for accidents are willing to resort to sharing false information with the authorities and insurance companies in an attempt to avoid assuming responsibility (and paying) for an auto accident they caused. For this reason, non-fault drivers should not discuss fault with any other drivers. Although drivers may feel the need to apologize and use forgiving language, this could be viewed as admitting responsibility and can complicate a claim further.
Report the Accident
After making sure no one involved in the accident needs medical care, call the police to report the wreck. While this is standard advice for any car accident, it is crucial for drivers who are not at fault to have official documentation of the incident. Police reports contain important information about car crashes that insurers will use to evaluate the claim. Additionally, police reports provide an overview of how the accident happened, including the date, time, and location, as well as any citations issued at the scene.
Your Health Comes First
The first thing you should do after a car accident is to call 911. Get checked out, even if you do not feel any injuries. If you are physically able, check on the others who were involved in the accident so that you can describe their condition to the 911 operators.
Following a car accident, whether you realize it or not, you could be in shock. You could also experience a jolt of adrenaline. Both of these incidents would camouflage pain from an injury.
Not all injuries can be seen with the naked eye. You could have experienced internal damage. Get checked out by a healthcare professional to ensure your own health and safety.
Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions
If you go to the emergency room, they will check you out and run any tests that the staff there deem necessary. After determining the extent of your injuries, a plan for your treatment will be established. Depending on your injuries, treatment could be fast, and you could be released the same day, or you could require more intensive medical treatment.
No matter how minor or serious you feel that your injuries are, you must follow doctor’s orders and attend any follow-up visits that they suggest. This helps keep you safe as well as demonstrates to a court, if it comes to that, that you took your injuries seriously and did all you could to improve. While you may feel great and not want to bother with another doctor’s appointment, if the doctor who treated you wants you to return, it is in your best interest.
Being compliant with the medical treatment you are offered is key. You may be asked to come in for surgical procedures or to follow up on procedures you had when the car accident first happened. If it is prescribed, you may have to attend therapy.
Consider that everything you do now can affect your insurance claim later. Following the doctor’s instructions to the letter shows how seriously you take your own well-being.
You May Qualify for Compensation
Since you were not at fault in the accident, you are eligible for compensation for damages you may have suffered. These damages could include economic, non-economic, and occasionally punitive. Listed below are some of the damages to which you might be entitled, beginning with economic damages:
- Medical bills may quickly mount. Emergency room visits, ambulance rides, hospital stays, procedures and surgeries, follow-up treatments, and doctor’s visits, along with visits with specialists, can get very expensive very fast.
- Lost income, if you are out of work, can make the mounting bills feel that much more stressful. If you have missed work or will miss out on future work, your damages claim will calculate how much income you have lost and will lose in the future.
- Loss of educational opportunities and car accidents may cause you to miss school or to get behind in classes to the point they must be repeated.
- Home alterations may be necessary. These can be expensive but are necessary so that you can feel comfortable living in and are able to use your home. These modifications may include ramps, stair lifts, wider doorways, grab bars and handrails, customized bathrooms with wide doorways and roll-in showers, and more.
- Transportation costs could be as simple as Ubering or driving yourself to the doctor or as serious as going to the hospital by airlift or ambulance. Whatever the method of transport, you are going to spend money on it and should be reimbursed.
- If the worst happened and the accident was fatal, the victim’s surviving loved ones may be entitled to reimbursement for funeral costs.
- Property damage reimbursement might be in order if your vehicle or other personal property was damaged in the car accident. This may mean repairs or replacement of your automobile, telephone, laptop, or any other property that may have been broken in the wreck.
- If the wreck has rendered you unable to take care of your children, you might be eligible for compensation for those costs.
- Therapy and rehabilitative costs may also be an expense caused by the accident.
Non-Economic Damages You May Be Entitled To
Non-economic damages are often more difficult to calculate. These are losses or damages sustained as a result of the accident that did not cost you money but interfered with your everyday life.
- Pain and suffering is a phrase used to describe the physical pain and mental anguish you suffered due to the car accident.
- Emotional distress describes the trauma you may have sustained because of the car accident. This could be conditions like depression, anxiety disorders, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Loss of enjoyment of life is a type of damage you can ask for if you can no longer live your life the way you once did. Being unable to participate in things you once enjoyed can detract from your life enjoyment.
- Loss of consortium may be owed to a spouse or partner who has lost partnership or intimacy because of the wreck.
- Scarring and disfigurement resulting from the accident can require painful treatments and often shame and embarrassment. Depending on your injuries, this may be considered one of your demands.
- Loss of reputation may occur if your reputation was in some way damaged because of the accident.
Punitive Damages are Possible
If the at-fault party involved in the accident acted heinously, willfully, deliberately, or recklessly and caused harm, they may be liable for punitive damages. Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the defendant behaved particularly evilly.
It can be used to punish the defendant and discourage repeat behavior. It may act as a cautionary tale to others not to repeat the behavior.
In Texas, there is a cap on punitive damages. Texas juries must unanimously agree to punitive damages. The jurors also determine the amount of punitive damages that should be awarded.
The caps on punitive damages make things complicated. These caps are not shared with the jury. So, though a jury might award the plaintiff with a large compensation package, the damages will be reduced, and in some cases, punitive damages may be overturned.
Contact Your Insurance Company
It’s important to notify your insurance carrier as soon as you can after a wreck to inform them that you have been involved in an auto accident and that you are not at fault. Unfortunately, it is up to the at-fault driver to notify their insurance company of the incident, and as you may imagine, this seldom occurs. Because the at-fault driver, their insurance company, or another responsible third party will be liable for damages, it is essential to contact your own auto insurance company and provide them with the at-fault driver’s insurance information and contact information, as well as a police report number to get started on your claim.
The benefits of contacting your insurance company while at the scene of the accident include quickly starting on your claim plus finding out what information you can collect that will expedite the process, such as what additional documents are needed.
If someone hits you and you or another are physically able, you should take photos or video of your vehicle as well as the other driver’s vehicle from all angles. This will allow you to prove points of impact that will solidify the other driver’s fault. Additional information to collect from the scene includes:
- Driver’s personal information (Driver’s license, contact information)
- Driver’s insurance information
- Witness contact information
- Photos of any injuries sustained (including cuts and bruising)
- Notes regarding the car accident itself
- Location of accident and direction of travel
- Citation number and police report number
Car accidents can leave victims frazzled and confused. After a crash, it is common for victims not to be able to recall everything about the collision or to be able to give a detailed and accurate statement. Simply put, car accident victims have a lot to worry about, and representing themselves in court should not be one of them.
We are dedicated to helping auto accident victims and aggressively seek compensation so our clients can focus on healing. If you or a loved one was injured in a motor vehicle crash, contact the car accident lawyers at Liggett Law Group today. There is limited time to act following an auto accident in Texas, so don’t delay.