Dallas Auto Accident Lawyer - What To Do After an Auto Accident

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The following is a list of things "to do" after an auto accident in the DFW and Dallas areas to protect your rights, especially when an injury is involved.  Be sure and complete the following steps if you are involved in an automobile accident in the North Texas / Dallas area (particularly if there is an injury involved).  If you need to discuss your case, call our Dallas auto accident lawyer Doug Goyen at (972) 599 4100 - we have years of experience, have handled thousands of cases, recovered millions of dollars in settlements and judgments.  We can help guide your case so you do not do anything that puts your injury claim at risk:

10 Steps to Take if You Are Involved in an Automobile Accident Involving an Injury:

AT THE SCENE - before you leave you need to: 

1.  Remain Calm:

Try to remain as calm as possible. An auto accident is a traumatic event, especially if you suffer an injury.

2.  Call 911:

Call 911 and get the police to the scene, and an ambulance for anyone injured. Do not accept any excuse for the police not writing an auto accident report. The person who caused the accident may  say one thing at the accident scene, but then say something totally different once they leave the scene. Having the police come and make an auto accident report will help you document and prove who was at fault in the accident.

If you are feeling any pain, you should advise 911 and/or the officer of any complaints of injury.  An ambulance should be sent to check you and make sure you are ok.  If your injury is one where you need to go to the hospital right away, they will let you know.  Additionally, your injury is then documented by emergency personnel in their emergency records and the police officer on his report.  Having your injury documented helps prove your injury was a result of the automobile accident (and was not preexisting or did not occur later - after the accident - which is what the auto insurance company may think if you wait too long for treatment after being injured). Police are sometimes reluctant to write an auto accident report, but you need the information on their accident reports to protect your rights, especially if you suffered an injury.

If there is an injury, make sure 911 sends an ambulance. Just after an accident, when the adrenaline is pumping, people might not realize just how serious their injury is.  You need a medical professional to ensure you are not suffering an injury that is more serious than you realize.  If you, or anyone, has an injury in the accident, emergency personnel should be sent to evaluate the injury and make sure it is not life threatening. People who are walking around and appearing normal can sometimes unknowingly have a life-threatening injury that can and possibly will kill that person if they don't receive treatment immediately. An internal injury cannot be seen. A person may appear perfectly "normal" to you, but if they are complaining of pain, they need to be seen by a medical professional as soon as possible.

3.  Gather Witness Information: 

Obtain names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses. Don't wait for volunteers to come to you, they may think that you already have witnesses and leave. If you see someone who is a witness to what happened, or a witness to the other driver admitting fault, gather that witnesses information. You will likely need to give it to the insurance company later. People involved in accidents often change their story after they leave the scene. Without witnesses, auto accidents often turn into swearing matches (which means the insurance company won't pay).  Get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all the witnesses as soon as possible, and SAVE THIS INFORMATION.

Do not trust the other driver - they may change their story after the leave the scene.  The other driver may act like they are admitting fault at the scene, but once they leave and talk to their spouse or others - they may be convinced to change their story after discussing the facts with others.  People like to justify their behavior after the fact. They think “I’m a good person, surely I didn’t run that red light”, and then that becomes their story to their insurance company, that they didn’t run the red light . . . the other person must have run it. They may have admitted everything to you at the scene, but later on, when they have had the time to think of justifications for their actions, they will make up excuses, or will totally make up a new way the accident happened.    Gather your witnesses information, and keep their information safe and current in case you need it.

4.  Gather Insurance and Contact Information from the Other Driver:

Gather all insurance information at the scene. At the scene of an auto accident, with the police present, most people are cooperative about giving out this type of information. Once you leave the scene, your ability to gather this information decreases.  Some people refuse to give this information at all after you leave the accident scene, which makes getting your automobile repaired, and settling any injury claims you may have, very difficult.  Get the insurance card or information from the other driver(s) (take a picture with your phone). Without this information, it can take a long time to get your vehicle repaired, or get your medical bills or lost income paid. Don't rely on the police to have it at a later date - they may transcribe the information incorrectly, make sure you have the insurance information before you leave the scene.

5.  Take Pictures at the Scene: 

Take photographs of all of the cars, truck, or automobiles involved.  Take photographs at the scene of the auto accident if you can (use your cell-phone camera). A picture speaks a thousand words, as the saying goes. A day later or more, the debris will be cleaned up, skid marks will fade, the automobiles will no longer be in the same resting position. The person who caused the auto accident may have their vehicle fixed the very next day, or they may hide it from you once they leave.  You lose valuable evidence of what the damage to their vehicle looked like, how it was positioned, and what the street and conditions looked like. You may need these photos to prove how the auto accident happened, or to prove how severe the auto accident was.  If you are too injured to do this, contact a friend or family member to come to the scene immediately and take pictures of the vehicles involved, the street, debris, positions of vehicles, skidmarks, and anything else needed to show what happened.

If you can’t take pictures at the scene, see if someone else can. If not, then take pictures of your car as soon as possible at the auto body shop, or at your home, or where ever it is located.

Take pictures that actually SHOW the damage to your car, truck, automobile. The insurance company will take pictures to try to show that there is minor or no damage. They will take pictures in lighting or angles where the damage is obscured by the angle of the photo, or by shadows.  Do not make the mistake of thinking the insurance company treat you fairly.  Protect yourself.  Insurance companies have lawyers on staff for claims, to find, create, and use legal loopholes to try and avoid paying you if possible.  If you were involved in an automobile accident with injuries, you need to call the Dallas car accident attorney Doug Goyen at (972) 599 4100 to protect your rights and protect your injury claim.


6.  If Injured then Follow Up With a Doctor:

If you are involved in an automobile accident with injuries, see a doctor immediately. If you cannot afford a doctor, our Dallas car accident attorney can find a doctor for you in the Dallas / Fort Worth area that will treat you and defer payment until your claim with the insurance company is complete.   You can see your own doctor as well.  Call us so we can discuss which is the best option in your situation considering your health insurance situation, auto insurance involved, and any other insurance or factors that should be considered. 

7.  Take Pictures of Visible Injuries: 

Take photographs of any bruising, cuts, scrapes, lacerations or any visible injury. If you have any visible bruising, cuts, or injury take pictures of that visible part of your injury. It is hard to argue someone did not suffer injury with a picture of a huge black and blue bruise, or cuts, or lacerations. Bruises and cuts go away, and if you don’t take a picture, the insurance company won’t believe you when you tell them you had cuts and bruises, its their job not to believe you if you cannot provide proof.  

8.  Obtain Your Own Repair Estimate for Your Vehicle: 

Get your own estimate of your car, truck, or automobile.  Several Dallas area auto body shops will give you a free estimate. Have your own auto estimate done if possible. The auto insurance companies almost always write the auto estimate for less than the actual damage.   There are several reasons for this. First, they would rather be on the low side than the high side of payment for the automobile's damage. Second, if you decide to keep the money and not fix the car, they end up paying less this way. Third, the lower the amount of damage to the car, the less likely a jury will believe that someone suffered an injury in an accident.   Protect yourself, get your own repair estimate. Be sure and let the insurance company do their estimate for your vehicle as well, but be armed with your own information in case they try to short-change you. Insurance companies often write estimates for less than half what it will really cost to repair the vehicle.  This is common practice.  If you get your vehicle repaired, your body shop will call the appraiser from the insurance company for a "supplement" to pay the amount it will really cost to do the repairs.  

There are many examples of why you want your own estimate.  One example why you want your own estimate is if you decide to trade the damaged vehicle in for another vehicle without repairing it.  In this case you will be shorted the amount you were really owed - as the dealership will give you the value of your vehicle less what it will cost to repair the vehicle (say it will cost $3000 to repair, but they only give you $1500.  Say your car was worth $7500.00 before the collision, but after they deduct the $3000 it will cost to repair.  They give you $4500 on the value of your vehicle - but you only received $1500 from the insurance company - so you end up accepting $6000 on a vehicle where you should have received $7500.   If you are only given half of what it will cost to do the repairs, you are being ripped off - be sure to protect yourself with your own estimates. 

9. Document What You Are Out of Pocket:  

Save all documents showing what you are out of pocket.  Save all towing bills, auto rental bills, storage fees, prescription fees, doctor bills for your injury, medication, other property that was damaged due to the collision . . . anything you were out of pocket that you would not have been out of pocket but for the accident and injury.  We will need documents for everything claimed to ensure you are able to recover the full value of the claim. If you want a full recovery, you have to provide a full record. Save everything.

10.  Hire an Experienced Dallas Auto Accident Lawyer: 

Hire a licensed, experienced, smart personal injury lawyer to handle your accident and injury case.  Insurance companies look for reasons to deny claims.  You do not want to do or say something that harms your rights to recover.  You need an experienced professional to handle your claim in a way that ensures you receive a full recovery.  If you live in the Dallas area, contact a Dallas car accident attorney as soon as possible.  You need to hire someone with experience handling Dallas / Fort Worth area automobile accident injury claims. Someone who will not harm your auto injury claim, and someone who will maximize the benefits you are entitled to receive. Attorney Doug Goyen is an experienced, licensed, and intelligent personal injury lawyer who worked as a claims adjuster for 7 years, and then as a personal injury lawyer for over 20 years - handling cases from presuit negotiations to trials and verdicts.  Call and speak to Dallas car accident attorney Doug Goyen at (972) 599 4100 so we can protect your rights, and maximize your recovery.

If you have incurred an injury in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, you need a Dallas auto accident lawyer to handle your injury claim. Contact an attorney at our office at (972) 599 4100 for a free initial phone conversation today - to see if we can help you with your injury claim / case.  

By Doug Goyen, douggoyen@gmail.com