Car accidents are one of the most common causes of serious injuries and deaths in Texas. It is often difficult for a car accident victim to cope with the aftereffects of the collision. It is important to proceed with caution if you get into a car accident in Houston, however, as you could make a mistake that ultimately hurts your chances of securing fair financial recovery from the at-fault party. Avoid the following common mistakes to protect your rights.
Never admit fault for an auto accident outright. Taking the blame for a car accident upfront could automatically eliminate your right to obtain financial compensation from the other driver. An insurance company may accept your admission of guilt without further investigating the car accident, making you financially responsible for the property damage and injuries involved. Instead of admitting fault, allow an investigation to determine the cause of the crash.
One of the most common mistakes made by car accident victims is skipping the phone call to the police from the scene. Many victims are reluctant to involve the police for fear of getting a traffic citation. However, calling 911 from the scene of a car accident is important. An auto insurance company will request a copy of your police report. Failing to call the police could cast doubt on your reliability as a witness and even result in allegations of insurance fraud. Furthermore, the police can help you build a case by gathering key information and evidence from the scene on your behalf.
Even if you feel fine after a car accident, do not assume you have no injuries. Your adrenaline from the car accident could be masking symptoms in the initial hours after a crash. Do not tell the police or your insurance company that you have no injuries. Instead, say you are not sure whether you are injured. Then, go to a hospital right away so a doctor can check for hidden injuries. Follow your doctor’s treatment plan exactly and request copies of your medical records.
If you can, collect any available evidence while still at the scene of your car accident. Failing to collect evidence, such as photographs of the crash scene, could hurt your chances of recovering fair compensation. Do your best to take pictures, speak to eyewitnesses and write down what you remember about the accident. If you are too injured to gather evidence yourself, ask a friend to do so for you.
When it is time to report your car accident to the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company, do not assume the insurance claims adjuster is on your side. The claims adjuster’s main goal is to save the insurance company money by devaluing your claim. Be careful when speaking to an adjuster. Do not admit fault, agree to give a recorded statement or rush into a settlement.
Do not sign anything given to you by an insurance company without first bringing it to a car accident attorney in Houston. The car insurance company may be trying to take advantage of you by asking your permission to access your full medical records (often to search for pre-existing injuries) or accept a low settlement. Once you sign a liability release form, you generally cannot reopen your case or renegotiate for a higher settlement, even if the amount offered was too low. Before signing anything, consult with a lawyer.
Texas has a statute of limitations, or deadline, on the ability to file a car accident lawsuit. This deadline is two years from the date of the car crash, in most circumstances. Your deadline may be longer or shorter based on the facts of your case. If you are filing a lawsuit against the government, for instance, you may have only a few months to bring a lawsuit.
It is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after a car accident. Otherwise, you could make a mistake and give up the right to file a lawsuit forever. An attorney can help you avoid all the most common mistakes people make after car accidents in Texas.