Car accidents are terrible. What's scary is that sometimes they are completely unavoidable and not your fault. Still, you can learn the law so that you can be prepared for the worst. FindLaw is here to help.
Outsiders think of Texas as being rowdy, and having thousands of students at a thriving university here in Austin only adds to that reputation. Truth be told, Texas has a set of laws to bring order to the chaos surrounding a collision. Here are the laws and guidelines for what to do after a car accident in Austin.
The number one rule is safety first. Beyond that, the State has specific rules for what you must do after an accident.
Safely Stop the Car and Remain Onsite
If possible, pull to the side of the road, or some other safe location, as near to the accident as possible. Return to the scene and meet with the other parties to exchange information (see below) and check for injuries.
State law requires drivers to exchange information. If you were driving, you must provide:
- Your name and address;
- Your vehicle's registration number;
- The name of your car insurance provider; and
- Your driver license if requested.
Similarly, you should request all of this information from the other driver(s). Write it down, and use your technology. Your cell phone (which we know you were not using while driving) likely has a camera. Take a picture of the other drivers' licenses and insurance cards. Insurance cards can feature multiple sets of numbers and lots of information. The picture may help you answer questions later.
Provide "Reasonable Assistance" for Injuries
The law requires you to personally transport to the hospital or make arrangements for transporting anyone who appears to be injured or requests the transportation. If you have any doubts about whether it is safe to drive or move an injured person, call 911.
Other Specific Duties
Drivers involved in a crash have additional duties if they strike unattended cars or damage property adjacent to the road way. Generally you must contact the owner or leave a note. Provide the same information that you would provide if you were to exchange information with another driver. If you do not feel comfortable leaving a note and cannot find the property owner, it's best to contact law enforcement.
Notify Law Enforcement
You must notify the local police department or sheriff's office if the accident resulted in death or bodily injury. You must also notify law enforcement if the cars cannot be driven off of the road. Here are some hints to help you find the correct law enforcement office.
What Will Law Enforcement Do After the Accident?
An officer may investigate the accident if it resulted in the death or injury of a person or at least $1,000 in property damage. If the accident resulted in death, injury or $1,000 of damage, but an officer does not investigate the accident, the driver(s) must complete a Driver's Crash Report (Blue Form), available online. You have ten days to file the report with the Texas Department of Transportation.
What Are Some of the Legal Consequences for an Accident?
Liability for the Accident
Generally speaking, you will only be liable for an accident where you were at fault. Most insurance providers advise drivers not to admit fault because it can be a complex legal issue. In most cases, it is best to simply notify your insurance provider because the company's lawyers will work with other attorneys to determine fault. If you do not have insurance, or you fear that the collision goes beyond your coverage, you may want to contact a Greater Austin car accident attorney.
Recovery for Your Losses
If you were not at fault, generally you can receive payments for your losses due to a car accident. You can go to court to recover for your personal injuries and property damage. Many local attorneys provide this kind of assistance. They may charge you nothing up front and instead take a percentage of what you receive. When searching for representation, ask about this arrangement, known as a "contingency agreement." Act swiftly because individuals usually only have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim.
Contact an Attorney After Your Car Accident
It can be very difficult to know what to do after a car accident in Austin, or anywhere else for that matter. This outline is meant to be helpful, but a lawyer's assistance can be essential to clarifying your rights and obligations. Contact a local car accident attorney to learn more about how to proceed.