It's a typically beautiful San Antonio day and you are taking your visiting parents sightseeing. You have just finished up a tour of The Alamo, a.k.a. "The Shrine of Texas Liberty," and are headed to the River Walk for a late lunch. Suddenly, as you approach Highway 281, you feel yourself under siege as you are hit by a truck. What do you do now? What steps should you take? Here is some information to help you navigate after a car accident in San Antonio.
Immediately After the Crash
Most importantly, stop at the scene of the accident or as close as is safely possible without obstructing traffic more than is necessary. Next, determine whether anyone is hurt. If so, call 911 to have emergency personnel sent out immediately.
Texas law requires that you remain at the scene of the accident until driver information is exchanged and reasonable assistance is provided to any injured parties. Leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death before this time is a felony, punishable by imprisonment, fines, or both.
Be sure to stop even if the accident involves only vehicle damage. In fact, Texas law requires you to stop and provide information even in cases where you strike an unattended vehicle, and to take reasonable steps to locate and notify the property owner when you strike a structure, fixture or highway landscaping. So, stopping is a necessary first step in any accident.
Once you are in a safe place and any injuries have been addressed, you should exchange all relevant information with the other driver. This includes:
- Drivers' license numbers;
- Insurance company names and policy numbers;
- License plate numbers;
- Vehicle identification numbers; and
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers.
At this time, it is also a good idea to collect the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident and take pictures. You may also wish to note down any relevant weather and/or traffic conditions.
Should You Call The Police?
If there is no (or only minimal) vehicle damage and no one is hurt, it may not be necessary to call the police. However, according to the Texas Department of Transportation, police should still be called if there is a suspicion that one of the drivers is intoxicated, one of the drivers does not have insurance, or one of the drivers leaves the scene of the accident.
If you decide not to call the police, and the accident results in injury, death or anticipated damage of $1000 or more, a Driver's Crash Report (Form CR-2) must be completed within 10 days of the collision. Failure to file can subject you to court costs and up to $500 in fines.
All Apologies? Whose Fault is it Anyway?
It is generally not advisable to admit fault after an accident. Although you may think you were in the wrong, the cause of the accident could actually have been a defective part in your car or a poorly maintained driveway. Whatever the case, assessing legal liability can be complicated, and you want to make sure not to admit to anything unintentionally or unnecessarily.
Insurance Requirements and Contact
If you are driving in San Antonio, it is likely that you have automobile insurance. In order to operate a motor vehicle in Texas, you must establish that you are financially responsible for that vehicle. A common way to do this is through automobile liability insurance.
The minimum automobile liability insurance limits in Texas are known as 30/60/25 coverage. Specifically, this means:
- $30,000 for each injured individual (total of $60,000 per accident); and
- $25,000 for property damage.
When you get home after an accident, it is a good idea to contact your automobile insurance provider and report the accident to them right away.
Texas has established relatively short deadlines for insurance companies to act after you file a claim. Specifically, within 15 days of filing a claim on your policy, the insurance company must acknowledge receipt of your claim and request any additional information. Within 15 days of receiving the requested additional information, the insurance company must approve or deny your claim. Once the claim is approved, it must be paid within 5 business days.
Getting An Attorney
You may wish to hire a lawyer to help you after the accident, especially if any injuries were sustained. A skilled attorney can assist you in determining what next step is best in your situation. If you think you may consult an attorney, don't wait too long. In San Antonio, as in the rest of Texas, you have two years to bring a personal injury claim.
Compensation and Damages
Depending on the extent of the accident, you may have a claim for damages (monetary compensation). There are a variety of damages you can claim following a car crash, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you retain an attorney, he or she can help you decide how to proceed.