Auto accidents can be very traumatic and costly events that greatly impact the lives of survivors and the families of those who might not survive them. Unfortunately, some people who cause accidents flee the scene. How you react immediately following a hit-and-run auto accident can make a big difference in how it affects you. It especially could make a difference in who is declared liable for causing the accident. Here are some suggestions on what to do following an accident to help ensure the right parties are held responsible.
Call 911 to Report the Accident
The first thing you should do is call 911 to report the accident. If you are injured and need medical attention, you also should request an ambulance. You never should leave the scene of an accident before the police respond to conduct an investigation. The San Antonio Police Department conducts a standardized accident investigation and compiles a police report of each event. If you leave before the police arrive, you might be accused of a hit-and-run traffic offense, so it is important to call and wait for a police response.
Exchange Contact and Insurance Information
You need to exchange insurance information with any other drivers who might be involved in the accident – even if the offending driver flees the scene. Texas law requires drivers to prove they can pay for damages and injuries, which usually is done with proof of liability insurance. If there are any witnesses, you also should try to exchange contact information with them. Witnesses could help to clear up who caused an accident and who might be liable for the damages.
Get Medical Help as Soon as Possible
The only valid reason to leave the scene of an accident is to obtain emergency medical treatment. Even if you do not think you are seriously injured, you should obtain medical treatment and document the extent of your injuries. The sooner that you get medical treatment, the easier it is to show the accident caused it and obtain an insurance settlement to pay for your medical costs as well as damage to your vehicle and other property when another motorist causes an accident.
File an Insurance Claim
You need to file a well-supported auto insurance claim to obtain insurance settlement funds for the accident when possible. The insurer will initiate the claims process and assign an insurance adjuster to investigate the claim. You should contact your insurer as soon as possible, but you might be delayed if you are hospitalized or otherwise incapable of calling right away due to any accident-related injuries.
Retain an Attorney
It is important to retain an attorney who can uphold your legal rights and present strongly supported claims for relief to insurers and in court when necessary. A car accident lawyer in San Antonio will stop insurers, opposing attorneys, and debt collectors from making direct contact. All communications should go through your attorney, who also can stop any related debt collection activities until the matter is settled. Once the matter is settled, your attorney will collect a fee if you win a settlement, pay any of your related medical bills and other costs, and pay you whatever might be left over.