Facing long-term injuries, in too much pain to work, and unsure of where to get help, a lot of injured Dallas car accident victims seek guidance from their car insurance providers.
This can be a very expensive mistake. Never discuss your car accident with an insurance company or accept a settlement before consulting with an experienced lawyer first.
The right lawyer will protect your rights and, on average, get you more money for your injuries. While your lawyer will do most of the work, there are some things you can do – and not do – after a crash to help strengthen your case.
1. Make sure you are safe, then call 911
Make sure you are safe, then call 911. Wait at the scene until law enforcement arrives. In Dallas, that will most likely be the Dallas Police, Texas Highway Patrol, or the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office. Leaving the scene of an accident before the police get there could result in charges.
When an officer arrives, make sure to get their name, badge number, and agency. This will make it easier for you to find an important piece of evidence, your Texas Crash Report, when it becomes available. Also, get checked out by an emergency medical responder. Even if you feel okay, you may be seriously injured with a concussion, spinal cord injury, or cracked bone.
2. Start gathering evidence at the scene
Take photos and video of the accident scene. Make sure to capture how the vehicles are positioned, physical evidence like skid marks, injuries to yourself and others, and any property damage. Get names and contact information from witnesses.
As soon as you are able, write down a timeline of events. Make note of the time, weather, road conditions, action leading to the crash, and how you are physically feeling.
Do not get into detail about your injuries or the crash with the police or the insurance company. Whatever you say may be used against you to justify rejecting or reducing your insurance claim. Never mention fault. Do not say “I’m sorry” or “I wasn’t paying attention.” Cooperate, be polite, and stick to the facts - time, date, place, name, etc. Then call a lawyer to handle any further questions and requests.
3. See a doctor as soon as possible
Even if you were checked out at the crash scene, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. A doctor who specializes in trauma care, like an orthopedic doctor or surgeon, has the time, training, and resources to give you a more thorough exam. The staff at emergency care facilities like Medical City Dallas Hospital and Baylor University Medical Center have a lot of experience with car accident victims. You may also choose to see your primary care physician. Whoever you see, it will help your case – and health – to follow their orders.
The visit will create a medical report that outlines the extent of your injuries and how they happened. Save anything to do with your crash injuries – medical records, receipts, bills, etc. Keep a journal of your injuries, how they develop, and how they detract from your daily life. This evidence will give your attorney even more firepower during negotiations. The sooner you see a doctor after a crash, the less likely an insurance adjuster is to claim that your injuries aren’t from a crash.
4. Notify your insurance company – but be careful
For a successful injury claim, most insurance companies require you to notify them soon after a car accident. When you contact your car insurance to report the crash, stick to the facts – time, date, people involved, place, etc. Do not go into detail about the accident or your injuries. Anything you say to an insurance company – even your own – may be used against you to reject or reduce your claim.
Remember, you do not have to talk with the other driver’s insurance company at all – so don’t do it.
Your Dallas car accident attorney can handle communication with the insurance company for you. This will help protect your right to compensation and let adjusters know that you are serious about recovering compensation.
5. Call a Dallas car accident lawyer
It’s never too early to call a lawyer after a bad car accident – but it can be too late. Once you accept a settlement from the insurance company, your case is closed. It doesn’t matter how badly the insurance company shortchanged you – it is usually impossible to go back and get more money for your injuries after taking a settlement.
How Do I Get My Dallas Car Accident Report?
In Texas, every car accident that causes bodily injury, death, or more than $1,000 in property damage gets a crash report.
The document is a key piece of evidence in most accident claims. It tells the story of your Dallas car accident – how it happened, who was involved, damages and injuries, etc. It is often critical in determining fault. Therefore, it also impacts how much you will recover.
It’s important that you know what is in your accident report. Getting a copy starts with figuring out who responded to the crash. Around here, that would most likely be the Dallas Police, Texas Highway Patrol, or the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office.
Once you know who wrote the report you can choose how to access it. Also known as a Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (CR-3), copies cost about $6-$8 each and are usually available 5-10 days after a reportable crash. Online access is typically immediate upon payment, but a mailed-in request can take up to 30 days to process. Skip the hassle by using the form on this page to get your complimentary accident report.
Buying your crash report online
For online crash report purchases, all three local agencies use the Texas Department of Transportation’s Crash Records Information System.
Getting copies by mail or in-person
Here are some other ways to get a copy of your crash report:
To get a report from the local police without going online, call the Dallas Police Traffic Division during regular business hours. They will advise you on how to proceed. The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office accepts requests through the mail or in person.
To get a Texas Highway Patrol copy by mail, go to TxDOT online, download, print, and fill out a request form (CR-91). Mail the completed form along with a check or money order, payable to the Texas Department of Transportation, to Crash Data and Analysis, Texas Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 12879, Austin, Texas 78711. TxDOT will not accept requests by email or fax.