If you have just been in a wreck, do you know the most important things you should do?
How you proceed is important. The stakes are high.
There are an incredible 80,000 car and truck wrecks in Dallas and Tarrant Counties each year. They happen in the blink of an eye.
But in the shock and pain you are feeling, you won’t be thinking clearly.
So you can easily damage your medical and legal recovery by doing the wrong things. The insurance company is hoping you do and will also try to harm your case so it can pay you less money — or none at all.
Bill Berenson Injury Law handles several hundred crash cases each year. Mr. Berenson only handles vehicle collisions and has almost 40 years experience that can help get you the best possible results.
If you want to try to represent yourself — usually a bad idea — here is what you should do if you have been involved in a car collision in North Texas.
1. Document the details
Even if the other driver just wants to exchange information, you should always call 911.
If property damage is more than $1,000, police are required to write a detailed report which you can rely later on in your negotiations with the other driver’s adjuster or in court, if you decide to take your case to a jury. So don’t let officers just hand you a form you have to fill out yourself and drive off.
Your vehicle needs to be fixed or totaled. You may also incur medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. If the at-fault driver later denies he was at fault or fails to cooperate with his company, your chance of being repaid is difficult, if not impossible, without a police officer backing you up.
When the police arrive, do not admit fault (unless of course you were to blame – then you need to contact your liability insurance company.)
If you are physically able, also do the following:
- Take photos of the vehicles, the other driver, the scene, and any visible injuries you sustained;
- Get info from the other driver (driver’s license, insurance company, policy number, and policy limits if he has those available, make and model of vehicle, and what he says);
- Write down contact info for any witnesses and what they saw; and
- Sketch a diagram of the scene and the position of the vehicles before, at impact and after and make notes about how the crash happened.
2. Get medical treatment quickly
You should go to the emergency room (or at the least, your PCP or a minor emergency clinic) if you are feeling pain within 24 hours.
Pain often is delayed. Ignoring it can make your physical problems worse. Many people naturally hope that the pain will just go away by itself.
When it doesn’t, trying to convince a skeptical adjuster that you had to wait for two weeks after the crash to see a doctor will be a waste of time. He will argue that you were not hurt and refuse to pay your damages, and you will have to file suit and convince a jury.
3. Fight vehicle damage tricks
Some companies deliberately underestimate collision damage while others total a vehicle that could be repaired, a problem if it is paid for and you don’t want to start making payments.
Still others insist on making people use their own body shops or accept used parts or shoddy work.
Sometimes it is beneficial to file on your own collision damage policy. You can get your deductible back.
There are many other tricks that are used to keep the property payment as low as possible.
4. Do not release entire case
Every now and then, an unethical company tells the injured victim that he has to sign a simple release form that supposedly just releases them from liability for property damage but instead, the language releases it from all liability (including for personal injuries).
When the injured person attempts to have his medical bills and other damages paid, the full release is waved in his face. Careful attention to the wording of documents is essential.
You should never sign documents that you do not understand. The help of an attorney can be invaluable.
5. Don’t trust an insurance company
We can’t tell you how often we hear a new client tell us they were shocked that the other driver’s adjuster was not treating them fairly.
Insurance companies are in business to make a profit, not to pay people who claim they were injured in a car wreck.
Despite friendly but vague promises, they usually fail to pay reasonable compensation to people who are not represented by a lawyer.
Instead, they use the 3 D’s: Deny, Delay, and Defend.
Hire a good injury lawyer if you need help
For almost 40 years, Berenson Injury Law has helped car accident victims recover the compensation they deserve and get their lives back to where they were before the crash.
Our 98% success rate means that the odds are excellent that we can get you the results you want.
We have recovered tens of millions of dollars for people just like you. And we never charge a fee or expenses until we win your case.
If you have questions about your collision, please contact us by calling 817-885-8000 (toll-free at 1-801-8585) or by clicking here.