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What should I do after a car accident?

No one ever expects to be involved in an accident, but they do happen in Texas with rather frightening regularity. If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in one, obviously the first thing you should do is to make sure that you, your passengers, and the people in the other vehicle(s) are okay. If not, call 911 immediately to request emergency assistance from first responders and law enforcement officials.

As FindLaw explains, there are further things that you must do. Under Texas law, you must file a Crash Report (Form CR-2) within 10 days if anyone dies or is injured in the accident, or if there is property damage in excess of $1,000, but the accident is not investigated by law enforcement for whatever reason. This form is available online.

Immediately after the accident you also should do the following:

  • Exchange information with all other drivers, including contact, vehicle and insurance information.
  • Get contact information from any witnesses.
  • Take pictures of the vehicles and the accident scene with your cellphone.
  • Write notes of weather and road conditions at the time of the accident.
  • Never say or indicate that you caused the accident, even if you feel you might have been at fault; subsequent investigation may or may not back up your initial feelings.

Texas insurance law

Texas is both a “fault” state and a “modified comparative negligence” state. What this means is that you have the right to file an insurance claim and/or a lawsuit against the driver who was at fault in the accident. If you decide to file suit for personal injury or property damage, you must do so within two years of the date on which the accident occurred. However, you may be barred from collecting damages, or your damages may be reduced, if the accident was partially your fault.

You should file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. Once you provide them all the necessary things they require in order to make a determination, they must accept or reject your claim within 15 days. If they accept all or any part of your claim, they must pay you within five business days thereafter. Should they reject your claim, they must explain why they did so. While this information should not be taken as legal advice, it can help you understand the process and what to expect.

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