What to Do in Case of an Accident
Professor Richard M. Alderman
The People's Lawyer
Failure to stop can result in serious criminal consequences.
- Render Aid
If anyone is injured:
- Render first aid if you are qualified;
- Stop the injured person’s bleeding;
- Call an ambulance or a doctor or both; and
- Do not move an injured person in any way that could possibly add to his or her injuries.
- Protect the Scene from Further Damage
You may be liable for damages to approaching drivers, unless they are properly warned.
If the highway is obstructed at night, illuminate the accident scene if possible.
- Call an Officer
Police officers, highway patrol officers, and sheriffs and their deputies are trained accident investigators whose testimony may be important if you later seek civil damages.
- Gather Information – Write It Down
You should have an "emergency accident form" handy, available free-of-charge from the State Bar of Texas. Fill it out completely and be specific. Do not trust your memory.
- Measure skid marks;
- Step off distances; and
- Obtain names and addresses of witnesses.
- Be Careful What You Say
Even if you feel you might be at fault, it is best to make no statements to anyone about who caused the accident. Certainly, you should cooperate with the police and answers questions about what occurred. You may learn later that the other driver was equally at fault, or more so.
- See Your Doctor
Serious injuries do not always result in immediate pain or bleeding. If there is a chance that you may be injured, see a doctor.
- Consult Your Lawyer Immediately
The sooner your lawyer is brought into the matter, the better he or she can advise you and protect your rights. Your lawyer can obtain statements from witnesses while their memories are fresh, and do many other things to ensure that the true facts are preserved.
Get your lawyer’s advice before giving any interviews or statements to investigators or adjusters.
- Report the Accident to the Department of Public Safety
An accident report is required by law to be filed with the Department of Public Safety within 10 days of the date of the accident if there is injury, death, or damages exceeding $500. An official form is available from your local police, sheriff’s department, or highway patrol, or from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
- Inform Your Auto Insurance Company Promptly
Failure to do so may void your policy.
Remember that your vehicle must be covered by liability insurance. You must carry proof of insurance in your vehicle at all times and furnish this information to a law enforcement officer if involved in an accident.
This page was adapted from the brochure, "What to Do in Case of an Auto Accident," prepared as a public service by the State Bar of Texas.
For a free copy, which includes an "emergency accident form," call (800)204-222, Ext.2610.