If you have been involved in what seems to be a minor vehicle accident in Texas, you may be curious as to whether the incident needs to be reported. Many people are under the impression that unless an accident causes a significant amount of damage or injuries, no report needs to be filed with either insurance companies or the police.
This is not true. All accidents, even minor fender-benders, should be reported. The reasons why are explored below.
Texas Hit-and-Run Laws
Following a collision – even a minor crash – drivers have the legal obligation under the Texas Transportation Code to immediately do the following:
- Stop at or as close to the scene of the accident as possible.
- Return to the scene if the vehicle was not able to stop at that location.
- Determine which people were involved in the accident and if any require aid.
- Remain at the scene until aid can be rendered and information can be exchanged.
Drivers who leave the scene of an accident involving property damage, injury or death could face criminal hit-and-run charges. As hit-and-run is a serious crime in Texas, the extent of damage and injuries will determine whether misdemeanor or felony charges will be filed.
Minor Damage Can Equate to Serious Injuries
When a vehicle is forced to come to a sudden stop as a result of collision, it can cause the occupants’ bodies to be jolted forward and backward or side to side. This force of impact can easily cause head trauma, neck injuries, back injuries, whiplash, cuts, lacerations and other injuries, regardless of whether the vehicle itself sustains any major damage.
Even when the neither of the parties appears to have suffered injuries and no major damage resulted, serious injuries could manifest themselves within hours, days or even weeks. In some cases, it is only after the shock wears off and adrenaline levels go back to normal that pain sets in.
Victims of car accidents should always see a doctor and receive a full medical assessment to determine whether they may have internal injuries, a concussion or head trauma, or other serious conditions. Unless medical treatment is provided, the victim of a car accident may have little evidence to prove his or her injuries were related to the crash.
What to Do After a Minor Car Accident in Texas
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, even if it was a minor incident, what you do after a car accident is important. It is essential that you report the accident to the police and your insurance company as soon as possible. Your first action at the scene should be to call 911, particularly if any party appears to be injured. Wait until police arrive if you are able, so you can give your statement. The police report can be an important piece of evidence in your case and a key component in determining fault, although it is important to remember that the police do not have final say on fault for insurance purposes.
After the car accident, you should take detailed photos of the accident scene, each of the involved vehicles, the damage sustained, and any skid marks, position of the vehicles or other aspects of the crash site that could be helpful. Before you leave the scene of the accident, make sure to gather contact information for each of the drivers involved. Get their names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information, policy numbers and license plates, as well as the vehicles’ makes and models. You should also obtain contact information from any witnesses before they leave the area.
Once you have done this, call your insurance company to report the accident. Failure to do so may result in coverage being denied due to failure to report. If this occurs, you may end up having to pay out of pocket for the costs related to the accident.
Do not admit fault, simply provide the details of the accident and contact information of the parties involved. For help reporting your accident and seeking the compensation you are due, contact an experienced Austin minor accident lawyer for assistance.