What to do After a Car Accident (Updated 2017)


Last Updated on July 31st, 2017

Auto Accidents are unexpected and stressful. Even the most careful drivers may be involved.  Hopefully these tips will give you guidance on what to do after a car accident.

Before the accident

Prepare the trunk of your car for a possible accident as well by making sure you have:

  • A set of cones;
  • Warning triangles; emergency flares;
  • A pen and a card with relevant medical information for you and your family.
  • A copy of our free accident form which can go in your glove compartment and/or our Car Accident App.

What to do after a car accident:

  1. Stay as calm as possible.
  2. Check for injuries. Life and health are more important than damage to vehicles. When in doubt, call an ambulance.
  3. If the accident is minor and there are no serious injuries (meaning only soft tissue injuries), move cars to a safe place, rather than risk being in moving traffic.  If there are serious injuries, do not move the seriously injured person until EMS arrives unless they are in more danger by remaining where they are.
  4. Turn on hazard lights. If warranted, and possible, use cones, warning triangles or flares for safety.
  5. Make sure you get the other driver’s name, address, and insurance information.
  6. Call the police, even if the accident is minor.
  7. Notify your insurance company about the accident immediately.
  8. Don’t sign any document unless it is for the police or for your insurance company.
  9. Make immediate notes about the accident including the specific damages to all vehicles involved.  If the name on the auto registration and/or insurance policy is different from the name of the driver, establish the relationship and jot it down. Get witness information, if possible, as well.
  10. Use your cell phone camera to take pictures of the scene (preferably before the cars are moved), debris in the roadway, the vehicles (inside and out, all around), and the identification cards of the witnesses and other drivers.
  11. Be polite, but don’t tell the other drivers or the police that the accident was your fault, even if you think it was. Likewise, do not accuse the other drivers of being at fault at this time. Everyone is usually shaken up immediately after an accident, and it is wise to state only the facts. Limit your discussion of the accident to the insurance agent and the police. Even if the facts are embarrassing or detrimental to you, be truthful.
  12. If possible, do not leave the accident scene before the police officers and other drivers do.
  13. Finally, remember that while getting the facts is very important, investigating the accident should be left to the police officers, the insurance companies, and your lawyer.
what to do after a car accident pamphlet image

Hopefully these tips of what to do after a car accident will help you in after a car crash.  Other articles you may be interested in:

If you were involved in an accident in Texas, we’ll be happy to mail it to you (together with a host of other free stuff.) You can either email us, call us, or request one of our free consumer reports.

When Do You Need a Car Accident Attorney?


Last Updated on July 31st, 2017
car accident attorney needed

Car Accident

Getting into a car accident is usually the last thing we think will happen, but it can happen in the blink of an eye. In the United States, families drive at least one car and with burgeoning populations in urban America, and lots of driving for recreational purposes even in remote mountainous areas,  the sheer numbers of cars on the roads would indicate that many of us are at risk of being in a vehicular accident. If it happens to you, there are facts you should know concerning making a decision to hire a car accident attorney or not.

Tips on Hiring a Car Accident Attorney

First, understand there are three general categories into which your case will fall. Not all require the services of an attorney. Let’s look at the three most common types of cases.

Property Damage Cases

If you were in a car, truck or motorcycle accident but did not sustain personal physical injuries, your case can most likely be settled without the services of a lawyer. The opposing insurance company adjuster will help settle the case for approximately the same dollar amount that you would get by hiring an accident lawyer. With no physical injuries, you should expect to receive the funds needed to repair or replace your vehicle, and perhaps even have the cost of a rental covered until the work is finished. You will obtain estimates from reputable body shops and get informed as to the fair market value should your vehicle need to be replaced. After collecting a few quotes, compare them to the quotes from the adjuster who is working with the insurance company. Kelly Blue Book is a great reference manual to look at fair market value on your vehicle if it has been deemed as “totaled.”

Minor Injuries

There is a more complex protocol required if you have suffered minor injuries. If you expect a fast recovery, perhaps you don’t need an attorney to be involved at all. By definition here, minor injuries are when medical bills are under a thousand dollars. If you don’t hire an attorney, please take time to educate yourself thoroughly by studying some self-help guides available to assist you in negotiating with an adjuster who will be assigned from an insurance company. If you choose to hire an attorney to help you with minor injuries, you will probably receive a lower settlement, simply based on the lower claim value.

Major Injuries

If your accident has resulted in more than some property damage or minor injuries, then it’s definitely the time to hire a car accident attorney. There will be aggressive negotiations required with large insurance companies and their adjusters, and the average person doesn’t have the know-how or experience to do this and come out on top. In fact, if you don’t hire a lawyer, you’ll be at a huge disadvantage.  In more serious cases insurance adjusters will do their best to convince you not to hire an attorney, telling you this would greatly reduce the settlement you deserve, or that it would create an untimely delay in receiving settlement funds. To the contrary, statistics from insurance companies in the industry do not support this, and show otherwise. The Insurance Resource Council reports that accident victims received more than three times the money they would have had they not had a lawyer representing their interests. So, do yourself a favor and don’t try to settle major injury cases on your own!  You’ll need the services of an experienced car accident attorney who deals specifically with personal injury cases.

Don’t add the stress of handling your own case while you are healing from injuries sustained in an accident.  Leave yourself free to concentrate on your family and on getting your life back to normal.

Contact an Austin car accident attorney at the Traub Law Office today or call (512) 343-2572.

Subrogation


Last Updated on July 31st, 2017

Insurance Subrogation

Insurance Subrogation Claims

Subrogation is the legal technique where one party, usually the insurance company or insurer, steps into the insured’s shoes, so as to have the benefit of the insured’s rights and remedies against a third party such as a defendant.  Subrogation most commonly arises in relation to policies of insurance, but the legal technique is of more general application.

So, let’s say you are in a car accident and you are insured by a certain auto insurance company.  Your insurance company will pay in full to have your car repaired and will then sue the person who hit you for negligence in order to get that money back.  So, we can say that your insurance company has stepped into your shoes because you have given your insurance company the right to pay for the damages as well as go after the defendant (or the right of subrogation).

Here’s another example:

Suppose you’re in a car accident and it is clearly not your fault.  Your car is wrecked and your neck and back have been injured.  You are covered for both the damage to your car and your personal injuries, and so you call your insurance company and they pay all of your expenses relating to the accident.  Later, your insurance company, realizing that the other party at fault also has insurance that will cover the damages, seeks out reimbursement from that insurance company since its insured was actually at fault for the accident.  This is called subrogation.

Subrogation refers to an insurance company seeking reimbursement from whoever is legally responsible for an accident after the insurer has paid out money on behalf of its insured.  After paying your claim, your insurer is “subrogated” to the rights of your policy and can “step into your shoes” to go after or sue the negligent party on your behalf.  Not all insurers subrogate for medical bills.  If they do, it could be against the other driver’s insurance, but it could also be against your own separate health insurance policy or any other medical insurance that would cover your treatment.

Subrogation may also be employed when your insurer settles your collision claim for damage to your vehicle due to another driver’s negligence.  Generally, your insurer will have you sign a subrogation release that assigns your right of recovery against the person responsible for your loss to them. Insurers may not stall settling your claim until they get paid from the person at fault. Subrogation usually occurs some time after the original claim is settled.  Some insurers will include the deductible when they subrogate and you will get your deductible back when the other driver or their insurance company pays the subrogation claim.

There are several categories of subrogation including:

  • Indemnity insurer’s subrogation rights
  • Surety’s subrogation rights
  • Subrogation rights of business creditors
  • Lender’s subrogation rights
  • Banker’s subrogation rights

All the various types of subrogation are conceptually the same, but they each have subtle distinctions in relation to the application of the law of subrogation.

What if the accident was your fault?

If the accident was your fault, you are responsible for the damages caused. If the accident was only partly your fault, you may be only responsible for a portion of the damages. The other driver’s insurance company will likely subrogate against you or your insurance company to pay for the damage to their insured’s car and/or their medical bills. Keep in mind that often you can negotiate the amount of damages that is being claimed and pay out the amount over time. If you don’t have insurance and a claim is being subrogated against you, it is a good idea to contact a car accident lawyer to make sure you are not getting taken.

 

If you were involved in an accident in Texas, we’ll be happy to mail it to you (together with a host of other free stuff.) You can either email us, call us at (512) 343-2572, or fill in the form to the right.

Car Accident Information


Last Updated on July 31st, 2017

Motor Vehicle Accidents – An Overview

If you are involved in a Texas car accident, and you feel that it was caused by the negligence of the other driver, then you may have cause for a lawsuit.

Negligence in Texas is determined to be a factor based on “proper lookout”.  This means that every driver on the road must observe all circumstances of driving in order to prevent an automobile accident.  The failure of a driver to pay attention to the road and other drivers can result in a car accident because of negligence. Generally, people who operate automobiles must exercise “reasonable care under the circumstances.” A failure to use reasonable care is considered negligence. A person who negligently operates a vehicle may be required to pay for harm to a person or property, caused by his or her negligence. The injured party, known as the plaintiff, is required to prove that the defendant was negligent, that the negligence caused the accident, and that the accident caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

You may need the help of a lawyer in order to prove that the other driver was negligent if you were involved in an automobile accident in Texas. This can be a complex issue, especially if the accident resulted in serious injury to you or a passenger in your vehicle. You also have to prove that you suffered bodily injury in the accident and if you choose to deal with the insurance company on your own, you may have difficulty receiving the compensation which you deserve.  Lawyers are more skilled at and are better equipped to sue for compensation in a car accident.

The damages that you can sue for in a Texas car accident case include:

  1. Loss of income because you are unable to work, permanently or for a period of time
  2. Medical expenses
  3. Funeral expenses
  4. Non-economic compensation, such as for pain and suffering.

The court may reduce the amount of your claim if the other driver claims that you are also responsible for the car accident, which is why you need the services of an experienced auto accident lawyer.

Cases arising out of automobile accidents are by far the most common type of personal injury case in our court system today. This is not surprising, given that every 10 seconds, someone in the United States is involved in a car accident, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, do not hesitate to seek legal counsel from a personal injury attorney experienced in automobile accident cases in order to best protect your interests.

If you were involved in an accident in Texas, we’ll be happy to mail it to you (together with a host of other free stuff.) You can either email us, call us at (512) 343-2572, or request one of our free consumer guides.

Local Heroes Douse Truck Fire and Save Driver


Last Updated on July 31st, 2017

Richard Slack, a 47-year-old former volunteer firefighter in New York, was working at a Lube Pit Stop at about 4:45 p.m.  in Southwest Austin on February 12th when he heard a boom.  There was no screeching tires before he heard the crash, which are common along the stretch of U.S. 290 just east of William Cannon Driver where the shop is located.

Hearing that the truck was on fire, Slack immediately ran to the scene where he saw a Ford Ranger pickup and a Subaru Outback had collided head-on.  Both drivers were pinned in their vehicles and the Ranger was on fire.

Along with several other bystanders and passers-by, Slack helped put out the flames before emergency crews arrived, saving the life of the pickup driver, said Harry Evans, a battalion chief with the Austin Fire Department.  Slack used a fire extinguisher from a school bus driver to put out the flames.

Both accident victims were taken by STAR flight to University Medical Center at Brackenridge.

“Only involve yourself when you can add value,” said Evans.  “Accident scenes are difficult, and we don’t want people becoming more victims.”

New Software Helps Reduce Car Crashes


Last Updated on July 31st, 2017

Several states, including California and New York, have introduced laws against talking on a cell phone while driving, but they still allow the use of hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth headsets.  However, studies have shown that hands-free devices may not help.  It appears that it is the distraction of dialing or talking that is dangerous, rather thean the act of taking a hand off the wheel.

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2006 found that dialing or talking on the phone was the cause in 7 percent of crashes and near-crashes.  For the study, drivers had onboard “black boxes” that recorded their actions.

Last year, 41,059 people died in traffic accidents.

Aegis Mobility, a Canadian software company, announced this month that it has developed software called DriveAssist that will detect whether a cell phone is moving at car speeds.  When that happens, the software will alert the cellular network, telling it to hold calls and text messages until he drive is over.

The software doesn’t completely block incoming calls.  Callers will hear a message saying the person they’re calling appears to be driving.  They can hit a button to leave an emergency voice mail, which is put through immediately.

Aegis’ software will work on phones with Windows Mobile software or Symbian software (used in phones from Nokia and Ericsson).  It uses the phone’s global positioning system chip to detect motion, aided by the cell-tower signal.  To work, the software has to be supported by the cellular carrier and can be managed remotely through a web site.

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. said it plans to offer a discount of up to 3 to 10 percent on family policies for people who use DriveAssist.