Most people who regularly drive a vehicle have been involved in a car accident at some point. With any luck, it was a minor accident. Whether it’s a minor or significant accident, you have specific responsibilities you must comply with after a car accident.
Here are some of the most common questions we get at Tellez Law about car collisions:
DO I ALWAYS HAVE TO FILE AN ACCIDENT REPORT?
Accident reports are sometimes required, but not always. Here’s how to know if you must file an accident report yourself.
- If the police arrive at the accident scene and an officer writes a police report, you don’t need to file an accident report.
- If no police report exists, there are still situations where you are not required to file an accident report with Texas DOT. According to Texas Department of Transportation you do not need to file an accident report if:
- No one was hurt in the collision.
- No one died as a result of the collision.
- Damage for each individual involved in the accident is under $1,000.
Pursuant to Texas Transportation Code § 601.004, failure to report the accident may result in a fine of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment. Suppose the police do not investigate the collision scene. In that case, you are required to file this report with the Texas DOT within ten days unless you are physically incapable of doing so.
IS IT NECESSARY FOR ME TO CALL THE POLICE AFTER A CAR COLLISION?
The best thing to do is always to call the police regardless of the accident’s severity. If anyone has been injured, or if the other party has fled the accident scene, you should contact the police. I understand that we often worry if you call the police, you may be making a deal about a minor car accident. This idea is wrong. We don’t want to use police resources needlessly. Remember that having an officer examine the crash site and file a report can help your lawyer fight your claim.
DO YOU NEED TO SHARE INFORMATION WITH THE OTHER DRIVER IF A POLICE REPORT HAS BEEN WRITTEN?
After a car accident, you should always exchange contact information with the other party. The accident report can provide additional contact information if necessary. Nevertheless, exchanging information at the scene of an accident is required.
SHOULD I AGREE TO ACCEPT MONEY IF THE DRIVER THAT HIT MY CAR OFFERS TO PAY ME DIRECTLY INSTEAD OF GOING THROUGH THE INSURANCE COMPANY OR CALLING THE POLICE?
Sometimes drivers will offer an immediate settlement to avoid making an insurance claim and involving law enforcement. This may sound like a good deal if the minimal damage and you believe you are not injured. Do not accept this offer because the extent of the damage done to your vehicle is not always known until a professional examines it. Furthermore, soft-tissue injuries, concussions, and internal bleeding often aren’t felt until s few days after an accident. Then, suppose you try to make a report days after the collision rather than at the scene. In that case, it looks suspicious, making it harder to prove that the other driver’s negligence caused your pain. Having a police report done at the scene by a police officer helps you prevent the other party from making false allegations about the car accident later.
IS INFORMING YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY THE SAME AS FILING AN ACCIDENT REPORT?
Filing an accident report is NOT the same as filing an insurance claim. They are two different things, and you must complete both steps.
WHY ARE ACCIDENT REPORTS NECESSARY?
Lawyers and insurance companies use accident reports to determine the money owed to drivers in an accident. Accident reports can be used to determine who’s at fault.
CAN YOU RECEIVE A COPY OF THE ACCIDENT REPORT?
You can purchase a copy of the accident report from the Texas Department of Transportation. It is essential to get the accident report because your lawyer will use it to negotiate a better settlement with the insurance company or file a lawsuit.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF THE OTHER DRIVER ASKS ME NOT TO FILE AN ACCIDENT REPORT?
Suppose the other driver asks you not to file an accident report. In that case, it is probably because they are the at-fault party in the collision and want to avoid any consequences from the accident. This request is a red flag, and you should call the police to file an accident report immediately.