When someone else causes a car crash, you already know your options. You have the potential to seek damages for lost wages, property damages, and relevant medical expenses. The insurance company of the at-fault driver typically covers these costs.
So, what happens when you cause an accident?
Whether you were a bit distracted, failed to yield, or started speeding, it’s easy for the guilt and stress to overwhelm you. Luckily, there are still options for you to recover damages.
In this article, we offer a detailed explanation of what to do next, your options for coverage, how fault works in Texas, and why to partner with a reliable car accident attorney.
Do I Really Need a Lawyer?
Oftentimes, people believe that auto accident attorneys only help innocent victims after accidents. However, there are many ways for an attorney to assist someone after a car accident. This is true even when people believe they caused the collision.
After an accident, it’s always worth your time to contact a personal injury firm for a free consultation. If you do, look for a firm that regularly handles an array of traffic accident cases.
At Nguyen & Chen, our personal injury attorneys offer assistance for a wide variety of cases. No matter your situation, we can help you explore your option.
What to Do When You Are At-Fault for a Car Accident
When you believe (or know for sure) that you caused a collision, it’s important to remain calm. There are crucial steps to take after an accident regardless of fault. Stay focused and be sure to do and avoid the right actions.
First, never leave the scene of the collision unless an ambulance takes you away. Every state has different laws around stopping after a crash and staying at the scene. When a driver knows they broke the law or might be subject to criminal charges or citations, it can be tempting to bail.
However, the consequences only worsen when you leave the scene of an accident. You face arrest and severe criminal charges for fleeing the scene. No matter the situation, it’s best to stop in accordance with the law.
In certain states, it is also a requirement that you provide aid to anyone who needs it. Alternatively, you can call for help. At a minimum, you should exchange insurance and contact information with anyone else involved. Additionally, if there is a specific level of property damage or someone sustained injuries, you have to report it to law enforcement.
For instance, Texas law requires that you report any accident that involves property damage over $1,000 or that totals another vehicle, injury, or death.
What to Do After an Accident (And What to Avoid)
Whether you are at fault for a car accident or not, it’s a good idea to call the police or 911. This way someone responds to the scene. As you wait, keep to yourself unless someone visibly needs help.
Oftentimes, people try to confront another driver or become angry over the accident. Try to stay calm and avoid admitting fault or apologizing. Too often, it’s far too easy to let something slip about not seeing the other car or being distracted.
That is a mistake that can ruin your claim. Never admit fault or any level of negligence to other drivers. When you feel nervous, avoid the following.
- Discussing who you think is at fault
- Talking about what you were doing before the collision
- Asking other drivers questions to determine whether they did something negligent
- Apologizing for saying anything that indicates fault
Be polite to others at the scene, but try to keep any discussion of the crash to a minimum. Simply determine whether anyone is injured and provide the basic information. Then, calmly wait for the police and medical services to arrive.
If the other driver acts aggressively towards you, keep your cool and avoid being aggressive or defensive.
When the authorities arrive, be courteous and provide a basic statement about what happened. After an accident, police put together a report. To do so, they ask all drivers and witnesses questions and examine the vehicles.
While it’s okay to say that your car collided with the other, avoid adding details. For example, don’t say “I was distracted and ran into their car.” Moreover, avoid admitting you think you were at fault.
Anything you say now to the police or later to insurance companies can be used against you.
Additionally, it’s essential to gather evidence at the scene. Even when you are at fault for a car accident, evidence may point to shared liability or a deeper cause. This can be quite valuable to your claim.
- Gather names and contact information from other drivers.
- Collect information from witnesses and see whether anyone has evidence of the collision.
- Look for cameras in the area, such as traffic cameras, surveillance cameras, doorbell cameras, etc.
- Use your phone to take videos and photos of the scene: damage to the vehicles, debris, conditions of the road, and any environmental factors.
Medical Attention & Legal Counsel
If you sustained an injury in the accident, seek medical attention as soon as possible. In order to minimize complications, it’s crucial to start your treatment soon. Moreover, medical records serve as evidence in your claim, helping you recover relevant expenses.
When you are stable, notify your insurance provider about the accident. No one wants to make this call, but it is important and necessary. This is true regardless of whether you were at fault for a car accident.
Avoid official statements about what happened. Simply let them know that there was an accident.
Then, schedule a free consultation with a car accident attorney. When you are at fault for a car accident, you might not think this is important. However, there are still benefits to having an advocate on your side.
Your attorney helps you evaluate the situation and understand your options.
Partial Fault for a Car Accident
While you might be at fault for a car accident, it’s possible to share fault with other drivers. This is one of the main reasons to work with a car accident lawyer. When you have representation, they can gauge your potential for financial recovery.
Moreover, a law firm can conduct its own investigation to review relevant evidence and determine liability.
Modified Comparative Fault
Modified comparative fault is a common rule, but not every state uses it. In Texas, drivers at fault for a car accident have the potential to seek some compensation for their losses. However, this requires that they are at less fault than the other driver.
In some states, they prohibit recovery when someone is 50% or 51% liable. In Texas, the limit is 51%.
Because Texas follows this rule, it’s possible for you to take legal action after a collision. However, it’s important that you understand this.
The more you contribute to the accident, the lower your recovery. This is because the amount reduces according to your percentage of fault.
For example, let’s say you are 40% at fault for a car accident. You incur $10,000 in losses but only have the option to recover $6,000. Who determines this depends on your case.
In negotiations with an insurance company, the level of fault comes into play. If your case goes to trial, the jury decides.
The proportionate liability laws are crucial because they help drivers who acted in negligence but still deserve some compensation. When you meet with a personal injury attorney, they can explain whether this applies to you.
From there, they can help you on the road to recovery.
At Fault for a Car Accident? Learn More About Your Options
Any vehicle collision is cause for stress. Often, they leave people shaken up. When you believe you are at fault for a car accident, it only amplifies the worry and stress. Still, it is crucial to seek out legal support to ensure you understand your rights.
Moreover, your legal counsel can explain your options for financial recovery. For a free consultation on your case, call the experienced car accident lawyers at Nguyen & Chen. Our team is always ready to advocate for you.