A road accident can be a traumatic and expensive incident in someone’s life. Not only can it have life-long impacts on your day-to-day life, but the financial and legal implications could have long-term effects on you. Whether it be a small bumper bashing or a serious collision that results in serious injuries or even the death of someone involved, accidents can have monumental impacts on your life.
Texas has some of the highest accident rates in the US. In fact, research shows that one person has died on Texas roads every single day for the last 19 years. Two of the biggest causes of accidents in Texas are down to driving while under the influence and speeding. Columbus, in particular, does not feature in the top cities for accident rates in Texas, however, it does see its fair share of road incidents.
So, what happens if you have been involved in an accident, especially in Columbus? What are the first actions you should take and how do you ensure the safety for you as well as the other parties involved in the incident? We created an easy step-by-step guideline for you to follow below.
Step One: Stop! Do Not Drive Off
This should go without saying, yet the number of hit and runs within the US is shockingly high. It is estimated that there is a hit and run every 43 seconds, with over 2000 fatalities being recorded annually. Texas, in particular, is listed as one of the top states for hit and runs, which is highly attributed to the high instances of drunk-driving.
If you are involved in an accident you have a legal obligation to stop, no matter how small the incident is. You can be fined and imprisoned should you drive off and flee from the scene of the accident.
Step Two: Secure the Scene
The next step is to survey the scene to ascertain the damage done, what injuries have been incurred, and whether anyone is in need of urgent medical help. If you can, try and pull your car out of the road. This will assist in preventing another accident, as unaware drivers might not see stationery vehicles until the last minute.
Check on other parties involved in the accident. How badly injured are they? It is always advisable not to move an injured person. If they are in danger though, you might have no other choice. They could be lying in the road at risk of being hit by passing cars, or in a burning car. Try and secure the injured as much as possible.
Step Three: Call the Authorities and Medical Services
If no one has already, it is imperative to call the authorities for any accident. If there is an injury or even loss of life, you will need to ensure that medical services get to the scene too. Remain as calm as you can on the phone and give them as many details as you can. You will need to provide:
- The nature of the incident;
- The extent of the accident: how many people involved, the extent of injuries and whether there is loss of life;
- The address or location of the accident;
- Your name and contact details for them to contact you should they need further directions.
Step Four: Document the Accident
This is a really important step for you to take. You never know who you have been involved in an accident with. Whether they are at fault, or whether you caused the accident, you need to collect evidence for your own records. The number of fraudulent cases when it comes to accidents in the US is substantially high, with a high number of responsible parties trying to pass the accident off as the other person’s fault.
It is vital for you to have evidence of the scene to be able to fight these kinds of cases. Therefore, collect the following information from the other parties involved:
- Full name and surname;
- Contact details;
- Insurance company information;
- Plate number;
- Type and color of the car.
Then document the scene on your mobile phone. Make sure you take pictures of:
- Damage to your car;
- Damage to the other car;
- Damage to any surrounding structures and property;
- Where the other car came from;
- Where the collision took place;
- Where the stop signs, traffic lights, and bends in the road are located;
- What the main cause of the accident was.
Remember, the more evidence you have, the better your case. You don’t want to be left responsible for costs that were not your fault due to poor documentation.
Step Five: Report the Accident
The next step is opening a case for the accident and providing the authorities with your statement. You will also need to contact your insurance company to report the accident, and they will be able to assist you with your next steps. In many cases, they will be able to send the right company to tow your car or provide you with the right autobody company to fix your car.
Laying a case and opening a report with the police department is a legal requirement on your behalf. The Texas Transportation Code Title 7: Vehicles and Traffic, Subchapter B: Duties Following an Accident states that you are required to report an accident where there is an injury, death, or property damage of $1,000 or more involved. You can use this report for your insurance claim. You can get your Columbus police accident report in person from the station, online, or have it sent to you electronically. This should help you get your claim paid out quickly and efficiently if it is a non-fraudulent claim.
Step Six: Watch Your Behaviour on the Scene
Lastly, be very aware of your language during your interactions on the scene. Do not admit to any responsibility and use any words like “I didn’t see it”. It could be held against you and you could be held responsible. Do not act out of anger either and threaten or become violent with the other party, this could land you in prison and with additional charges against you. Keep calm and deal with things meticulously.
In wrapping up, accidents are highly stressful and overwhelming incidents to go through. The heightened adrenaline and fear will make it difficult to think properly and make communication more difficult. You will need to take proactive steps in calming yourself throughout the whole scenario, especially if there are serious injuries or loss of life. Take deep breaths while contacting 911 and speak slowly and clearly. You will also have a surge of adrenaline running through you, so you might not feel like you have been injured. Make sure to check yourself properly, as you might not feel an injury in your state of shock, or you might have internal bleeding and feel fine. Get checked out!