WHAT TO DO IF YOU'RE IN AN ACCIDENT

Remain Calm

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Driving in Houston can be maddening. The highways in the fourth-largest city in America often have different names depending on who you ask. Is it the South West Freeway, 59 South or 69 South?

As if the roads weren't confusing enough, figuring out what to do after an auto accident can be just as complicated. With millions of drivers zipping around our roadways, there are fairly decent odds you may end up in an accident at some point.

It can be hard to sort out what to do after a collision.

The following information may help.

Exchange Information

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The first thing to do after an auto accident is to stop the car. In Houston, just like the rest of Texas, you must immediately stop your vehicle at the scene of an accident with injuries or property damage.

If anyone needs medical treatment, the best course of action is to call 911 immediately. Drivers must remain at the scene (or as close as is safely possible) and stay there until you exchange information with the other driver and provide any injured person reasonable assistance.

Texas law requires both drivers to provide the following information to each other.

  • Name and address
  • The registration number of the car you were driving.
  • The name of your insurance company.
  • Your driver's license information.

You should call the police if

  • Anyone is injured.
  • You suspect a driver is intoxicated.
  • A driver doesn't have insurance.
  • A driver attempts to leave the scene.
  • Damage is anticipated to be $1000 or more (In 2013, the average auto liability claim for property damage was $3,231).

Keep Good Records

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Assuming there are no injuries, then the next issue is to assess the vehicles. Can they be safely moved? If so, move them out of the flow of traffic. If they can't be moved, the Texas Department of Transportation recommends that you protect the accident scene by raising your hood or setting up flares.

From the 1st second after the accident, keep good records." Use your Smartphone and record the time, date, plate number, make and model of their car, their registration information, license number, name, insurance company, and contact information.

If the police are on the scene, take their names and badge numbers. Get the names of any witnesses and note whether emergency medical personnel were called. Photos are helpful. Take pictures of the vehicles and the license plates.

If your claim is straightforward, you may not need any of it, but if a problem occurs, you may need all the information possible. Again, with the prevalence of smart phones these days, this is all quite easy to do.

What if the police were not called to the scene? If the accident results in injury, death or $1,000 or more of property damage, you must file an Accident Report (Form CR-2) known as a "Blue form with the Texas Department of Transportation within 10 days.