The first few minutes just after a car crash are critical, and it can be difficult to remember what to do in the heat of the moment. You could be dazed by the impact, in shock that it happened at all, or even injured without realizing it. Then, before you know it, you could be struggling to get compensated for your injuries, car repairs, and other issues because of something you didn’t remember to do.
That’s why it’s important to understand exactly what key steps need to happen after you’re involved in a wreck well before you’re ever in one — and why Tijerina Legal Group is working to educate Rio Grande Valley drivers on those essential steps to take. “It all depends on how serious it is and how injured you are,” attorney Humberto Tijerina said. “Assuming that you’re injured but don’t have anything broken and you can actually get out of your car and do things, I’d like to see for somebody first to check to see how the other person’s doing. That’s what a human being would do, right? Make sure everybody’s OK.”
Once you determine how you and the other driver — and any passengers — are doing, it’s time to get your phone out.
If there are injuries, get medical help right away.
“9-1-1 should take care of most immediate concerns,” Tijerina said. “It’s the police, it’s the emergency system responders — everyone is taken care of by calling that number.”
EMS will treat injuries at the scene, or, if necessary, transport people to the hospital. Once those needs are addressed, it’s time to make some other calls.
“Ideally, you would call a lawyer right away, also,” Tijerina said. “Say, ‘hey, I just crashed. I need some help. This is where I’m at.’ Police number one, call your lawyer, number two.”
Attorneys like the team at Tijerina Legal Group know exactly what needs to happen after a car crash, and can help right at the scene of the wreck. This includes talking to the police, dealing with the insurance, and documenting everything.
If you’re unable to call a lawyer right away, don’t forget to take some photos of the crash with your smartphone.
“Sometimes after a crash things are happening very fast, and evidence is critical,” Tijerina said. “What does that mean? People should take pictures of their own car from different angles, take pictures of the scene, if possible.”
It’s also crucial to document damage done to the other vehicle. If you’re able to get a photo of the other driver’s license plate, it helps accelerate the process.
“We love it when clients take a picture of the insurance policy of the person that crashed into them,” Tijerina said. “That’s very helpful, because instead of waiting for the police to get us their report in five to seven days, we can open up the claim right away.”
GET WITNESS STATEMENTS
It’s also important to get contact information from any witnesses to the crash — people other than your passengers or the passengers of the other vehicle involved in the wreck.
“Get their phone number, get their name, and just have it ready, because sometimes — it’s unfortunate — but people will lie about the facts,” Tijerina said. “‘I’ve seen some people try to turn things around on our clients. So if you can and you have a witness available, find them and get their information.”
A lawyer will help handle all the details after a wreck, including looking at insurance policies to inform the client about what can happen next.
And if the driver at fault didn’t have the proper insurance coverages to cover your medical expenses?
“That’s when those three coverages from our own policy come into play to protect you and why they’re so important,” Tijerina said — uninsured motorists (UM), underinsured motorists (UIM), and personal injury protection (PIP).
Learn more about the services Tijerina Legal Group provides by visiting tlegalgroup.com or by liking or following Humberto Tijerina on Facebook, @TijerinaLegalGroupPC and Instagram, @TijerinaLegalGroup.
In the next issue of RGVision, Humberto Tijerina will cover how to recognize scams that could occur after a wreck.