Steps You Should Take Following an At-Fault Car Accident in Austin
When you have been involved in a car accident for which someone else is responsible, you have the legal right to seek financial recovery. In these cases, you can claim compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, vehicular property damages, pain and suffering, and other related costs. But what happens when you are responsible for a crash?
Maybe you were distracted by your phone, driving over the speed limit, or simply failed to check your surroundings sufficiently. No matter how the accident happened, you still have legal rights. A skilled car accident attorney can help you explore all of your options.
Most people believe that accident lawyers only represent those who are the victims of crashes. However, there are many ways an experienced attorney can assist you in exploring your legal options. Even if you bear some of the responsibility, you may be able to seek financial compensation.
Actions to Take if You Are Responsible for an Accident
If you suspect that you caused a crash, be sure to follow these steps.
If you believe that you are responsible for a car crash, your first priority should be to remain calm. While a collision is very stressful for everyone involved, staying composed will help you take the right steps. There are several actions you should take immediately following the crash.
Remain at the Scene
First, remain at the scene of the accident until the police and any necessary medical professionals arrive. Leaving the scene of a crash that you are responsible for is a very serious offense. A hit and run can lead to criminal charges, arrest, or further fines and citations. While it can be tempting to avoid the consequences of a crash, it is never a good idea to flee the scene.
Call For Medical Assistance
It is also crucial to contact medical care professionals if anyone is injured. Calling 911 or the local police is usually the best course of action. The health and safety of everyone involved is the most pressing concern.
Document the Scene & Call Your Insurance Company
You should also document evidence at the scene of the crime unless you are too injured to do so. The following documentation will be helpful when you speak to a car accident lawyer:
- The names and contact information of all the drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians involved in the accident
- The names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident or happened to capture it with their phone
- The locations of any security or street cameras that may have captured footage of the collision
- Photos that you collect of the scene of the crash–this includes pictures of the damage and positions of all vehicles, roadway conditions and obstacles, and any other relevant features of the scene
Once you have done all this, contact your insurance provider to report the crash. When you report the crash, it is important to remember that the insurance company is not operating with your best interests in mind. Never lie about the crash, but do not say anything to your provider to suggest you are responsible.
You should contact a skilled attorney to represent your interests after you have taken these initial steps.
What Not to Do After a Crash If You Share Blame
There are also some things you shouldn’t do if you are responsible for causing a car accident.
Don’t Admit Fault or Apologize
While you are waiting for the police at the scene of the crash, speak to the other involved parties as little as possible. You may be feeling nervous or guilty, especially if you believe you caused the collision. It is important that you never admit fault or apologize to the other drivers who are involved.
It is easy to feel the social pressure to apologize or try to explain why the accident happened. Do not make this mistake.
Don’t Speculate or Escalate Tensions
Following a crash, never:
- Talk with other drivers about your actions leading up to the accident
- Speculate about who might be responsible
- Offer an apology or say anything that could imply that you are at fault
- Ask questions to the other parties to discover if they made driving mistakes leading up to the crash
Do not escalate any tension with other drivers following the collision. It is normal for everyone involved to experience heightened emotions, including anger. If the other driver is acting angry or threatening, do your best to stay calm.
Do not act defensive or respond to their aggression. Remain polite and keep conversations to a minimum until the police arrive.
Don’t Tell the Police You Were Responsible
Additionally, do not say anything to law enforcement that may suggest you are responsible for the accident. Give a basic statement detailing the crash and provide any personal information that they require.
Why Determinations of Fault Are Important After a Car Accident
One of the most important ways an experienced lawyer can help you is by determining fault in the collision. After reviewing your case, an attorney can help you establish whether another party was at least partially responsible for your accident.
Texas operates on a rule known as “modified comparative fault.” This allows parties who are partially responsible for an accident – but not mostly responsible – to seek financial recovery for damages. In the case that you are less than 51% at fault for the accident, you may still be able to seek compensation legally.
Your financial recovery will be reduced by the percentage of fault that you bear for the accident. For instance, if you bear 30% of the responsibility for the collision and your losses totaled $10,000, then you can only recover $7,000.
If your proportionate responsibility is 51% or higher, you’ll be barred from seeking compensation for your injuries.
Keep in mind that comparative fault works both ways. If you’re allocated some of the blame, that’s the degree to which you’ll be financially responsible for other victims’ injuries. So, if your proportionate responsibility is 30 percent, you’ll be on the hook for 30% of other victims’ damages.
A car accident attorney can help you determine all of your options for securing a full financial recovery. Even if it is determined that you are entirely at fault for the accident, you still have options. It is possible that other drivers share the responsibility for the collision.
In these cases, you may be able to claim a reduced amount of compensation. Regardless of who bears the blame for the collision, it is important to speak with a qualified car accident lawyer who can fight for you.