Auto accidents are extremely common. There are approximately 4 million automobile-related injuries annually. Even the best of drivers can find themselves in an auto accident, and severe injury may be possible. For example, injuries may occur to the head, brain, neck, or spinal cord, and may result in whiplash or death.
If you get in an accident it is important to not leave the scene. To leave the scene of an accident without stopping may subject you to a criminal prosecution. Seek medical help for any injured people. Do not attempt to render first aid if not an expert, as there may be liability on your part if you made a condition worse. Call the police so they can file a report. It is also necessary to provide your name, address and the license number of the vehicle you are driving to the other party. Upon request, the drivers must exhibit their driver’s licenses. Do not make any statements to the other drivers or police regarding whose fault you believe the accident to be, even if you are sure it was your fault. In addition to gathering information on the parties involved in the accident, it is a good idea to gather any information (including contact information) from witnesses who saw the accident. Be sure to see a doctor following the accident to be evaluated and treated.
Law requires filing an accident report within ten days of the accident. You must report the accident to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles if there was damage in excess of $1000.00 and/or someone was injured or killed. Failure to submit the report will result in a suspension of your driving license. State law also requires that all vehicles have liability insurance. Be sure to notify your insurance company about the accident and follow their directions. Bear in mind that the interests of the other party will be represented by their insurance company and/or lawyers and you should retain your own counsel. If you were in an accident and did not have insurance you license will be suspended for one year.
While law requires all motorists to have insurance, it is estimated that as many as 25% do not. Thus, it is a wise precaution to get uninsured motorist coverage on your own insurance plan in case you are involved in an accident with someone who is liable, but insolvent, and uninsured.
In addition to a negligence claim based upon a severe injury, car accidents may also involve wrongful death actions. They can also raise issues of defective products if there was a failure with a seatbelt, airbag, or tire, for instance. The government may also be liable if there was a poorly maintained roadway, a badly designed intersection, or a malfunctioning traffic signal system, for instance.
As for damages, if you are unable to work or sustain injuries you may be able to recover from your own insurance policy, or you may be able to obtain damages from the other party if they are liable. The idea of damages is to put you in the situation you would have been if there was no injury. The amount of money will depend on factors such as the extent and duration of injuries, pain and suffering, disability caused, and damage to property. While damage awards vary, one local woman received $150 million when her vehicle rolled over due to a design defect.