After any serious car crash in Texas, you have certain responsibilities required by law. You should check whether anyone is injured and needs aid and call the local police or sheriff’s department to report the accident. The emergency dispatcher will ask whether there are injuries and, if so, how many people are injured. You should remain at the scene and wait for law enforcement to arrive.
What Does the Texas Law Say About Car Crash Reporting?
It is important to know when Texas law obligates you to report a car accident. According to Texas Transportation Code Title 7: Vehicles and Traffic, Subchapter B: Duties Following an Accident, an individual is required to report a crash any time that a crash results in injury, death, or property damage of $1,000 or more. If a person fails to report a crash to the proper authorities as required by law, the person may face penalties, including a fine up to $5,000 or/and imprisonment. If you are unsure whether the damage to the vehicles totals $1,000 or more, you should report the crash. When in doubt, report the accident so there will be an official record of it.
How Can Filing an Accident Report Help Me?
It is not uncommon for those who are involved in an accident to be in shock initially. When the drivers get out of their vehicles, the at-fault driver may offer to pay out of pocket for the damages rather than reporting the accident to the police or to the insurance company.
You may be tempted to accept the other driver’s offer if the vehicle damage is minimal and there are no visible injuries. But that would be a mistake. You should always report a crash, even if you do not have any obvious injuries. You may have injuries that are masked by the rush of adrenaline after an accident. If you let the at-fault driver leave after a crash without reporting the accident to police, you will have more difficulty obtaining compensation or proving the other driver was at fault.
Some injuries, such as a concussion, soft tissue injury, or internal injury may not be apparent at the time that the accident occurs. These injuries can take days to fully show themselves. If you wait several days to file an accident report until after your injuries appear, it may raise questions about why you did not report the incident initially. It also may make it more difficult to show that the accident caused the injuries.
You should get the name of the other driver involved in the accident, the driver’s insurance information, the vehicle description and license plate number, and the driver’s license number. If the driver refuses to share that information, wait for the law officer to arrive and obtain the information. The law officer will share the information with you.
If you report the accident to police, the police report can be used at a later date as evidence in your claim, helping you to recover the damages you deserve. Insurance companies put a lot of weight in the conclusions that the police reach as to fault in an accident when considering claims. Having an accident report will help you pursue a claim.
How to Report a Car Accident to the Police in Dallas or Fort Worth
The best way to report a car accident to the police in Dallas or elsewhere in Texas is to call 9-1-1 at the time that the accident occurs. Make sure to check whether anyone is injured first. When you speak to the emergency dispatcher, provide details about your location. Ask the officer who responds to the accident when the accident report will be available and how you can obtain a copy of it.
—You can get a copy of an accident report in person or by mail from the Dallas Police Department Records Section.
If you request a report by mail, you should include the report number if you have it, the name of one of the individuals involved in the accident, the exact location of the accident and the date and time of the accident. You should include a check for $6 for the report.
The address is:
Dallas Police Records Section
1400 S. Lamar Street
Dallas, Texas 7512
If you are going in person to get the report, you should call ahead to be sure the report is available for release. The number to call is 214-671-3345
—You can purchase a copy of your accident report from the Fort Worth police department records section at the Fort Worth Police Administration Building records section. The records section is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 7 a.m. to noon on Tuesday and Thursday. The number to call to make sure the report is available is 817-392-4160.
The address is:
Fort Worth Police Records Section
Police Administration Building
350 W. Belknap Street
Fort Worth, Texas
Tips for Car Accident Reporting
It is important that you report your car accident to the proper authorities in a timely manner, and preferably at the scene of the accident. It is also important that you know what to say when reporting the accident. You are obligated to tell the truth when filing an accident report. However, you should not assign blame, nor admit fault yourself. You should not answer questions if you do not know the answer. For example, if the officer asks if you were traveling the speed limit, and you truthfully do not know the answer, just say that you do not know.
Information that you should include in your police report includes:
- An accurate and thorough description of what happened;
- How many people were traveling in your car and in the car of the other driver at the time of crash;
- Your name, insurance information, and vehicle information;
- The names of any witnesses – if there are witnesses to the accident, ask them to stay on the scene until officers arrive;
- Any injuries that you are experiencing; and
- Any signs of property damage to your vehicle.
Remember that you also need to report the accident to your car insurance company. Check your policy to learn specific requirements for accident report. In some cases, an insurance company may deny a claim if the accident is not reported within a certain period of time.
What Happens If I Do Not File A Car Accident Police Report?
While you should always report an accident to the police, sometimes it happens that you do not make a report, for whatever reason. In the event that you file a claim with your insurance company or want to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, the fact that you did not file an accident report with the police can be problematic. The insurance company may question whether the accident occurred and, if so, whether your injuries and property damage are a result of the accident or an incident that happened later.
Work with an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
The best thing that you can do after an accident is to report it to the police and to your insurance company. You should contact an experienced Texas car accident lawyer who has experience handling the claims process and can represent and advise you when dealing with the insurance company.
At Tate Law Offices PC, we have the results to prove our experience and skillset when handling injury cases. Call us today for a free case consultation or contact us using our online form.