Should I Call 911 After a Car Accident in Texas?

Should I Call 911 After a Car Accident in Texas?

In Texas, the law requires that one report an accident to the police in two situations:

  1. If the accident resulted in serious injuries or death, or
  2. If the accident caused property damage that means the vehicle cannot be “normally and safely driven.”

In very minor car accidents, one need not call the police. However, if any injury or property damage occurs at all, it may help to report the accident to the police anyway – one may not know the seriousness of the injury or the value of the property damage until later. 

Furthermore, there are penalties for failing to report in the two situations described above. Failure to report an accident in these situations can result in a fine of up to $5,000 or even incarceration.

Required Protocol After a Car Accident

Texas law provides a set of steps that drivers involved in an accident “likely to result in injury” are required to take the following steps immediately. These are:

  1. Immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the collision — or as close to the scene as possible.
  2. Immediately return to the scene of the collision if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the collision. Drivers are required to stop the vehicle without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
  3. Immediately determine whether a person is involved in the collision, and if a person is involved in the collision, whether that person requires aid; and
  4. Remain at the scene of the collision until the drivers exchange their names and addresses, the cars’ registration numbers, the names of drivers’ insurance providers, and, if requested and available, their driver’s licenses.
  5. If necessary, the driver who caused the injuries must provide “reasonable assistance” to any person injured in the collision. This includes transporting, or making arrangements for transporting, the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment. This is required if the injuries are visible to the driver or if the injured persons request assistance.

Failure to stop or follow any aspect of this protocol carries penalties. If the car accident resulted in the death of the other party, then failure to follow this protocol is a felony of the second degree. If the car accident resulted in serious bodily injury, failure to follow this protocol is a felony of the third degree. 

If the car accident resulted in a less severe injury, then failure to follow any aspect of this protocol might result in: 

  • A fine of up to $5,000, 
  • A prison sentence of up to 5 years,
  • A jail sentence of up to a year in county jail, or
  • Both a fine and a prison or jail sentence.

If a car accident resulted in property damage, and someone fails to stop or follow the required protocol, then she might be charged with:

  • a Class C misdemeanor, if the damage to all vehicles is less than $200; or
  • a Class B misdemeanor, if the damage to all vehicles is $200 or more.

It is difficult to know in the moments immediately after a car accident whether someone has experienced severe property damage, bodily injury, or death, so it is best to follow this protocol after any car accident.  

Can You Drive Away After a Car Accident?

Under Texas law, a vehicle can be normally and safely driven after an accident if:

  1. The vehicle does not require towing;  and
  2. The vehicle can be operated normally without additional damage to the vehicle, other cars, or the road.

If your car does not fall under one of the previous two categories, it may be best to call for a tow truck.

After a car accident, a lawyer can help you navigate any legal issues related to penalties, damage, or injuries you or the other party incurred. 

Many people are not aware of the protocol required after a car accident, so a lawyer can help you navigate any charges related to a failure to comply with any aspect of the protocol. They can also help you file a legal claim based on the other driver’s negligence or wrongdoing to recover compensation for both your economic and non-economic damages.

Contact the Texas Car Accident Lawyers of The Law Firm of Alton C. Todd Personal Injury Lawyers for Help Today

Please contact an experienced car accident lawyer at The Law Firm of Alton C. Todd Personal Injury Lawyers to get a free initial consultation today. We have offices in Friendswood and Galveston, Texas. Call us at (281) 809-6471.

The Law Firm of Alton C. Todd Personal Injury Lawyers – Galveston
2101 Mechanic St. Suite 253
Galveston, TX 77550

The Law Firm of Alton C. Todd Personal Injury Lawyers
312 S. Friendswood Dr.
Friendswood, TX 77546