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Legal Blog

How Long After a Car Accident Do You Have to File a Police Report in Houston Texas?

Responsible drivers do their best to avoid car accidents. However, when accidents happen, many people wonder How Long After a Car Accident Do You Have to File a Police Report? Under the Texas Transportation Code, when a car accident involves:

  • Injuries or car accident fatalities
  • A drunk or impaired driver (or drivers)
  • A driver who leaves the scene – if the at-fault driver flees the scene, the victim must still remain until authorities arrive
  • A driver without insurance
  • A vehicle too damaged to be moved
  • A vehicle or property that sustains apparent damage of $1,000 (or more)

Drivers involved in motor vehicle crashes must stop their vehicles and report the accident to the police. The Texas Transportation Code requires the police officers who arrive on the scene to fill out a crash report.

The written report must be submitted to TxDOT no later than the tenth day following the accident.

Failure to stop and comply with Texas law for car accidents involving serious injuries or fatalities can lead to felony charges and penalties, including steep fines and imprisonment. Lack of compliance for car accidents resulting in vehicle damage can lead to misdemeanor charges and penalties.

Situations When Drivers Do Not Need to File a Report with the Police

There are situations when drivers do not call the police to the scene. For example, you may have been involved in what you and the other driver thought was only a minor fender-bender. Later, you experience symptoms of injuries that took a few hours or a day to appear, or your mechanic tells you there is more damage to your car than you realized.

Since an officer did not create a report, you will need to file with one with TxDOT. You have until 10 days after the crash to submit the report.

Failure to submit the report within this timeframe could lead to a license suspension if the accident ultimately produced injuries, death, or property damage exceeding $1,000.

Information From the Texas Department of Transportation

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) provides Texas drivers with steps to take following a car accident. With safety the most important factor for all involved, the first step is to check for injuries and aid those injured. When injuries are severe, a call to 911 is typically the best way to help.

Next, drivers are instructed to move their cars from the path of traffic, if possible, or set up flares raising vehicle hoods if not. Then, drivers must exchange contact information, vehicle identification and license plate numbers, insurance, and driver’s license information.

Last, TxDOT tells drivers to note the location of the crash and record names, addresses, and contact information from witnesses, if available.

When to File a Crash Report with the Authorities

Just because you have ten days to file a crash report does not mean you should wait the full ten days, and The Krist Law Firm, P.C. can help you get the report in quickly. Fair or not, reports submitted promptly after an auto accident typically carry more credibility than those submitted at the last minute.

When submitted as soon as possible, the reports indicate a sense of urgency rather than an “I’ll try to get to it” attitude. A Texas car accident lawyer from our team understands the reasons for your potential delay–you may be overwhelmed in the aftermath of the accident and have many other responsibilities to contend with–and we are here to provide support and guide you through the process.

If a law enforcement officer was called to the accident scene and made a report, you want to be sure it gets to TxDOT on time, and a Texas car accident attorney from The Krist Law Firm P.C. can help in this situation as well. Once you partner with us, we will manage the aftermath of the wreck for you, advising you of your options and handling communication with the other parties involved and their representatives.

Why Filing Promptly is Important

Drivers or passengers who suffer damages in a car accident have the right to seek compensation for their losses. Texas follows a modified comparative fault system for car accident claims, which allows victims to hold the at-fault party accountable for paying damages if they (the victims) are less than 50% to blame for the accident. If they meet this threshold but still hold some fault, the compensation received is reduced according to the percentage of fault. For example, if a victim holds 10% of the blame, they can collect 90% (10% less) than the total calculated settlement amount.

Of course, no insurance company wants to make a payout, and the at-fault party’s representatives will work hard to inflate your level of blame as much as they can. If these representatives see you waited to file an accident report, they may use that delay against you, claiming any injuries or damage could not have been that bad if you waited to file. They may also argue you only decided to file a report after realizing you could “get money” by making a claim.

To put yourself in the best position to collect the compensation you may deserve, file a police report right away. If you are unsure of how to proceed or need questions answered, reach out to a car accident lawyer in Texas for help. If you have already filed your report and need to pursue compensation for your losses, The Krist Law Firm, P.C. is ready to partner with you and fight for a fair settlement or take your case to trial when needed.

Reporting Accidents with Unattended Vehicles

Texas has laws in place for those who hit unattended vehicles as well. The driver who hits the parked car must stop to find the vehicle owner and provide their contact information. If locating the driver is not possible, drivers must leave a written note in a “conspicuous place” or attach it securely and visibly, including their name, address, and the circumstances of the collision. In either scenario, if the car they are driving belongs to someone else, the operators must also provide the vehicle owner’s information.

According to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), your uninsured motorist coverage will not apply if you do not make a police report. Again, you have a 10-day reporting window.

Contact Krist Law Firm If You Have More Questions About How Long You Have to Report an Accident

Whether the damage you sustained from a car accident is moderate or severe, if someone else’s negligence caused the crash leading to that damage, you should not have to pay the financial consequences. Critical first steps in recovering your losses are ensuring your motor vehicle accident is properly reported to the authorities and partnering with a Texas car accident attorney from The Krist Law Firm, P.C. Call or send a message today to schedule a free consultation with our award-winning team.