What to do if you are involved in an accident, including car accidents and 18 wheeler accidents

Top 10 things to do if you are injured in an accident, including a car accident or 18 wheeler accident.

By Craig Zips, Member of Derryberry Zips Wade Lawhorn, PLLC

Accidents involving 18 wheelers can cause serious injuries because of the size and weight of the tractor and trailer.

  1. Immediately call the police or 911 to report the accident, do not leave the scene of the accident and attempt to ensure the other party also stays at the scene.
  2. Contact a lawyer immediately.   The insurance company for the at fault driver and your insurance company will act only to protect their respective financial interests.   The insurance companies only care about saving their money.  Do not sign any documents prior to consulting with an attorney.
  3. Attempt to identify any witnesses to the accident and write down their names, addresses and telephone numbers.  If possible, also write down their license plate numbers.
  4. Exchange the following information with the other driver; name, address and telephone number, make and model of the car or 18 wheeler, license plate number, the other driver’s employer, if applicable, if the driver does not own the car then obtain the name, address and telephone number of the owner of the car or 18 wheeler, obtain all insurance information, including the name of the insurance agent for the other driver.  Also, if the accident involves and 18 wheeler then write down the Unites States Department of Transportation (“US DOT”) number that is typically located somewhere on the tractor or trailer.
  5. Write down any statements that are made by the other driver that indicate the other driver is at fault.  These statements may be used against the other driver and/or their employer in settlement negotiations or   if a lawsuit is filed.  Conversely, do not make any statements to the other driver or witnesses in connection with the accident.  Please remember to make sure that any statements made to the police are truthful and accurate.  Do not guess or speculate about any answer to any question asked by the investigating officer.
  6. Take photographs of the property damage to your car and the other car(s) or 18 wheeler while you are at the scene of the accident.  Also take photos of the accident scene, including any visual obstructions, road signs, speed limits signs, and any skid marks made by any vehicle involved in the accident.
  7. Immediately seek medical treatment if you are even slightly injured.  Sometimes accident victims can sustain internal injuries without realizing he/she is injured.  Internal injuries can be fatal if not treated.    Do not be embarrassed to ask for an ambulance if you have been injured in any manner.  Please also make sure you attend all doctor and physical therapy appointments.  If you miss these appointments, then the insurance company will argue these missed appointments mean you are not really hurt.
  8. Do not give any written or recorded statements to any insurance company or insurance company representative without consulting with an attorney.
  9. Prepare a brief summary of the accident.   Our memories fade about the details of an accident as time passes.  These notes about the accident will be  helpful later in jogging your memory of the details of the accident.   Also, keep a daily diary of your medical visits, as well as a daily diary of the pain you are experiencing after the accident.
  10. Obtain a police report if one is available.

Craig Zips is one of the two founding members of the firm now known as Derryberry Zips Wade Lawhorn, PLLC. He is board certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and has been given the premier AV rating by Martindale Hubbell. Craig has represented numerous clients for over 15 years in a variety of litigation matters, from complex commercial matters, including business disputes and securities fraud, as well as the  representation of plaintiffs in serious injury cases.


Is My Old Criminal Case Going To Show Up In A Background Check?

Background Checks: Digging Up Your Past, Present, and Future.

By Tab Lawhorn, Member of Derryberry Zips Wade Lawhorn, PLLC

When I was a young aspiring lawyer, one of my first clients came into my tiny office and told me that she couldn’t get a college scholarship because she had an old criminal case on her record.  It took some time, but eventually, we were able to get her old conviction removed from her record.  She was granted the scholarship.  Now, she is a pediatrician in south Texas.  Since those humble beginnings, I expanded my office space, and also my abilities to match those of the public need.  Background checks can send chills up the spine of a potential employee, future graduate student, or even someone that simply wants to rent an apartment.

In today’s work place, some employees face constant anxiety over criminal background checks.

I have heard countless stories from friends and clients that all express a severe anxiety about what a criminal background check might reveal about them.  If you have a concern about your criminal past, you’re not alone.  Here is the basic information I have been handing those in need for years:

1.  The internet has changed the game for criminal background checks.

It is virtually impossible to completely remove an old arrest or conviction from your search results on the internet.  You can thank third party data collection companies for this.  However, with the right lawyer, you can make a difference in what information is provided on a Google search for you.  For instance, a lawyer can remove your old conviction or arrest from the local and state agencies that collect this data if you qualify.  However, if the Possum Trot Gazette wrote an article on your arrest that shows up in

Apartments, employers, and even college applications request information to perform a criminal background check. These background checks are often times linked to local and state date collection services.

their archived on-line data base, then that still might show up.  It’s a problem no doubt.  Our firm always makes an effort to send an order from the court to remove reference to your arrest or conviction to those agencies and sources that are reporting your untimely arrest or conviction.  So the question becomes:  If I can’t totally erase my criminal past from the internet, why bother hiring a lawyer to get it removed from my record?  The answer is simple:  Because employers, colleges, apartments, and other entities typically use a background check that is connected to data gathered from the local clerks office or the department of public safety.  Remove your criminal case from those databases, and you should be on your way to clean living, in an application sense.

2.  If you qualify, you can change your criminal history.

Qualification isn’t half the battle, it’s the whole enchilada.  The age, type, sentence, and other criminal cases you have can all effect whether or not you are qualified to have a lawyer remove something from your record.  If you call a qualified lawyer with the experience of drafting expungements or motions for non-disclosure, they will quickly be able to tell you if you meet the requirements under the statutes that govern your old case.  Sure it’s embarassing.  But the right attorney will put your mind at ease once you answer a few basic questions.  If you don’t feel comfortable talking with an attorney, then send the answers to the following questions to my form on my website here:

  • What was your arrest?
  • When were you arrested?
  • Did you get a conviction?
  • Did you plead guilty?
  • Did you receive probation?
  • Did you receive deferred adjudication?
  • Did you successfully complete your probation/deferred adudication?
  • When was the last day of your probation?
  • Have you had any criminal cases sense the last day of probation of the criminal case you desire to remove?

If you send me the answers to those questions, I will respond to you with a basic answer on whether you qualify, or not, to have your record clean of that criminal case.

3.  You need a qualified attorney to assist you in changing your criminal history.

Please don’t assume that because this article is simple, that there is a simple remedy to removing something from your criminal record.  If you have ever had to try to remove something from your credit report then you know that this is much more complex.  This is why you will need an experienced attorney to assist you with the process.  Furthermore, you will need the advise of a competent attorney in order to prepare the documents necessary to approach the court in seeing that you can get the relief you seek.  Don’t be discouraged.  Stay committed to keeping your record clean, and you will no longer feel any anxiety about a criminal background check.  You’re credit report might be a different story, but hey, that’s for another article altogether.

Tab Lawhorn is a criminal lawyer and partner at Derryberry Zips Wade Lawhorn, PLLC.  He lives in Tyler, Texas with his wife Zoe, his two loving dogs, Noodle and Fathead, and Mancat, his not-so-loving cat.  For a decade, he has fought for the rights of those individuals who have needed to clear up their past from criminal arrests and convictions.  He has carried his briefcase into courts from Los Angeles, California to Ben Wheeler, Texas (Population-400)–ensuring that people have clean records so they can live their lives accordingly.  He has founded YOURENOTGUILTY.COM and has been an active donor and community volunteer in East Texas ever since.