KPRC 2 Investigates: Car crash confusion and what all drivers should know

6 steps to take after getting into a car wreck

HOUSTON – Houston roadways are busy and dangerous even on a good day. If you get in a car accident, staying calm and knowing what to and what *not* to do can save you a lot of heartache and money. KPRC 2 Investigates helped one woman who got in the middle of big mess after an accident. We also have helpful advice for you to remember if you ever get into an accident.

Chaotic scene after accident on busy I-10

Your physical safety is priority number one, but once you are safe and out of harm’s way it’s your money that may be at risk. Heading down busy Interstate 10, Cindy Jones found herself and her 2015 Lexus sandwiched between a Ford F-150 and the barrier wall.

“Very scared and very just discombobulated completely,” said Cindy. “A wrecker driver from ExPro Auto showed up before Houston police. I had no idea the protocol or what to do.”

Cindy was shaken up after the crash and says she hasn’t been in an accident in so long she wasn’t sure about what to do. On the side of the road, she asked the tow truck driver for help. ExPro is one of several wrecker companies contracted with the Tow and Go Program, set up to keep roadways in Houston and Harris County clear.

“He just said your car will be here until Progressive takes it out of the lot,” said Cindy.

Cindy’s issues began when she says ExPro wouldn’t release her Lexus to her insurance company.

Call logs show Progressive representatives called ExPro 25 times in 9 days.

“He just was kind of going in circles with it,” said Cindy.

All the while Cindy was racking up storage fees also regulated in Houston $20.64 a day. We did reach out to ExPro Auto who blamed the delay in releasing Cindy’s car on the third-party company working for Progressive. For now, her car is finally with Progressive and is getting repair work done. Her confusing case is a reminder that if you haven’t been in a car accident you may not know what to do.

KPRC 2 investigates car crash confusion (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

What to do if you get into a car accident

1. Stay safe

If your vehicle can’t move after an accident and you’re in the main lane of a freeway, the shoulder, ramp, or an HOV lane, stay in your vehicle until the police arrive. Also, don’t assume someone else is calling the police. You may need to call.

2. Be aware of the towing process

Law enforcement will authorize that it be towed to the nearest storage lot or location of your choosing. The cost for the tow is regulated. In the city of Houston, it’s $174 for anywhere up to 20 miles away. In Harris County, the tow will cost you $145.50. Depending on the towing need, there is a no-cost drop option.

3. Gather information

Assuming you are out of your vehicles and in a safe spot, start getting all of the information from the other people involved in the accident. This will include name, contact information, insurance information, and the contact information for any witnesses. If the person does not have insurance, ask to get the VIN number of the car. You can also immediately call the person’s cell number to make sure it is the right number.

4. Take pictures

When taking photos of the accident scene and damage to the vehicle, don’t be afraid to ask to take a photo of the other driver’s ID card.

5. Deal with the insurance

Call your insurance company and let them know about the accident. You should also call the insurance company of the other people involved. The insurance company will investigate the accident. If the other driver is at fault and they did not have insurance, often your own insurance company will provide coverage, depending on the type of plan you have.

6. Know who to call if you need future help

What Cindy didn’t know is that you if have any problems with a wrecker driver or storage lot in Houston HPD Auto Dealers Detail can help. You can call them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The number is (832) 394-4869 (htow). Had Cindy known to call HPD Auto Dealers Detail they would have likely helped and gotten her car released sooner.

You can call Tow and Go and call 24/7 if you are unsure of what to do in an accident. The number for Tow and Go is 713-881-3333.

Should I get a police report for a fender bender?

Often people wonder if it is a minor accident, should they even bother to get the police involved. Depending on the situation, you may need a report to file with the insurance company. The Texas Department of Transportation says you should get a report done if there is more than $1,000 in damage done to the vehicle. If you are not sure, get a report.

How to get a police report for a car accident in Houston

You may need a copy of the police report for the accident you were involved in. It may take up to 10 business days for HPD to get the report in the system. In order to access the report online, you will need to know the date of the accident and the names of the people involved.

About the Authors:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.