14 Things You Need to Do After a Car Accident in Virginia
There are millions of car accidents in the United States each year. Many involve property damage only – the vehicles are damaged but the drivers and passengers suffer no injuries.
Unfortunately a significant percentage of auto accidents involve personal injury to the driver or passengers. Some even result in fatal injuries.
The minutes and hours following a car accident can be overwhelming and chaotic. Following the steps below can make handling your accident easier while protecting your legal rights.
Never leave the scene of an accident, even if the damage looks minor and you’re sure that no one was hurt. Stop your car and take the keys out of the ignition to check the accident scene and take pictures and video.
2. Breathe and Stay Calm
Being involved in a car wreck can be scary. But letting your emotions get the best of your can make a bad situation even worse.
Take a deep breath after the accident. Then check for injuries. Do the best you can to remain calm.
3. Watch What You Say to the Other Driver
You can, and should, talk to the other driver after an accident. Check on the other driver to see if they’re injured and ask for their information. But do not go beyond this. Never admit fault or even say that you are sorry since this may be used against you in court.
4. Isolate the Accident Scene or Move the Vehicles if the Accident is Minor
What you do before the accident can make things easier after the accident.
You want to prevent further auto accidents and injuries. Set up emergency flares, warning triangles, or cones if you have them and keep your car’s flashers on. This will alert other drivers to avoid the accident area.
If it is dark and your car’s lights are damaged, then set up a flashlight to alert other drivers while you wait in the car or on the side of the road.
If the accident is minor and you’re in harm’s way or are interfering with traffic, consider moving your vehicle to a safe area. If the accident is major do not move your vehicle.
5. Call the Police
Call the police and emergency responders, even if there are no major injuries. Reporting a car wreck and obtaining a copy of the police report goes a long way toward helping you negotiate an insurance settlement after your auto accident.
6. Exchange and Gather Information
Your insurance company needs information to investigate your claim. If you are in a crash get the following information from everyone involved:
- Telephone Number
- E-mail address
- Make, model, year, and color of the car
- License plate number
- Driver’s license state and number
- Insurance carrier
- Insurance policy number
- Damage to vehicle
- Contact information for passengers
You should also get the following:
- Name and contact information for any accident witnesses
- Accident location (city/county, road, street, nearby landmarks)
When the police arrive at the scene to investigate, get this information from the officer:
- Badge number
- Phone number
- E-mail address
- Police report number
Ask the police officer to provide you with a copy of the accident report. The police officer’s opinion on how the accident happened and who is at fault may be helpful. You may also want the police officer to testify at trial if your case does not settle.
7. Notify Your Insurance Agent or Insurance Company Right Away
The police may not arrive right away. Use this time to contact your insurance company and notify them of the accident.
Many insurance policies require you to report an accident immediately and to cooperate with their investigation.
When you call ask if your insurance coverage provides medical benefits. This coverage, called medpay, is valuable. If you have medpay coverage you should submit all accident-related medical bills to your insurance coverage. Medpay coverage is for accident-related medical expenses. When medpay benefits are exhausted, your private health insurance will take over.
8. Be Accurate
Tell the investigating police officer exactly how the accident happened to the best of your ability. Do not guess. Do not speculate. If you don’t know something, tell the police officer that you don’t know.
If the police officer or emergency responder asks if you’re injured and you don’t know, say that you don’t know. It’s ok to tell the police officer that you’re not sure. Many injuries and symptoms, such as pain, do not become obvious until hours after the accident when your adrenaline has worn off. If you answer that you aren’t injured, that can and will be used against you during the litigation process.
By being accurate with every answer, you can avoid attacks on your credibility in the future.
9. Take Pictures of the Accident Scene, Property Damage, and Injuries
Pictures of the accident scene or your injuries are invaluable. Take as many pictures of the scene, the vehicles, and your injuries as possible.
10. Document Everything
In addition to taking photos or videos of the accident scene, property damage, and injuries, write down everything you remember so that your car accident lawyer can use this to prepare your case and negotiate on your behalf.
11. Do Not Sign Anything
Do not sign any documents offered to you at the accident scene without first reviewing them with your attorney.
12. Stay at the Accident Scene Until Others Leave
If possible, do not leave the auto accident scene until the other driver and the police officer have left. Stay until the end of the immediate crash investigation.
13. Get Medical Attention
Often it takes hours or even days before the extent of your auto accident injuries becomes clear. Many of our clients do not report paid until a day or two after the crash. Unless you are 100 percent sure that you have no injuries, seek medical attention at your local hospital or with your primary care physician right away. Ask your doctor to examine you from head to toe. If you lost consciousness or were dazed in the accident, you may have a concussion or traumatic brain injury. These injuries can lead to long-term problems including cognitive decline and behavioral changes.
14. Look Out for You and Your Family by Protecting Your Legal Rights
You are allowed to represent yourself when seeking compensation from the car insurance company after an auto accident in Virginia. But doing so is the wrong choice in many cases. Insurance companies will use their knowledge of the laws to try to pressure you into doing things that are not beneficial to your claim. An auto accident attorney will protect your rights, build the evidence, and make sure you have the best chance of getting fair compensation for your damages.
Cal or e-mail Corey Pollard for a free no obligation consultation today. We represent clients in and around Richmond, Newport News, and Virginia Beach in motor vehicle accident claims. There is no fee unless you recover!