Code of Virginia § 46.2-894 notes that for collisions that result in injuries, death, or property damage, you must exchange information with the other driver. You’re required to give your:
- License plate number
- Driver’s license number
- Vehicle registration number
You must also share this information with the attending police officer. Failing to give this information could result in criminal charges. A lawyer from our firm can explain more.
When Is Exchanging Information Necessary After a Car Accident?
Exchanging information with the other driver ultimately protects your right to compensation. It also shows that you followed the necessary protocol and preserves various forms of evidence.
As a rule of thumb, you should always exchange information with the other motorist. However, you’re absolutely required to do so if:
- Anyone was hurt or passed away.
- Any vehicle was damaged.
If you don’t exchange information, you could face a Class 5 felony or Class 1 misdemeanor. A conviction could result in jail time, fines, and license suspension. It can also affect your ability to seek damages.
You Should Report the Incident As Soon As Possible to the Police
If the police came to the accident scene, they likely filled out an accident report for you. If not, you generally have 24 hours to report the collision.
You can request a copy of the report through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) using an Information Request Form. You must include:
- The involved parties’ names
- The collision’s time and date
- The collision’s location
- Your name
- Your car’s license plate number
You Should Promptly Notify Your Insurance Company
Even if you didn’t cause the collision, you should notify your insurance company. Then, it can process your claim and evaluate your vehicle’s damage. If you don’t notify your insurance company, this could complicate the claims process.
Keep your report factual during your conversation. Refrain from admitting fault, pointing fingers, or giving opinions. You should also avoid apologizing for the accident or admitting any degree of fault.
The insurance company only needs your name, the location of the crash, and other related information.
What If the Insurance Company Asks for a Recorded Statement?
You don’t have to give a recorded statement to the other insurance company, but you may have to give one to your insurer based on the requirements of the insurance policy. In fact, refusing to give one to the opposing insurance company could protect your right to damages. Recorded statements generally don’t help you; they help insurers deny or contest claims.
Even seemingly casual questions can harm your case. For instance, if the claims adjuster asks, “How are you?” and you answer, “Fine,” it could downplay the severity of your condition. If you partner with our car accident team, we can communicate with the insurer for you.
What Happens If the Other Driver Refuses to Share Their Information?
The term “hit-and-run accident” is misleading. If a driver pulls over at the accident scene, refuses to give their information, and leaves, this is still considered a hit-and-run collision.
Even if the other driver leaves the scene, you have options. Law enforcement may locate the motorist by:
- Interviewing witnesses
- Assessing physical evidence
- Checking traffic camera footage
- Consulting accident reconstruction specialists
- Reviewing any traffic arrest records
You still have the right to seek compensation if the other driver left the scene. For instance, if you have uninsured motorist protection coverage, you can seek damages through that avenue.
What Else Should You Do at the Accident Scene?
In addition to exchanging information with the other party at the accident scene, you should:
Accept Medical Care
Accepting medical care immediately ties your injuries to the accident itself. Don’t let worries about healthcare costs prevent you from accepting medical care. You can recoup these losses later through a claim or lawsuit. Your health and safety are of the utmost importance.
Take Photos of Your Vehicle’s Damage
You want to document your accident as soon as possible. Take pictures of:
- Your vehicle’s damage
- The accident scene itself
- Roadside debris, shattered glass, or broken car parts
- Your external injuries
- Any hazardous roadway conditions
Evidence at the accident scene won’t last forever. It likely won’t last a few hours. Documentation preserves evidence that can support your right to compensation.
Jot Down Any Important Details
You want to document the accident while the information’s still fresh. We recommend writing down:
- The location of any traffic cameras
- Witnesses’ names and contact information
- Statements made by the other party
- The names of the attending police officers
- What happened right before the accident
All of this information can help your lawyer prove fault and liability for your losses.
Consider Partnering with Our Law Firm
You don’t have to seek financial recovery alone after a collision. You can partner with a car accident lawyer in Virginia. Our law firm can explain your legal rights, calculate your losses, and negotiate a settlement – all at no out-of-pocket cost to you.
Connect with the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC for More Information
Exchanging information after a car accident is the first of many steps. You also should file a police report, document the collision’s scene, and consider legal aid. To explore your options at no cost or obligation, call the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC, today.