A car accident can be overwhelming and could leave you facing painful injuries. If you can, you or the other party involved in the accident should immediately make a report of the crash. This requires contacting local police. When officers arrive on the scene, they will report what happened and the drivers involved.
Once you begin thinking about filing a claim or lawsuit against the negligent driver, you should start gathering your own evidence. Get a copy of the accident report for your records. You may also want to think about hiring a lawyer to help you with the legal process and collecting additional evidence for your case.
How Long do I Have to Make a Report of a Car Accident?
According to Virginia law (Va. Code § 46.2-371), you should notify local police of your accident as soon as possible if there are any injuries or fatalities involved. The officer who investigates the accident is then required to file their report with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and they should do so within 24 hours.
You should also take steps to inform your insurance company about the crash. Keep these details brief, letting the representative know basic facts such as:
- Where and when the accident occurred
- Information about the other driver
- A basic description of what happened
It is best to keep any communications with an insurance company to a minimum, as it could use the details you provide to affect your ultimate settlement amount. For instance, refrain from making statements about your own fault. Avoid making any recorded statements if the representative asks you to do so.
How do I Get a Copy of the Crash Report for My Records?
You can get a copy of your accident report from the DMV, either in person at a customer service center or by mail. You will need to complete an Information Request Form or a written request to get your copy. There is also an $8 fee.
Expect to provide the following information to retrieve your report:
- When and where the crash occurred
- Your driver’s license number
- Other details about the crash
If you cannot get your crash report on your own, someone from our team could assist you with this process.
What Other Evidence Could Be Relevant to My Car Accident Case?
Once you are ready to seek compensation for your accident costs, medical expenses, and other losses, you will need to gather more evidence beyond the crash report.
You will need evidence to show that the at-fault breached their duty of care on the roads and directly caused your crash and damages. They need to be primarily responsible for the accident and its consequences.
Relevant evidence that can help make your case include:
- Witness testimony
- Black box data
- Local video or photos from traffic cameras or business cameras
- Accident reconstruction
- Medical records
- Statements from your doctor
- Expert testimony
Why Isn’t the Crash Report Enough Evidence to Support My Testimony?
The crash report is not enough to show that the other driver is at fault in some situations. Supplementing this with local traffic camera footage or witness statements can go a long way to prove your right to seek damages from the liable party.
Additionally, some insurance companies will push back and argue that your injuries aren’t as serious as you claim. Again, additional evidence can show just how severely you were affected and how much your medical expenses cost—and will be expected to cost in the future.
What Other Steps Should I Take After a Car Accident?
Crucial steps you can take that could make a substantial difference in the outcome of your case include:
Follow Through with All Medical Care Advice
The insurance company will likely look for ways to reduce your settlement amount, and they may start by looking for gaps in your medical treatment. Don’t give an insurer the chance to say you worsened your own injuries.
Get all the care you need as advised by your doctors. This could mean taking certain medications, getting physical therapy, or other care.
Avoid Social Media
It’s normal to want to connect with friends and family during a stressful time, but we don’t recommend using social media to discuss your crash or injuries. Again, this is information an insurance company can use to challenge your claim.
If you post about your crash and then post photos of you taking a walk in a park, the insurance company could argue that you are “doing better than you say.”
Don’t Be Tempted By Early Settlement Offers
The liable insurer could contact you soon after the crash to make you an early settlement offer. How will you know the true value of your case?
It may be tempting to get a quick check to address your bills. However, accepting an unfair offer could mean leaving a great deal of compensation on the table. You have to understand the value of your case. Our team can help you learn more about what your case could be worth.
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Should I Work with a Lawyer to Seek Compensation After a Car Accident?
A lawyer from our team can help you navigate every step of the claims process when you’ve been in an accident. Here are some reasons why you may want to think about using our help:
- We’ll tell you all damages you qualify to seek, including medical bills, lost wages, and “pain and suffering” and inconvenience.
- We’ll help you seek the best possible settlement or award.
- We’ll take care of all of the legal details, including submitting necessary paperwork.
- We’ll talk to insurance companies for you, so they don’t push you around.
- We’ll protect your rights at every turn.
You may want legal help, especially in cases where you have serious injuries and rely on a financial recovery. We are familiar with how insurance companies work and understand how to counter the tactics used to lower your ultimate recovery. Our firm will fight for you.
Call the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC for a Free Case Review
You don’t have to deal with your car accident case on your own. Your lawyer can help you retrieve a car accident report, gather additional supporting evidence, and negotiate the best possible settlement for you. If you need to go to trial to seek results, our staff won’t hesitate to file suit and litigate for you.