The first things to do after a car accident in Virginia are:
- Always stop and pull your car over to safety if possible. Remember, failing to stop is an offense.
- Make sure everyone in your case is okay, and call the appropriate authorities.
- Exchange information with the other driver. However, avoid admitting or discussing blame.
- Gather evidence at the scene to support your insurance claim.
- Report basic details about the accident to your insurance provider.
- Contact a law firm that handles car accident cases to learn about your legal options at no obligation or cost.
The immediate aftermath of an accident can be frightening and confusing. However, knowing how to handle the situation and taking the right steps can help prevent the situation from getting worse.
Always Stop If You Are Involved in an Auto Collision
However minor you think the collision is, you must stop (a legal requirement). If possible, pull your car over to safety, switch off your engine, and use your hazard lights to alert other motorists to your situation.
Check for Injuries and Call the Appropriate Authorities
It is important to remain calm and check if anyone was injured, including the other driver. If so, call emergency services and the police and report:
- When and where the accident happened
- If anyone was injured
You are not required to (nor should you) discuss fault when reporting the accident to the police. It can be difficult to think clearly after a sudden shock; it is also challenging to know exactly what happened, so it is advisable to stick to basic facts. The responding officer will draft an accident report which can be helpful in your insurance claim later on.
How to Exchange Information With the Other Driver
Per Va. Code § 46.2-894, motorists have a legal duty to exchange specific information in the event of a car accident. As such (and if it is safe to do so), you will need to provide and obtain the following information:
- Name and phone number
- Driver’s license number
- Vehicle registration number
Aside from asking the other driver if they were injured, it is essential to avoid discussing the accident. Anything you say, such as a polite apology (a natural instinct), can be construed as an admission of guilt, even if you are not to blame for what happened.
If the other driver is angry or harasses you in any way, move to safety and record them if possible. Then, calmly inform them that the police are on their way.
Gathering Evidence at the Scene Can Help Your Compensation Claim
If possible, gather evidence to support your insurance claim at the scene. For example, it can be helpful to take photographs of:
- Your injuries
- Damage to both vehicles and their positions, including the registration plate
- The weather conditions
- The roadways or lighting and any skid marks from the accident
- Nearby CCTV cameras
Document your account of what happened before, during, and after the collision, including the date and time. Further, if there are witnesses, be sure to collect their contact details. Witness statements can help investigators piece together how the accident happened.
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Reporting Your Accident to Your Insurer
Once you return home safely, you will need to report the accident to your insurance company. It is important to avoid saying anything that could harm your chances of obtaining fair compensation for your injuries and other losses. You are only required to provide basic details about the accident and let the investigators figure out the rest.
Keep in mind insurance companies work to protect their bottom line, whereby a personal injury attorney’s goals align with serving your best interests in terms of your recovery and pursuing a fair settlement.
As such, it can be beneficial to discuss your situation with an injury lawyer to learn about your legal options. If you hire one, they can help you gather evidence, identify the liable parties, and assess all of your damages. Once they have completed these tasks, they will demand a settlement from the insurance company and negotiate until they reach a fair amount.
Understanding Your Legal Options Can Help Protect Your Financial Best Interests
The more information you gather first thing after a car accident in Virginia, the stronger your claim for damages could be. However, if your injuries prevent you from gathering evidence or an insurance company is giving you the run-around, we are here to provide legal support and fight for the compensation you deserve.
To learn more about how we can help, reach out to the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC, today at (571) 229-1800. We offer free consultations, and our car accident attorneys work on a contingency-fee basis, so we only take payment if we secure compensation for you.