What Should You Do After a Car Accident?
After a car accident, the first step is to secure the scene. Next, attend to follow-up details and comply with medical advice. Then, you may want to consider seeking legal counsel as soon as possible. A lawyer from our team can manage your case from start to finish while protecting you from insurance company tactics that are not in your best interest.
Make Sure that Everyone in Your Vehicle Is Okay
Your first responsibility is to stay safe. If your vehicle is still operable, you may try to pull over to the shoulder of the road so that you’re not vulnerable to oncoming traffic. However, understand that moving your car will disrupt the scene and may alter the investigating police officer’s view of what occurred and how it occurred. After ensuring your own safety, you must attempt to help others.
Va. Code § 46.2-894 requires drivers involved in an accident to stop and try to help injured people at the scene. Call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so. Unless you suffered severe injuries, the law requires you to render whatever assistance you can to other injured persons.
Document the Car Accident Scene
Photograph the entire accident scene from a variety of angles if possible. While not always feasible, it is also a good idea to photograph the individual vehicles from multiple angles before moving them.
If you have them, use flares or emergency signaling devices to divert traffic from disabled vehicles. Only turn them on if you will not put your safety at risk. The law does not require you to put your well-being in jeopardy to render aid at the scene.
Take pictures of any additional details that may be relevant, including:
- Traffic control devices
- Road signs or markings
- Skid marks
- Driving hazards
Collect as much information as you can from victims and bystanders, such as the other driver’s license, vehicle registration, and contact information. Take down witnesses’ phone numbers, as well.
Find out from a responding law enforcement officer when a report will be available and how to access it. Make sure that you get the responding officer’s name and badge ID number, as signatures are not always legible.
If you leave the scene of an accident without rendering assistance, you could be criminally charged and lose your driver’s license. In the event that you were unable to call 911 at the scene, be sure to report the accident to your nearest police station as soon as possible.
Seek Medical Care As Soon As Possible
Symptoms of concussions, soft tissue injuries, and even internal injuries can arise after the accident. Shock can also prevent a victim from knowing the actual state of his/her medical condition right after the collision. So, if you go to the hospital or your primary care physician, you can start treatment right away, which will help prevent your injuries from worsening.
Getting proper medical care will help your cause in the event you want to claim against the other driver’s insurance for compensation. If you do not seek medical attention, the insurance company will argue that you were never injured. An insurance company might also say that you aggravated your injuries by not taking care of yourself.
Follow any medical advice that you receive after the accident. Keep any follow-up appointments recommended by healthcare providers, even if you believe it is unnecessary.
How to Pay for Medical Care After a Car Accident
You may have health insurance coverage or Med Pay coverage, which covers your medical bills up to your Med Pay coverage limits regardless of fault. If you do not have insurance and cannot afford treatment, you may need a letter of protection to receive the medical treatment that you need.
A letter of protection basically reads that the health care provider will be paid from any settlement or court judgment and protects the provider from financial loss. A car accident attorney with our firm can help you navigate the claims process and fight for the compensation you need to recover.
Document How You Feel Every Day
If you have not done so previously, you may want to write down or record as many of the details of the accident as you can remember. Keep a log of any symptoms and limitations you experience, as well as all expenses you are incurring because of the crash.
Secure Legal Counsel Before Speaking to an Insurance Company Representative
Your insurance policy requires you to notify your carrier of an accident as soon as you can. We recommend that you provide only the basic information until you can speak with a car accident attorney.
Our legal team can take on all aspects of your case for you, including:
- Collecting evidence
- Naming the negligent party
- Determining which damages you qualify to recover (e.g., lost wages, medical expenses, “pain and suffering” and inconvenience, etc.)
- Meeting any deadlines imposed by the state
- Speak to the insurance company and other parties involved in your case
- Represent you during settlement negotiations and/or a jury trial
Working with an attorney on our team can help you avoid costly missteps when dealing with an insurance adjuster working for the other driver’s insurance company. Insurance adjusters may try to mislead or trick you into agreeing with them. They may want you to give a recorded statement, authorize the release of your medical records, or sign a work record release. Signing any documents the other driver’s insurance company sends you is not a good idea.
Getting Started on Your Car Accident Case Right Away
Don’t delay in preparing your case after you were hurt in a car accident, as there are strict deadlines enforced by the state. Under Va. Code § 8.01-243, there is generally a two-year time limit to file a personal injury lawsuit. You may not be allowed to pursue compensation if you fail to take legal action before the deadline ends.
The Parrish Law Firm, PLLC Is Here to Help After a Car Accident
Unsure about what to do after a car accident or have questions regarding your auto accident case that remain unanswered? The Parrish Law Firm, PLLC dedicates its practice to injured victims. We will not charge you any upfront fees to get started with a case, and we will only be paid if we obtain a financial award on your behalf.