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 law firm 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 you are 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 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 suffer severe injuries, the law requires you to help other injured persons.
Document the Car Accident Scene
Photograph the entire accident scene from a variety of angles if possible. While not always feasible, photographing the individual vehicles from multiple angles before moving them is also a good idea.
Using flares or emergency signaling devices to divert traffic from disabled vehicles if you have them. Only turn them on if you will not put your safety at risk. The law does not require you to jeopardize your well-being 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 possible 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. Ensure 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. If you cannot call 911 at the scene, 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. Unfortunately, shock can also prevent a victim from knowing the actual state of their medical condition right after the collision. So, if you go to the hospital or your primary care physician, you can start treatment immediately, which will help prevent your injuries from worsening.
Getting proper medical care will help your cause if you want to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance for compensation. The insurance company will argue that you were never injured if you do not seek medical attention. 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.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer for Help
After receiving the medical attention and care you need, your next call should be to a car accident attorney. Although you may be hesitant to call a lawyer for help due to the costs or fear of intimidation, by choosing an attorney in our firm, you can rest easier.
We will handle all of the legal details of your case. As a result, you should be able to spend your time and energy healing from your car accident injuries and not dealing with a complicated litigation process. Instead, our legal team will begin reviewing the evidence, gathering additional supporting evidence, reviewing your losses, and preparing to seek compensation with the insurance company and in court.
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. However, if you do not have insurance and cannot afford treatment, you may need a letter of protection to receive the medical treatment you need.
A letter of protection 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. In addition, keep a log of any symptoms and limitations you experience and all expenses you incur 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 immediately. 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 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. For example, 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.
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Getting Started on Your Car Accident Case Right Away
Do not delay preparing your case after you were hurt in a car accident, as the state enforces strict deadlines. 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.
Determining the Value of Your Car Accident Claim
Car accident victims often report being surprised at the value of their damages. Your car accident lawyer will go over your losses in depth to ensure you are seeking maximum compensation for your suffering.
There are a variety of losses you could recover as part of your claim. To accurately account for every loss, your lawyer will separate them into economic and non-economic damages categories.
First, we will go over your economic damages. Economic damages have fixed financial values. So, for example, when healthcare providers treated you following your injuries, you may have incurred various medical bills.
Your medical bills are considered an economic loss as they will affect you financially. You can prove the value of your economic damages by providing your attorney with copies of hospital and ambulance bills, health insurance documents, receipts from medication costs, or any medical equipment you may have required.
However, medical expenses are not the only type of economic loss you are entitled to. Other types of economic damages you may be able to recover include:
- Loss of income
- Loss of potential future earnings
- Loss of household services
- Costs of increased insurance premiums
- Vehicle repair costs or replacement fees
Non-economic damages are not a type of loss that has a quantifiable value. Therefore, it is up to your attorney to place a monetary value on it to ensure you are compensated fairly.
Damages affect every person’s life differently, which makes their value vary on a case-by-case basis. Some examples of non-economic damages you could recover after a car accident include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Skin scarring and disfigurement
- Damage to your personal and professional reputations
Punitive damages are rarely awarded. However, if the courts find it necessary to punish the liable party for their conduct, they may award punitive damages to show the community how seriously they are taking your case.
However, punitive damages are not considered compensatory losses, meaning you are not entitled to them the same way you are to economic and non-economic damages.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney from Our Firm for Help with Your Claim Today
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. Therefore, we will not charge you any upfront fees to get started with a claim, and we will only get paid if we obtain a financial award on your behalf.
Download our free Virginia Car Accident Guide eBook to learn more, or give us a call for a FREE claim review.