What Should You Do After a Car Accident?

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    After a car accident, the first step is to secure the scene. Next, attend to follow-up details and comply with medical advice. Then, seek legal counsel as soon as possible protecting yourself from insurance company tactics that are not in your best interest.

    Secure the Accident Scene

    Your first responsibility is to stay safe. After ensuring your safety, you must attempt to help others.

    Virginia law 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.

    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 do this 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, for example:

    • Driver’s license information
    • Vehicle registration information
    • Phone number
    • Email address

    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.

    Recommended Car Accident Follow-Up

    If you were unable to call 911 at the scene, be sure to report the accident to your nearest police station as soon as possible.

    Follow any medical advice that you received due to the accident. Keep any follow-up appointments recommended by healthcare providers, even if you believe it is unnecessary.

    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.

    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.

    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, which you can use during this time. 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 can help you navigate the claims process and fight for the compensation you need to recover.

    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. It is vital that you provide only the basic information until you can speak with a car accident attorney.

    Working with an attorney 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.

    The Parrish Law Firm, PLLC is here to help

    You may believe you can negotiate a settlement on your own, based on what you have read online or heard from friends who have gone through similar experiences. When it comes to protecting your rights and learning your legal options, however, there is no substitute for an experienced car accident attorney.

    The Parrish Law Firm, PLLC dedicates its practice to injured victims.  If you would like to schedule a free consultation with a car accident attorney, call the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC at 1-571-229-1800.

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