Car Accident Dos and Don’ts
November 22, 2021 by GKwriter
Following a car accident, many people are not only injured, shaken up, and confused, but are often unsure as to what they should do to protect their own interests following the crash. At the accident site there are certain things that car accident lawyers agree you can do to protect your rights, and ensure that proper procedures are followed.
DO Remain at the Accident Scene- After an accident, even if it seems minor, a driver is required to remain at the scene. If you leave the scene, you can be charged with a crime that may also affect any potential claim for damages you may be entitled to receive.
DO Contact the Authorities- If there is property damage or personal injury, the police should always be called. This is not only because it is often required by law, but the scene also needs to be documented, and evidence collected may be useful in a potential lawsuit. You should also make sure that you write down the names and badge numbers of any officers on the scene. Additionally, you should request a copy of the police report once it is complete.
DO Exchange Information- After an accident, always obtain the information of the other party. This includes their full name, address, driver’s license number, license plate number, the make and model of their vehicle, and full insurance information. This information is key to holding those responsible for the accident accountable.
DO Call your Insurance Company- You should always contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident. The faster you report the accident, the quicker the claims process can begin. However, you should use caution when making a recorded statement to your insurance company without legal representation.
DO NOT Admit Fault- In the heat of the moment after a car accident, many people will inadvertently say apologetic words that may be misconstrued. In a state of shock, we may be tempted to volunteer information that indicates we hold some responsibility for the accident, even when we may have no fault whatsoever. Keep in mind that any statements you make at the scene may be used in court to attribute fault to you, regardless of whether any actual fault exists. Try to keep your statements regarding the accident to a minimum. If the other party admits fault, make a note of what they said, and when they made this statement.
DO Gather Witness Information– If individuals near the scene were able to observe any portion of the accident, it is vital that you write down their name and contact information. If you can also determine which portion of the accident they observed, as well as their opinion as to fault, this is helpful as well. Keep in mind that you should still not make statements to witnesses regarding your own fault, simply gather information.
DO Take A Lot of Pictures- If you are physically able, it is so important to take photos of the scene before it is cleaned up. Try to take as many pictures as possible from all different angles, and include the surrounding area. Obtain any other pictures you think might be important in explaining what occurred prior to, and during the accident.
DO NOT Ignore Injuries- After the accident, ensure that any serious injuries are immediately addressed. Get medical care for those who need it, and if someone is seriously injured, do not move them unless their life is in immediate danger from a fire or other circumstances if they are not moved. Additionally, if you have any injuries after the accident, do not ignore them or minimize them, even if they initially appear minor. Many injuries, particularly soft tissue injuries, may appear minor at first but can be latent, and seriously affect your life several weeks or months later. After the accident, see a doctor for any injuries incurred during the accident.
<h2>When Should I Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?</h2>
You should always contact an attorney as soon as possible after a car accident, especially if there are injuries or significant property damage. It can be very important to speak with a car accident lawyer prior to making any statements to, or negotiating with, your insurance company. Of course you should file the report right away as emphasized above, but keep in mind that insurance companies often have their own agenda, which may include “low-balling” offers for those who are harmed by a car accident. A lawyer can represent your interests, and prevent insurance companies from not paying the full amount of compensation to which you are entitled.
Virginia law can make obtaining compensation for your injuries in car accidents more challenging without the help of a car accident lawyer. With it’s “contributory negligence” law, if you are found to be at fault in any way, no matter how minor, you can be barred from recovery. This makes obtaining legal representation quickly even more vital so that you have an advocate who can protect your rights from the beginning.
Following these Dos and Don’ts after a car accident, as well as obtaining prompt legal representation, may mean the difference between being compensated for your injuries and receiving nothing. Our team of experienced attorneys can help you obtain the amount of compensation you are due. We can level the playing field between you and the insurance company when negotiating on your behalf. Contact us today for more information.
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