No one plans to be in a car accident, but there are very important steps you can take if you or your loved ones find yourselves in this often-devastating situation. Many people do not realize that the things they do in the minutes, hours, and days after a car wreck can affect the rest of their lives. For example, your memory of what happened may fade or become clearer with time; other drivers or bystanders who saw something might be impossible to find after they leave the scene of the car crash; and serious injuries may not be obvious until days later.
To ensure you stand the best chance at receiving the full and fair compensation you’re entitled to after a car accident, it’s important take the right steps. In this blog, we cover the five things everyone should do as soon as possible after a car crash in Virginia.
#1: Leave Your Car Where It Is
It’s natural to want to move your vehicle out of the road after a car wreck, but this can cause you problems later. In Virginia, a person injured in a car crash must prove that the other driver was negligent – meaning the other driver was responsible for the crash. We can only show that the other driver was negligent if we know how the accident happened. Your memory of how things happened may not be enough, especially if the other driver has a different version. The best way to prove what really happened is to look at the position and location of the vehicles involved in the collision. Pictures of the accident can give clues about how fast the cars were driving, what caused the crash, when it happened, and who was at fault. If you move your vehicle, you may be accidentally erasing valuable clues that will be important later.
#2: Call the Police
Even if you don’t think you’re injured or the damage to your vehicle is not bad, call the police! You may not realize how badly you are hurt or how much damage has been done to your vehicle until much later. Many times, neck and back injuries do not fully present themselves until hours or days later. What may feel like a stiff neck can turn into debilitating pain. The same is true with vehicle damage. You may find out about expensive problems long after you drive away from the car wreck—sometimes a “fender bender” can actually involve serious damage to the frame and key components of the vehicle. Calling the police brings in a neutral investigator who will talk to witnesses, take pictures, and document the accident. Then, if your injuries or damage to your car are worse than you initially thought, you have a record of what happened and who was there.
#3: Go to the Hospital
The most expensive part of a car accident will probably be hospital visits. Even a short visit to the emergency room can cost thousands of dollars. If you were injured in a car accident, even minor treatment will be costly. Unfortunately, if you delay visiting the hospital, you could hurt your ability to recover those costs from the other driver’s insurance company. The other driver’s insurance company will only pay for hospital bills that were caused by the driver’s negligence. If your stiff neck turns into debilitating pain a few days after the car crash, the insurance company might claim that your injury already existed or that it happened after the accident. Go to the hospital as soon as you can after a car accident and follow up with all recommended medical treatment. It’s the best way to protect yourself and any claims you may have for compensation.
#4: Do Not Talk to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
The insurance company is probably not trying to help you. If they call you shortly after a car accident, they may be fishing for information that will help them deny a claim or pay you less. The insurance company is not likely to pay you what your case is worth. You have no obligation to speak to the insurance company and you should let them know that. Tell them to stop calling you and that your attorney will contact them when you are ready.
#5: Call a Virginia Car Accident Attorney
An experienced car accident lawyer can help protect your interests, deal with the insurance companies, and fight for fair compensation for your injuries and vehicle damages. Call our experienced attorney to get your car accident case started on the right foot.
We can be reached at (434) 264-5444.