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What Should I Do After Getting In a Car Accident?

Getting into a car accident can be physically and emotionally traumatizing. In the aftermath of a car accident, adrenaline and stress can make it difficult to think clearly. You may make mistakes that ultimately hurt your chances of securing compensation, such as failing to take photos of your property damage. Having a checklist of what to do after getting into a car accident can help you take the right steps toward recovery.

Stay and Wait in a Safe Place

You lawfully must stay at the scene of any car accident in Virginia. Fleeing the scene of a crash without offering aid and calling the police could constitute the crime of hit-and-run. Pullover as close to the scene of the accident as you can and wait in a safe location. If you are too injured to move or your vehicle is disabled, use your emergency lights instead to help prevent other drivers from crashing into you.

Call the Police

In Virginia, you must call 911 from the scene of an accident if the crash caused any personal injuries, deaths or damage to property. State police or a local law enforcement agency must receive your name, address, license number and vehicle registration number. The other driver involved in your crash must also receive this information. When you call the police, request an ambulance if anyone has any injuries. The law obligates you to help injured parties receive medical care as someone involved in a car accident in Virginia. Take photographs of your injuries, the crash scene, and damaged vehicles while you wait for the police.

Do Not Admit Fault

When speaking to the police and exchanging information with the other driver, do not admit fault for the car accident. Do not tell the other driver you caused the crash or even that you are sorry for the accident. The driver could take your apology as an admission of guilt for the crash. When the police get to the scene, do not admit fault to them, either. Even if you think you caused the crash, wait for an official investigation to determine fault rather than automatically absorbing liability for the collision.

Get Medical Care

Check yourself for injuries while at the scene of your accident. Check yourself head to toe for sore spots, tenderness, tingling, numbness, bleeding, bruising or swelling. If you notice any injuries, report them to the police for emergency medical care at the scene of the crash. Get immediate medical attention for any injuries, no matter how minor. Professional health care could help you recover more quickly from your accident-related injuries. It can also document your injuries for an insurance claim later.

Even if you do not think you suffered any injuries, tell the responding police officer you wish to see a doctor before answering any questions about your injuries. You could have injuries your adrenaline is concealing, such as a broken bone, slipped spinal cord disk or traumatic brain injury. If this is the case, saying you do not have any injuries could hurt your chances of obtaining compensation. Wait to say you have no injuries until you have seen a doctor and received official clearance.

Call the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company

Once you have seen a doctor and received treatment, call the at-fault driver’s insurance company to report the crash and make a claim to damages. Then, contact an attorney for assistance handling the rest of your claim. An auto insurance company may try to refute its policyholder’s liability or underestimate your losses. An attorney can help you negotiate with insurance claims adjusters for a fair amount of financial compensation. If you need to take your car accident case to court for reasonable recovery, your lawyer can represent you during the trial process.

If you’ve been injured in a serious car accident, contact the Richmond car accident attorney at Pendleton Law.