What Information Should You Exchange in a Car Accident?
In every state, a driver involved in a car accident has a legal obligation to stop and stay at the scene until he or she has fulfilled a few driver responsibilities. These responsibilities generally include exchanging information with the other driver involved, recording information about the car accident and documenting the crash for insurance companies. If you fail to fulfill your duties as a driver, you could face a hit-and-run criminal charge. You could also hurt your chances of obtaining compensation from the other driver.
What Are Your Legal Duties After a Car Accident in Virginia?
The responsibilities a driver has after an auto accident are listed in the Code of Virginia, Section 46.2-894. This law states that it is a driver’s legal duty after involvement in an accident to stop as close to the scene as possible (without interfering with traffic) and exchange information with others involved. This statute lists all the information a driver legally should give and obtain while at the scene of a car accident.
- Driver’s license number
- Vehicle registration number
Fleeing the scene of a car accident without stopping and exchanging this information could meet the definition of a hit-and-run. It is also a hit-and-run if you do not offer reasonable assistance to anyone injured in the accident. If you strike an unattended vehicle, follow the steps of Section 46.2-896 instead. Make an effort to locate the owner of the vehicle. If you cannot find the owner, leave a note that has your contact information and name in a conspicuous place. Then, report the collision within 24 hours to the local police.
Additional Information to Acquire After a Car Accident
Exchanging names, vehicle information and contact numbers is important after a car accident. It could help your car accident claim further, however, to also acquire other information while still at the scene of a crash in Virginia. In the immediate aftermath of a collision, try to think about your case from a personal injury claim perspective. The steps you take while at the scene could impact your injury claim later. Do your best to not only fulfill the minimum requirements of Virginia’s law but to protect yourself with further information collected as well.
- Call the police and get your report number. Call 911 from the scene of your car accident if it caused any injuries, fatalities or property damages. Ask the officer for your police report number so you can request a copy later.
- Take photographs and videos. Take out your cellphone or camera and snap several pictures of the accident. Get the surrounding street, both vehicles, vehicle damages and personal injuries, if possible. Use the date feature for the best documentation.
- Obtain the names of eyewitnesses. Ask for the names and phone numbers of everyone who witnessed the car accident. Statements from these witnesses could help investigators piece together how the accident happened.
- Write down a description of the accident. Write down your own description of how the accident occurred while the details are still fresh in your mind. Include the date, time and location of the crash, as well as how you feel.
- Go to the hospital and get copies of your medical records. Get immediate medical attention if you have any injuries. Collect copies of all medical transcripts and treatment plans.
The more information you gather after a car accident, the stronger your claim to damages may be. Facts and information about your collision could lead to the identification of the at-fault or liable party. From there, you or a Richmond car accident attorney can bring a damage claim against the responsible party in pursuit of financial compensation. If you need assistance acquiring information about a crash, a lawyer can help you with this as well. Contact an attorney as soon as possible after a car accident in Virginia for advice about what to do next.