Updated: Jan 18
8 STEPS YOU NEED TO TAKE AFTER A CAR CRASH
No one is ever expecting to be in a car accident. In the state of Virginia, a crash occurs approximately every 4.1 minutes resulting in over 128,000 crashes in 2019. Due to the approaching holiday season and winter months, an increase of accidents can be expected since more people will be traveling on the roadways and will face inclement weather caused by normal winter conditions.
After a car crash, people are often left confused, scared, and uncertain of what will happen next. Use the tips below to help you handle the stressful aftermath of an accident and to ensure you are protecting your rights.
1. STAY AT THE CRASH SCENE
Immediately after getting into a crash, you may feel overwhelmed or afraid that you may be found at-fault for the crash. It is important to try and remain calm and stay at the scene of the crash for a proper investigation to occur. It is also a crime to flee the scene of an accident. The degree of the crime will vary based on whether occupants of the other vehicle suffered injuries and the amount of property damage sustained to the other vehicle. Leaving the scene of the crash without proper investigation can also bar your ability to make an insurance claim to help cover your property damage or bodily injuries.
2 ENSURE YOUR AND YOUR OCCUPANTS’ SAFETY
If you can move without causing extensive bodily harm, it is important to check on your passengers to determine whether they have sustained any life-threatening injuries. If there are injuries requiring emergency medical treatment, contact emergency services or ask an onlooker for assistance in securing medical treatment for you and your occupants. If you can walk, it is important to walk to the side of the road to remove yourself from further harm.
You will also want to alert oncoming traffic of the hazard caused by the crash. If your hazard lights are operable, turning on your hazard lights will notify other vehicles to use caution when approaching. Further injury can occur if another vehicle causes a subsequent crash. This can cause more serious injuries, including death. However, you do not want to move your vehicle to allow the police to perform an accurate investigation of the crash.
3. REPORT THE CRASH TO THE POLICE
It is very important to report the crash to the appropriate investigating authorities as soon as possible. As an accident attorney, I commonly hear victims of car crashes claim the at-fault party offered to pay for the damages in cash rather than making a formal police report and filing a claim with insurance. This creates many barriers for your attorney to properly investigate your claim and proceed against the other vehicle’s insurance company. The police report helps provide proof that the accident happened and identifies the people involved. However, it is important that you never admit fault for a crash. It is the police officer’s job to determine the cause of the crash by listening to both drivers’ explanations and examining the property damage and placement of the vehicles.
4 TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS
Taking photos of an accident scene can make a difference in proving your case. It is important to take photographs of the property damage sustained by each vehicle as well as photographs portraying the entire crash scene. These photographs help provide objective evidence of how the accident occurred. If you have any visible injuries such as abrasions and bruising, it is critical to take photographs to depict the severity of your injuries.
5. TALK TO ANY WITNESSES
Independent witnesses can be crucial in proving liability in your case. Independent witnesses are third parties not involved in the crash but who observed how the crash occurred. Many times, an at-fault driver will try to place fault on the other vehicle to lessen liability. This attempt to evade being found at fault for the crash can be deterred by having an independent witness explain how the crash happened.
6 SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT
Injuries may not be readily apparent immediately after the crash. Many people experience shock after being involved in an accident which will help disguise pain. However, once the shock fades the pain will set in. It is important to get examined by a medical provider as soon as possible after a crash to determine the severity of your injuries. You may seek treatment by presenting to an urgent care, your primary care physician, or if an emergency, to the closest emergency room.
7. DO NOT ACCEPT EARLY SETTLEMENT OFFERS
Often insurance companies will contact you early after an accident to settle your claim before you are able to hire an attorney. Insurance companies follow this strategy because it allows them to resolve your claim for less than it is worth resulting in the insurance company saving money. The extent of your injuries may not be well known immediately after a crash and you may require more medical treatment than you initially believed. Once you accept a settlement offer, you are unable to bring another claim to seek additional compensation for your damages. Do not lower the value of your case by accepting an early settlement offer from the insurance company.
8. HIRE AN ATTORNEY
As stated in Step 7, insurance companies do not want to pay out a fair settlement for your injuries because they are for-profit businesses and their main objective is to make money. It is imperative to hire an accident attorney to ensure your rights are protected and you have someone fighting for you in your corner. By hiring an attorney, you can focus on getting the medical treatment you need to heal, and the attorney will handle the more stressful details of dealing with the insurance companies.
By hiring our firm, our attorneys will fight to maximize compensation for your injuries caused by another person’s negligence. Please contact us for a free consultation at 757-909-9737 or by filling out the consultation form found here.