What to Do After a Car Accident Not Your Fault
Car accidents cause painful injuries and are often emotionally and financially draining. Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C. has handled injury and car accident claims in Virginia Beach and surrounding areas of Tidewater Virginia for over 30 years. Our car accident lawyers can help if you’ve been injured. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Your Health and Safety Come First
If injuries occur or property was damaged in the accident, immediately contact emergency services. In Virginia, there are situations when drivers are required to contact the police after an accident. The police will collect information about the accident and prepare a report about the incident.
Protect Yourself and Your Claim
If you don’t require emergency medical treatment, start collecting information about the accident as soon as you can. If you are injured, see if there’s a friend or someone you trust who is available to document for you.
- Exchange insurance information with the others involved in the accident. This information can be found on a proof of insurance coverage card drivers are required to have in their car. Don’t give details about your policy or its coverage. Do make sure the other person has the name of your insurer and your policy number.
- Exchange contact information with the others involved in the accident. You may not need this information, but it can be helpful for insurers and investigators. Get the information of your driver if you were in an accident while in an Uber or Lyft.
- Gather the contact information of witnesses. Eyewitnesses can provide key information about an accident. If they leave before police arrive, their testimony can be permanently lost.
- Write down the date, time, and location of the accident. Accidents can be confusing, and it’s easy to lose important details. Make sure you note when and where the accident took place. Diagram what you know about how the accident happened.
- Write down the license plate number, make, model and other information about the vehicles involved.
If you can, take photos of injuries, the accident, the surrounding area, and other people around the accident scene. In the aftermath of an accident, you may not notice key details. Photos will help document the scene.
- Take photos of your injuries. If you have injuries, photos of them can help your claim by showing the immediate outcome of the accident. If you can, take photos of your injuries immediately after the accident. If you can’t do this yourself, ask a friend or someone you trust.
- Photograph the scene of the accident and the accident’s surroundings. It’s important to document the scene of an accident and the area where it took place.
- Take plenty of photos of the accident scene. Photograph details such as the damaged vehicles, license plates, skid marks, and debris locations.
- Photograph the surrounding area. The context of an accident matters almost as much as the accident itself. Signage, weather conditions, visibility and other details will give the accident context and make investigation easier.
- Take photos of witnesses, emergency personnel, and other people involved in the accident. These will help you remember who was there and what they were doing. It will also serve as an important record of who was present and their condition. Photos of people at the scene may help investigators understand which witnesses to follow up with.
When an Accident Happens, Stay Focused
Accidents are stressful, emotional times. When people are under stress, they may make assumptions that aren’t true. Don’t assume you know the full story of an accident. Do follow these tips:
- When you’re talking with police, stick to the facts that you know. There will be plenty of opportunities at a later date to figure out exactly what happened and who was at fault. At the time of the accident, stick to details you are certain about.
- Don’t blame yourself. Accidents are complex and can have many causes. All of the facts are not clear in the chaos that follows a crash.
- Don’t apologize or assume you know why the accident happened. Resist the natural urge to apologize or accept blame for causing the crash. Investigators will figure out the accident’s cause later on.
Get an Immediate Medical Evaluation
Some injuries may take time to show up. Injuries such as cuts are broken bones can be obvious and require medical treatment immediately. A medical evaluation will record them. If injuries are hidden, medical evaluation may uncover them and recommend treatment before they become life-threatening. A timely and thorough medical evaluation will help you protect your health and a potential injury claim.
Notify Your Insurer
Report the basic facts about the crash (when, where, who), and the information of the other parties involved. Stick to the facts of the incident. Your insurer may be able to provide temporary coverage of things like a rental car depending on your policy.
Keep a Journal of How You Feel After an Accident
A journal of how you feel after the accident will help you and investigators understand how you were affected by the accident. It can be an important source of information when you’re building your claim. Be sure to describe how you feel and any activities that have become difficult or impossible because of your injuries.
Don’t Discuss the Accident In-Person or on Social Media
If you’ve been in a car accident, resist the temptation to discuss the accident in-person or on social media. If you’ve been injured, keep your thoughts on the accident to yourself and let investigators do their job.
- Statements to friends and neighbors may misinterpreted and used against a claim.
- Posting on social media solves nothing and may damage your claim. If you post something on social media about the accident, you may be making a public statement. The insurance companies or other parties may copy your statements and use them as evidence to damage your claim.
Protect yourself and your claim by keeping accident discussions between you and your lawyer.
We Know How Painful Car Accidents Can Be
Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C. has the experience you need to move forward with a car accident claim. We’ve seen how car accidents can injure victims and their families. We work to make sure car accident victims get the help and compensation they need. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, contact us today for a free consultation. Learn more about what to do after a car accident from our frequently asked questions guide.