If you get into a car accident, even a minor one, the first thing that comes to your mind is probably panic or anger. You are probably thinking, “I’m already late for work! My boss is going to be so mad!” You might also be thinking, “I’ve already been in one accident already. How expensive will my insurance premiums be now?” Of course, you could be thinking, “How did that driver not stop? Couldn’t he see that I have the right of way?” In the flurry of emotion that comes after a collision, it is easy to forget all the steps you should follow after a car accident in Virginia. Following the right procedures is important, though, because failure to follow them could lead to additional expense for you, and you could even end up breaking the law.
What You Should do After a Car Accident in Virginia
After a car accident, it is important to gather as much documentation as possible. In order to achieve this, you must stay calm, which is easier said than done when you are facing expensive vehicle repairs. This is what you should do after an accident to gather the evidence you need to make the insurance settlement process go smoothly and, if necessary, to support your case in court:
- Consider the immediate safety of people involved in the accident and of bystanders. Move your vehicles to the side of the road to avoid causing more accidents, if it is safe to do anything else.
- Take pictures of vehicle damage and of the area where the accident happened. This way, you can prove that the vehicle damage happened during the accident and not later. Your photographs will also prove the presence or absence of signs, which may figure into determining liability for the accident. Now that so many cell phones have high quality cameras, it is easier than ever to get photographic evidence of the scene of an accident.
- Contact the police as soon as you can. If the accident was in a high-traffic area, you should be able to flag down a cop car. If you do not see any police cars, call the non-emergency line at the police department.
- Exchange contact information and insurance information with the other driver.
- Call your insurance company’s claims hotline and give a verbal statement of the incident.
What Not to do
Keep in mind what never to do after a car accident:
- Do not leave the scene of the accident without contacting the police or at least exchanging information with the other driver. Fleeing the scene of an accident (hit and run) is a serious crime.
- Do not admit fault or accuse the other driver. Make sure no one was injured, and then just exchange information and let the insurance companies sort out the details. Be polite to the other driver, but say as little as possible. Anything either person says can be evidence for the insurance companies or the courts.
An accident can be a scary and confusing time. Keep these tips in mind after your accident, and contact the attorneys of Ferguson, Rawls and Raines for help.