Virginia Car Accident Quick Guide
Quick Reference Guide For Virginians Injured In An Auto Accident Through No Fault Of Their Own
Step One: Call 911Get help, if necessary.
Being in a car accident, caused by the negligence of another driver, can be terrifying.
There's frequently an initial moment of shock.
No matter where you are on the road, you need to take a solid look to see if you, your passengers, or others were injured in the accident. This is the crucial first step before hiring a personal injury / car accident lawyer.
Yes, this is true even if there is no readily apparent property damage. An academic study that we frequently cite to insurance adjusters from the State of Florida concluded that many times people are injured even if low-impact collisions.
So, take a moment and assess yourself.
Ask "Is anyone hurt?" to others in the car.
Examine them for trauma, if competent to do so.
Ask them to look you over.
Ask yourself: can you and your passengers move? Do you potentially have a whiplash injury? If you have any question whatsoever, get medical help immediately. Don't hesitate.
If someone is in immediate need of medical assistance, call 911.
Calling 911 for injured parties is also very important in later getting compensated for your injuries. That's because car accident legal cases are all about documentation.
If police also arrive, they may generate documentation and attempt to assess who caused the accident. Usually, the person that caused the accident - if their conduct was reckless or otherwise violated the law - may be charged with either a traffic infraction or crime.
Remember: a criminal case is about seeking justice. On the other hand, a personal injury case is about "being made whole again."
Before law enforcement makes a general "first look" of liability, they will gather evidence - including statements from other drivers and witnesses, as well as their contact information. This information is crucial for a personal injury or car accident lawyer to help prepare a case.
Remember: Even if an officer believe someone violated an ordinance the other person's insurance company may come to a different conclusion.
Interesting note: We've had several insurance claims representatives try to say that not calling an ambulance immediately affects the value of a claim. We think that's not always the case - sometimes injuries form later.
Lastly, if you or someone is injured - call for help! It may also be legally required to do so, in some circumstances.
Step Two: Gather InformationDocument. Document. Document!
Before law enforcement arrives you are your own detective, in a way.
If it is safe and prudent to do so, you're going to want to get the name, address, and telephone number from the other driver. Do the same of any witnesses. In a world where everyone has cell phones - request to take a picture of their driver's license. You're also going to want to ask for their insurance card.
We recommend that you consider not making any statements to the other driver.
If it's safe to do so and you're able to "get around", consider taking pictures of your injuries, as well as physical damage to the vehicles involved. After the accident, this includes pictures of bruising that may develop.
Take as many pictures as possible. Most people don't know what's relevant and what is not. However, a personal injury attorney will know what is relevant.
By documenting, the insurance company can't turn a blind eye to what happened. Documenting by taking pictures also has a second purpose and that's to show the location of the impact on the vehicle, the road conditions, and the force of the impact.
At Correll Law Firm, we'll use the evidence available to help develop your case.
Document and seek medical treatment immediately if your condition after the accident worsens or new medical conditions emerge. Go to every appointment with a health provider and follow all treatment recommendations.
The insurance company for the other driver will draw a bullseye in any gaps in treatment to try to diminish your claim. Don't let them!
Step Three: Schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney.As soon as the other driver's insurance company gets wind of what happened, they're going to want to lock you down in a recorded statement. Let's just say they aren't always trying to find "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
Frequently they develop questions to either place blame on you or to minimize the conduct of the driver that harmed you.
In Virginia (with some exceptions), if a party is 1% to blame they can't recover. That's called contributory negligence. This is the kind of information that the other driver's claims representative is trying to extract from you.
We, at Correll Law Firm, highly recommend that - before you talk to them - that you reach out for legal advice. Even if it's not us!
Having a personal injury lawyer will protect you. What's more, attorneys protect you from incomplete or inaccurate statements that can be played to look like you did something wrong.
A car accident / personal injury lawyerl will also be able to collect and preserve important evidence that will help you do well in negotiations. If the insurance company isn't fair in settlement negotiations, preserved evidence is also critical in any potential lawsuit.
Also - don't forget to take all your documented evidence to your first consultation!