Experiencing a car accident can be a stressful and confusing event, especially if the accident wasn’t your fault. However, knowing the right steps to take immediately after the incident can make a significant difference in protecting your legal rights and ensuring you receive fair compensation for any damages or injuries.

In Virginia, there were 127,597 crashes in the last report from the Department of Motor Vehicles, marking an increase over the last year. If you are unfortunately included in these statistics, filing a personal injury claim allows you to secure compensation to move forward with your recovery.

Steps to Take After a Car Accident That Wasn’t Your Fault

Following these steps after an accident will help you document the incident accurately, safeguard your health, and strengthen your case should you need to pursue a personal injury claim. By being proactive and consulting with an expert car accident lawyer in Virginia, you can ensure that your rights are protected and that you have the best chance of receiving the compensation you need.

Collect Information at the Scene

Immediately after the accident, it’s crucial to gather as much information as possible. This includes the make, model, and license plate number of the other vehicle, the location of the accident, and the other driver’s name and insurance information. This information will be vital when filing a claim and building a strong case.

Additionally, gather contact details from any witnesses at the scene. Witnesses can provide valuable third-party accounts of what happened, which can be critical in determining fault. Note the weather and road conditions at the time of the accident, as these factors can impact liability.

Take Photographic Evidence

Photographic evidence is essential in supporting your claim and proving the extent of damages and injuries. Take clear and comprehensive photos of the accident scene, including:

  • Damage to all vehicles involved
  • License plates
  • Visible injuries
  • Property damage
  • Any contributing hazards, such as skid marks or traffic signals

When taking photos, ensure you capture multiple angles and distances. Wide shots can show the overall scene, while close-ups can highlight specific damages or injuries. These photos will help establish the facts and make it difficult for the other party to deny liability.

Seek Medical Attention Immediately

Regardless of how minor your injuries may seem, seek medical attention immediately. Some injuries, such as whiplash, TBIs, or internal bleeding, may not be immediately apparent but can become serious if left untreated. Medical records will serve as crucial evidence for your injury claim and help establish the extent of your injuries.

Even if you feel fine, seeing a doctor ensures that any potential injuries are documented. Follow-up appointments and adhering to your doctor’s recommendations are also essential for your recovery and your case.

Keep Detailed Records

Maintaining meticulous records of all expenses and losses related to the accident is essential. This includes:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Travel expenses
  • Any other costs incurred due to the accident

Additionally, you can document your physical and emotional states, pain levels, and the impact of injuries on daily life, as these records can provide valuable evidence to support your claim and help ensure you receive fair compensation.

Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company

Inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Provide a truthful and thorough report, including all the details you gathered at the scene. This helps expedite the claims process and ensures you’re covered under your policy.

When reporting the accident, be honest and precise about the events leading up to and following the incident. Avoid speculating or admitting fault, as this could impact your claim. Your insurance company will use the information you provide to assess liability and determine coverage.

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What Not to Do After a Car Accident

Taking the recommended steps is essential for protecting evidence and building a strong case with your lawyer’s help. However, there are certain actions you must avoid to preserve the viability of your case. Here are some common mistakes to avoid after a car accident:

Admitting Fault at the Scene

Never admit fault at the scene, even if you think you might be partially responsible. Determining fault is a complex process that involves many factors and should be left to the police and insurance companies. Stick to the facts when discussing the incident, as admitting fault can be used against you later and significantly reduce your chances of receiving fair compensation.

Not Gathering Sufficient Evidence Before Leaving the Scene

Ensure you gather sufficient evidence at the accident scene. Take detailed notes, photos, and collect contact information from witnesses. Document vehicle positions, road conditions, traffic signals, and weather conditions. This evidence will be invaluable in proving your case.

Leaving the scene without adequate documentation can result in overlooked or forgotten details, weakening your position.

Speaking to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Without Legal Advice

Avoid speaking to the other driver’s insurance company without consulting your attorney. Insurance adjusters aim to minimize claim payouts and may use tactics to get you to admit fault or downplay your injuries. Your lawyer can guide you on how to handle these conversations, ensuring you do not harm your case.

Not Taking Action Promptly

Failing to take prompt action can negatively affect your case, as Virginia law imposes a statute of limitations on personal injury claims (Virginia Code § 8.01-243), typically two years from the date of the accident. Delaying action can result in lost evidence and weakened claims. Ensure you consult with an attorney as soon as possible to understand your rights and begin building your case.

Seek Legal Representation for Your Car Accident Case in Virginia

Securing legal representation ensures your rights are protected and maximizes your compensation. Our personal injury law firm team at Tronfeld West & Durrett has a proven track record of success in handling car accident cases, and we are big enough to handle any case – no matter how big or small. We are ready to guide you through every step of the legal process, from gathering evidence to negotiating settlements.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you’ve been in a car accident, contact Tronfeld West & Durrett for a free consultation. We offer a no-fee guarantee unless we win your case and our initial screening call will allow you to discuss your case with our team and explore your legal options.

Call or text 800-321-6741 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form