The first thing you should do after a Virginia car accident is ensure health and safety. Take a moment to breathe deeply, then evaluate yourself.
How do you feel? Are you experiencing any symptoms, either mild or severe? These might be a headache, soreness, or stiffness.
Be extremely honest with yourself and don’t downplay anything. You want to get medical attention as soon as possible even for minor injuries to prevent them from becoming major. You also need to document them in case you need to pursue an insurance claim or personal injury case against the other driver.
Now take a moment to evaluate your location. Did you make it safely to the road’s shoulder or a parking lot that is out of the way of the road? If your vehicle is not in a safe place and you’re physically able to get out, move yourself to safety.
Follow all instructions that emergency personnel and law enforcement give you. These guidelines are designed to keep you safe during this challenging situation.
Next Steps After a Virginia Car Accident
Once you’ve evaluated your wellness and safety, it’s time to begin the next steps in documenting the scene and getting the medical attention you need.
- Do not leave the area. Even if your vehicle is drivable and you feel fine, you must stop and talk to the other drivers and law enforcement. Otherwise, they might classify it as a hit-and-run accident.
- Call 911. Explain the situation and if you think you or anyone else needs emergency medical attention, ask them to send an ambulance.
- Set out flares, put your vehicle’s flashers on, and do your best to protect the accident scene until law enforcement arrives. This will ensure that they can fully evaluate what happened and report their findings. It will also give you time to document the scene as best you can safely.
- Follow all orders from law enforcement. When asked about what happened, do your best to keep it factual. Avoid adding in details that law enforcement may not need and never speculate.
- Document the scene. Take photos and videos of the accident scene as well as any nearby intersections. Don’t forget to document the roadway, which might have tire marks or additional evidence of the accident cause.
- Exchange information with the other drivers. But also obtain contact information for witnesses. Ideally, you should collect their name, phone number, and address. This includes passengers in the vehicles at the time of the accident. Take a photo of each driver’s proof of insurance.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible. There is no shame in riding away from an accident in an ambulance. Be sure that you’re getting the treatment you need as soon as possible. And if you don’t feel the need to ride away in the ambulance, schedule an appointment with your general practitioner as soon as possible.
- Keep a record of all medical bills, hours away from work, miles traveled to and from appointments, etc. This will be important in case you decide to file a personal injury claim.
- Talk to an attorney. The sooner you meet with an attorney, the better. You want details to be fresh and you want to avoid interactions with the insurance company without legal representation.
Why Your Actions After a Car Accident Matter
The steps you take after a car accident could be the deciding factor in how quickly you recover from your injuries and whether you can pursue compensation for the financial damages you incur.
Virginia has a strict contributory negligence law that states if you’re found to be even one percent at fault for the accident, you can’t file a claim against the other party. That means that every small detail matters and caring for your health and wellness first will protect you from facing questions about why you didn’t seek treatment sooner.
Geoff McDonald & Associates can help you recover financially after a car accident. Schedule your free consultation now to learn more.