Most drivers are in at least one accident in their lives. In Virginia, 125,800 traffic crashes were reported in 2015 according to the Virginia Highway Safety Office. And while it’s important to remain cautious and vigilant while driving, there’s no way to prevent 100 percent of incidents. Here are a few tips for what to do if you’re ever in an accident on the road.
1. DON’T leave the accident site
Should you find yourself in an accident, no matter how minor or whose fault, the very first thing you should do is pull over. Bring your vehicle over to the nearest shoulder or far lane so you’re not obstructing traffic (if possible). Try to stay as close to the scene as possible and turn your hazard lights on.
2. DO call for help
Call 911, even if the incident seems minor. This will not only notify the authorities of the accident, but will bring the necessary, trained people to the site to aid in clean up. Do not attempt to clear debris from the road. If possible, safely determine if anyone is injured, be it you, fellow passengers or people in another vehicle.
3. DON’T over share or admit fault
You’ll need to speak with the police, either over the phone or in person, to report the accident and provide key information, such as your address, license number and vehicle registration number. Answer any police questions truthfully, but don’t talk to anyone else (or admit fault) about the accident. Don’t post on social media about the events either.
Ryan Wind, attorney at Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen in Richmond, Va., also suggests being kind in your interactions. “Accidents can be scary, with people’s emotions running high, so aggressive behavior and blaming can quickly escalate,” says Wind. “Also, don’t discuss fault, guilt or responsibility, no matter how obvious or clear it may be. Your goal is to simply check in on the well-being of the people involved.”
4. DO document the damage and scene
Call and report the accident to your insurance company. The sooner they know, the quicker they can begin working on resolving your claim. If it is safe and you are capable of doing so, take photographs of the accident, the cars involved and the scene. Try to get a clear picture, literally, of what happened, including street signs, buildings, weather, etc. You’ll need pictures of the car before you get it fixed at an auto shop for insurance purposes.
5. DON’T hesitate to reach out to an attorney
In Virginia, you may have the right to monetary damages if you’ve been injured in a car crash due to another party’s negligence or recklessness. This compensation can include medical bills, lost wages, property damage and pain and suffering. The best way to know your rights and options is by talking to an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Also, don’t sign any insurance company’s release forms (yours or theirs) or agree to any settlement offers to receive payment, until you’ve spoken with your attorney, as this could severely limit or reduce your ability to take future action.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t hesitate to seek legal counsel. In fact, it is to your advantage to do so.
For a free consultation or to learn more, visit AllenandAllen.com or call 1-866-388-1307. The attorneys at Allen & Allen have been protecting the rights of those wrongly injured for more than a century, and with eight office locations, can support you wherever you are.