Preparation for a Car Accident to Avoid Injuries and Damages
If you were to ask us how to prepare for a car accident, we would say wear seat belts. Research shows that seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. If asked how to survive a car crash, we would say don’t exceed the speed limit. Excessive speed contributes to more than one-quarter of fatal car accidents.
Newer cars have more safety features, but car accidents still happen every day in the Shenandoah Valley and across Virginia. It has been said that the average driver will get into a car accident once every 18 years. This suggests that a Virginia motorist who drives from age 16 into his or her 70s will be in about three or four car accidents.
You should certainly wear seat belts when in a car and drive at a safe speed for traffic and weather conditions. You also need to know what to do in case you are injured in a car accident and need to file a claim. A car accident attorney in Charlottesville at Kendall Law Firm wants to help you understand the proper steps to take if you are in an accident in Charlottesville and across Virginia and need to file an injury claim.
What To Do When You Get Into A Car Accident
Anyone who is injured in a crash faces medical bills and time away from work in addition to the cost of vehicle repairs. After an accident, if you are able, you should take steps to help yourself in case you need to file a car accident claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance.
After a car accident, check yourself, your passengers and others for injuries. When someone is injured, phone 911 for emergency medical help. If you are injured and emergency responders suggest you go to the hospital, get in the ambulance.
If possible, take these steps at the scene of a car accident:
- Call the police to report the accident and request assistance.
- Exchange information with the other driver.
- Set out flares or warning triangles a few yards behind the vehicles.
- Ask witnesses to give you their names and contact information, and write it down.
- Use your phone camera to photograph the accident, including your injuries, damage to cars, any debris on the road, and anything that may have contributed to the crash, such as standing water, overgrown vegetation or snow.
- Cooperate with police, but only answer questions with facts. Don’t blame anyone or accept blame. Write down the officer’s name and badge number.
What To Do After You’ve Been In A Car Accident
If you didn’t go to the hospital directly from the accident scene, you still need to see a doctor within 24 hours of a car crash. There are serious car accident injuries, including traumatic brain injury, that may not have symptoms in the first 24 hours. Going to a doctor documents any injury that you have suffered. A medical report of your injuries will be necessary to file an insurance claim.
Write down what happened just before the crash and how the accident happened. Do this as soon as possible while your memory is fresh.
Contact your insurance company to report the accident and file a claim. See what your policy requires. Do not accept blame for the accident or downplay your injuries or vehicle damage.
Do not discuss the accident with the other driver’s insurance company. Refer them to your insurer or to your lawyer.
Get a copy of your crash report by contacting the law enforcement agency that responded to your crash or requesting a copy from Virginia DMV. The cost is $8. Fax a request to (804) 367-0390 or write to:
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
Customer Records Work Center, Room 514
P.O. Box 27412
Richmond, VA 23269.
Start a file folder and save everything related to the accident – medical bills, receipts, reports, insurance company letters.
Do not accept a quick insurance settlement unless you have had an experienced personal injury lawyer review it.
Contact an experienced car accident lawyer to review your accident and provide a clear explanation of your legal options.
How To Prepare For A Car Accident
Beyond driving defensively and buckling up, there are some steps to ensure that you are prepared for the aftermath of a car accident. Kendall Law Firm has created a car accident glovebox guide you can view and download below:
You should have three documents in the glove box of your vehicle:
- Virginia vehicle registration
- Auto insurance card
- Emergency contacts (spouse, family members and/or friends)
Police will request the first two items listed above after an accident but, if you are incapacitated, they will look in the glove box for them. The car accident glove box guide is a great way to organize and make available information that will be needed after a car accident, when it may be difficult to focus your thoughts. It will be help police or other emergency responders find your emergency contacts if you are incapacitated. Don’t count on your phone surviving the crash.
Many crashes happen at night and/or in inclement weather. Be prepared to wait for help after an accident.
You can help yourself by having some simple emergency equipment:
- Coat and/or blanket
- Small shovel (for moving snow in winter)
- First-aid kit
- Bottle(s) of water
- Lug wrench, tire jack and spare tire
- Small tool kit (e.g., wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, cable ties)
- Jumper cables
- Flares or warning triangles
- Small camera (or spare cell phone)
- Pen and notebook.
Virginia Car Accident Laws
After you have been in a car accident in Virginia, you are required to stop immediately as close to the scene of the accident as possible without obstructing traffic.
Virginia law (§ 46.2-894 and § 46.2-896) requires drivers to report a car accident to police if:
- A person is injured or killed.
- An attended vehicle or other attended property is damaged.
- An unattended vehicle or other unattended property is damaged.
Be prepared to give the police your:
- Driver’s license number
- Vehicle registration number.
Drivers are also to share this information with each other, as long as injury doesn’t leave you incapacitated. In such a case, a driver should give the information to another occupant of the vehicle.
If a driver is injured and cannot report a car accident to the police immediately, he or she is to report it as soon as reasonably possible.
Virginia law requires you to provide reasonable assistance to anyone injured in a car accident, including taking them to a doctor or hospital or summoning an ambulance if it is apparent that medical treatment is necessary.
It is against the law to fail to comply with Virginia’s requirements for reporting a car accident. Failure to comply with the law is punishable by up to a year in jail or a $2,500 fine, or both. Here’s more about how to file a police report after a car accident in Virginia.
Talk To An Experienced Charlottesville Car Accident Lawyer
The car accident lawyer at Kendall Law Firm helps accident victims seek full insurance settlements to reimburse them for their accident-related costs and losses. In a serious car accident, this can be a significant amount of money, which the insurance company will work hard to avoid paying. An initial legal consultation about a car accident claim at Kendall Law Firm is always free. Our attorney does not charge a legal fee unless and until we obtain compensation for you.
Contact Kendall Law Firm after a car accident for a discussion of your rights and legal options for pursuing a claim. Bring any settlement offer you have received. We’ll give you straight answers and, if you have a claim, we can handle all the legwork and negotiations necessary to help you recover the compensation you deserve to receive.