The Kendall Law Firm discusses the appropriate steps to take after a car accident to be well prepared if you need to file an injury claim.
It can be very hard to focus and think clearly in the hours and days after a serious car accident, especially if you or your loved ones have been injured.
First, you must stop at the scene of the accident, regardless of who is at fault. The Commonwealth of Virginia requires drivers involved in a crash to stop and remain at the scene to exchange information and render reasonable assistance to the injured.
You are required by law to stop as close as possible to the accident without blocking traffic and report the 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.
Check for injuries and request an ambulance if needed. The Glove Box Guide lists the phone numbers of law enforcement agencies serving Central Virginia.
You should keep the following documents in the glove box of your vehicle:
- Vehicle registration
- Auto insurance card
- Emergency contacts
With these documents, you will be prepared to exchange basic information with the other drivers and provide the information that the police will request. The Glove Box Guide is a convenient way to organize the information you need.
It is important to cooperate with the police and answer officers’ questions. But stick to the facts. Do not either accept blame or cast blame for the accident. You may think that you are in the wrong and then learn that the other driver is more at fault than you are.
The Kendall Law Firm emphasizes that you should make sure the investigating law officer records complete insurance information on the crash report for all parties involved.
If the police do not respond to the accident scene and make an accident report, you can file an accident report yourself with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV maintains the official record of all reportable crashes within the Commonwealth.
It is important to take this step if necessary to ensure your accident is documented by submitting an accident report (downloadable at FR200), along with the Information Request Form (CRD-93), by which you can obtain a copy of the police report for $8.
If you elected to have a Personal Injury Protection policy as part of your auto insurance coverage, you should be covered by your own insurance up to the limits of your policy, regardless of who was at fault. Once the investigation is over, your insurance company will offer a settlement agreement with you depending on the type of damages you are claiming.
If your injuries are serious and exceed the limits of your insurance coverage, you may have a right to file a claim against the motorist who caused the accident and his or her insurance. The Kendall Law Firm offers a reminder that you are not required to accept any settlement from an insurance agency. You should have an experienced personal injury attorney review the settlement and provide guidance about whether the proposed settlement is reasonable.
The law firm acknowledges the stress involved with being in a car accident and wants individuals to prepare for the complex legal issues that follow. If you’re involved in a car accident, make sure you talk to a car accident attorney to understand your legal options.