Do you wonder what you should do immediately after a car accident here in Virginia? Here are a few things that we think are super important:
Talk to the other driver.
If you have to seek compensation for your injuries, knowing the details of the other driver’s information will be really helpful. This will include their full name, address, contact number, and insurance information. If law enforcement investigates the accident, they will typically create an “Exchange of Information” form that should include these details. Hopefully, they will also create a Police Crash Report. But if no law enforcement is available, getting this information will be up to you.
Also, when you talk to the other driver, you should ask them why they caused the accident. Obtaining their admission of liability can be used later if there’s a question about who was at fault for the accident.
Obtain witness information.
If there are witnesses around, make sure that you get their contact information, including a phone number and address. If there is a dispute about how the accident happened, witnesses can be vital in helping you establish your claim. Virginia applies Contributory Negligence, which means that if the defendant (the person that hurt you) is 99 percent at fault and you’re just (1 %) at fault, you are barred from recovery in Virginia. That means that a dispute by the defendant can bar your claim unless you have objective evidence proving how it happened. The best way to do this is by eye witnesses.
Call the police.
Reporting the accident will not only help ensure your safety, but it will also hopefully lead to law enforcement investigating the accident, taking witness statements, and if appropriate, charging the defendant with a traffic violation. This will result in a police report, which, while not admissible at trial, can help establish the facts for insurance companies about how the accident happened. If the defendant is charged and they admit to fault in their traffic case, in many instances, this can be used in court should you need to prove they were at fault for the accident.
Take photographs of property damage to both your car, their car, and the accident scene.
The saying that “a picture is worth 1,000 words” is right when it comes to car accident cases. Photographs can help establish fault, but also be very compelling to prove your damages and injuries to an insurance company or a jury should you have to present your claim.
See if there are videos of the accident.
If your accident occurred at an intersection or near businesses, investigate (or have your attorney investigate) whether there were surveillance cameras that may have captured the accident. Often times, intersections have video cameras set up for traffic regulation. Also, many businesses are using cameras to keep their stores safe.
Also, remember, in our smartphone era, most people have video cameras in their pockets. If you speak to any witnesses, ask if they happened to have their phone out when the accident happened. Perhaps you can get lucky, and someone filmed the accident. Yes, this is probably unlikely, but it can’t hurt to ask!
Remember, this isn’t everything.
Of course, this is not an extensive list, but these are essential things you can do to help preserve your claim. Virginia can be very harsh when it comes to accident victims pursuing their claims in court. Therefore, obtaining the foundational evidence of your case yourself can be hugely important when pursuing your claim.
Still have questions?
Make sure to check out our Personal Injury & Criminal Defense Practice Pages where we’ve answered many other questions you likely have. James Abrenio is a Fairfax-Based Personal Injury & Criminal Defense attorney who practices throughout Northern Virginia. You can learn more about James Abrenio, some of our Prior Results, and Read Our Reviews. Make sure to contact us at Ph. 703-570-4180 for your Free Consultation.