Knowing the appropriate actions to take after a crash is critical for protecting yourself legally and ensuring you make a financial recovery when the repair costs and medical bills start rolling in. However, the shock and chaos of a car accident often make it difficult for victims to think through what to do next. You may be tempted to avoid dealing with insurance or remaining at the scene to speak with law enforcement. Unfortunately, failing to report the accident may cause significantly more problems than it solves.
When and Why You Need to Contact Law Enforcement After a Crash
The bottom line is that you should call local law enforcement as soon as possible after any vehicle accident, or have someone else call if you are seriously injured and need to remain stationary. In any car, truck, bus, or motorcycle accident involving a human injury or property damage, you are required by Virginia law to:
- Stop your vehicle as close to the accident site as possible without blocking traffic
- Render assistance to anyone hurt in the crash
- Report the incident
Here’s why that last step is important in absolutely any type of collision, regardless of injuries. It’s necessary to get details of the event into a written record that can be used later to negotiate with insurance. A police report lends substantial credibility to your claim when dealing with an insurance adjuster.
Having a paper trail of the accident to refer to, such as a ticket if the other driver was cited, is also crucial to protecting your legal rights. Of course, simply being ticketed by a police officer doesn’t automatically make that person liable for your damages, but it is extremely useful evidence to have on hand.
You still need to call the police even if the other driver flees the scene, or if the vehicle damage seems minor and you don’t feel particularly hurt. Car accidents, even at low speeds, come with the possibility of internal injuries that may cause extreme medical problems if they aren’t discovered quickly. Soft tissue injuries, organ damage, or a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may not immediately show symptoms at the scene.
If you don’t report the accident but then discover you have a TBI or some other injury a few days later, it will be much more difficult to receive a settlement from the at-fault party’s insurer or to win a personal injury lawsuit.
How a Lawyer Helps After a Richmond Car Accident
Making a full financial recovery after a serious car accident injury requires more than simply calling the police, of course. Crash survivors need to know what steps to take, and which to avoid, after the adrenaline rush from the accident wears off.
There is one extremely crucial pitfall to avoid in particular. Do not admit fault in any capacity to either the police or the other driver. Don’t even admit partial fault to try to make the other driver feel better if they are hurt. Instead, allow the lawyers and insurers to determine who is responsible.
A simple offhand remark here could drastically reduce your ability to recover the compensation you are owed. By following a skilled attorney’s advice, you can also handle other common defenses the liable party or an insurer may use to avoid paying what is actually deserved. The initial police report produced when an officer arrives on the scene is just one piece of evidence needed when recovering damages, however.
That’s why you need an experienced Virginia car accident attorney to perform a more thorough analysis of the accident. Your lawyer can determine exactly who is liable and the best potential sources of financial compensation. When that person is identified, an attorney then assists in pursuing a full and fair recovery for factors like medical costs, pain and suffering, property damage, and lost income.
Talk to a Qualified Virginia Car Accident Attorney
Do you need help covering your costs while recovering from a car accident? Find out about your options for recovering damages by talking to a lawyer with experience in Richmond car accident cases. Call to schedule a consultation and discuss your accident with the Mottley Law Firm at (804) 409-0876 or use our online contact form.