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First Steps To Take After A Car Accident in Virginia

Being in a car accident can be stressful and chaotic. There are so many things to take into consideration, you might not know what to do immediately after. Below, a Virginia car accident lawyer lays out basic first steps individuals should take after they’ve been involved in a car accident/

#1 Make Sure Everyone Is Okay – Call 911

The first thing to do after an accident is to check and make sure that you and everyone in your car is okay. If not, try and figure out how badly you’re hurt and if it’s going to be safe to get out of the vehicle, then call 911. If you see smoke or something like that coming from your engine you want to get out of the car as quickly as you can. Once you’ve checked for injuries, you want to call 911 and try to get emergency responders and police on the scene as soon as possible.

#2 Take Pictures and Get Information on Other Car and Driver

After that you want to take pictures of the cars. If the other driver tries to flee the scene, try to write down their license plate or memorize their license plate number and maybe snap a picture of it if you can. But you definitely want to make sure you can identify the other car. In most cases the other driver is not going to flee the scene. In that situation, you want to get their insurance information. Exchange insurance information and ask to see their identification, too, just to make sure that the person that’s on the insurance policy is the driver. And if they’re not at least try to figure out what that relationship is between the driver and the insured.

A lot of the time somebody is covered under an insurance policy because they’re a resident relative or they’re a spouse or some other permissive user where they’re allowed to be driving the car but they’re not named on the policy or identified on the insurance documents. It’s important to figure out that relationship. It’s important to identify the owner of the vehicle also. Sometimes they’re not the same as the driver.

You want to identify the other driver and their insurance company. Provide the other driver with your insurance information. If possible, take pictures of the vehicles where they were at the time of the accident. People frequently ask whether they should move their vehicle from the scene and in a perfect world you wouldn’t move the vehicle until the police get there. You’d have pictures of the vehicles where they came to rest. But a lot of the time accidents happen on busy roads and you’ve got to remember that safety is the top priority at all times.

If you’re not able to leave your car in the roadway, then you should take pictures as best as you can with the cars where they are before moving them, but a lot of the time that’s just not practical. When you’re talking to the other driver or trying to figure out what happened, you should turn on your hazard lights so other vehicles see you there and don’t hit you or your car after the accident.

#3 Don’t Talk to Insurance Companies – Don’t Admit Fault

Don’t make any statement to an insurance company and don’t admit fault. If the police showed up and asked you what happened, you can talk with the police but don’t admit fault. A lot of the time something as simple as saying, “I’m really sorry I hit the vehicle,” could be interpreted as an admission of fault. There’s just no reason to do that. So to recap, you should call 911, check for injuries, exchange insurance information, take pictures, and don’t make any statements that admit fault.

People often ask if they have to talk to the other person’s insurance company and the answer is no. You’re under no obligation to give them a statement. They will likely call and ask for that. However, you’re not obligated to do that. You’re not obligated to talk to their insurer and you can always defer to an attorney or you can say you’re seeking representation but you’re under no obligation to provide anything to the other insurance company.

#4 Write Down As Many Facts As You Can Remember

Pay attention to everything around you and try to write down as many facts as you can remember, including identifying potential witnesses. If there are people around or if you saw another vehicle, take down their license plate information. Write down anything that can help give an attorney, the police and anyone else investigating, such as your own insurance company, as much information as possible about how the accident happened.