Every second counts after a car accident. The shock, confusion, and stress in the immediate aftermath can leave victims unsure of their next steps. The actions taken in these critical moments can affect a person’s physical health, financial status, and legal rights.
As Virginia’s oldest and largest personal injury law firm, our team has over 700 years of collective experience helping car accident victims navigate the legal challenges they face. In this piece, we will provide insight for:
- Initial responses
- Dealing with insurance companies
- Seeking legal assistance
- Dealing with long-term implications
The immediate aftermath: What to do after a car accident
Your first priority should always be safety. Moving out of the flow of traffic, checking for injuries, and calling for medical help are initial steps to consider.
After safety concerns, contacting law enforcement to report the accident is important. In Virginia, it’s required by law to report a car crash if it led to injuries, fatalities, or property damage above $1500. The responding officer will gather information to write an official accident report, which can be critical evidence if you file a personal injury claim. Cooperate fully and offer a truthful account, but avoid speculation or accepting blame.
While waiting for law enforcement, gather as much information as possible. Exchange contact and insurance details with the other party involved, but refrain from discussing fault. Collect the contact information of any witnesses, too. If possible, take photographs of the accident scene, vehicle damages, injuries, and any other aspects that might help illustrate the accident.
As chaotic as these moments can be, remember everything you do and say could potentially impact your future claim or lawsuit.
Dealing with the insurance company after an accident
Notifying your insurance company about the accident should take place as soon as possible. However, it’s essential to recognize how insurance companies operate. First, you’ll provide them with accurate details about the accident. After that, an insurance adjuster will likely begin an investigation into your claim. Part of this may involve a recorded statement, a physical examination of your vehicle, or requests for a full medical history. It is important here, once again, to provide accurate information without speculating on fault or downplaying injuries. It is also a good idea not to agree to give a recorded statement.
How a personal injury lawyer can help protect your rights
Insurance companies are for-profit organizations and often aim to minimize payouts or deny claims. Initial settlement offers may not fully cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Insurance companies may also try to blame you for a crash to reduce the amount they have to pay. Virginia follows a doctrine of contributory negligence — if you are even 1% at fault, you may be barred from recovering damages. Therefore, having a lawyer who will look out for your best interests is imperative.
Seeking medical attention
Prioritizing your health following a car accident is critically important. Even minor symptoms can progress into serious injuries. Here’s what you can expect:
Immediate medical attention
Your health is your first priority. Even if your injuries appear minor or you feel ‘okay,’ seeing a healthcare professional is crucial. Some injuries, such as soft tissue injuries or concussions, may not show symptoms immediately.
Long-term effects of injuries
Injuries from car accidents can result in long-term or permanent disabilities that can dramatically affect your quality of life and ability to work. This can include chronic pain, disability, or the need for ongoing care or rehabilitation.
Documenting your care and costs
Make sure to keep all appointments, follow through with treatment plans, and keep a detailed record of your medical treatments and costs. This is vital evidence to demonstrate the extent of your injuries and costs in your injury claim.
The legal aftermath of a car accident
The legal consequences following a car accident can be as stressful, if not more so, as the incident itself. Navigating these complexities can shape your potential recovery.
Contacting a car accident lawyer
The sooner you reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer, the better. An attorney can interpret the various legal aspects of your situation, help you understand your options, and guide you through the steps you need to take next. With their wealth of experience, attorneys can identify nuances in your case that you may not be aware of.
Personal injury claims and lawsuits
Personal injury laws in Virginia provide for the recovery of damages in the event of injuries resulting from another party’s negligence or recklessness. However, claimants must adhere to the statutes of limitation. For most personal injury claims in Virginia, you have two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit. Failure to adhere to this timeline may result in the loss of your right to legal recourse.
Building a strong case for compensation
Your car accident lawyer will work tirelessly to establish the liability of the other involved party, quantify your damages, and negotiate strongly for compensation that truly reflects your losses.
Car accident attorneys handle interactions with insurance company representatives, protecting you from tactics to devalue your claim. In cases where a fair settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer is prepared to advocate for you in court. They will strive to illustrate the impact of the accident on your life, and the need for fair compensation.
The long-term implications of an accident
The aftermath of a car accident spans far beyond immediate physical injury and damage to property. The path toward physical and emotional healing is often extensive.
Yes, there may be visible injuries that require immediate medical attention, but the unseen injuries can be just as consequential. Psychological impacts such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression are common following such traumatic incidents. These conditions often require ongoing mental health treatment and support. Furthermore, physical rehabilitation or adaptive measures for disabilities might be necessary, further emphasizing the medical expenses associated with a long-term journey toward healing.
After the case is resolved, managing the sum of your reward effectively, possibly with the help of a financial advisor, can help secure your financial stability.
Contact Allen & Allen car accident attorneys today to learn about your rights
Facing life post-accident doesn’t have to be a path walked alone. Know that help, support, and professional guidance are merely a call away.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident due to the negligence of another party, contact Allen & Allen today. Our respected team has the knowledge, understanding, and dedication to fight tirelessly on your behalf. For a free case evaluation, call 866-388-1307.