There is no question that a car wreck is a frightening experience. Unfortunately, this fear—along with the shock of the crash, adrenaline, and maybe a misplaced sense of blame—can cause problems for you as you consider the possibility of filing a personal injury claim for damages. While such feelings are normal after an accident, it is important to know how to set them aside and focus on keeping your composure. Doing so could improve your chances of collecting compensation for your injuries with the help of a qualified Virginia car accident attorney.

With this in mind, here are five things you should never do in the wake of a car crash:

Car Crash Mistake #1: Underestimating the Damage

This applies to both your body and your vehicle. Initially, the crash might seem to be a minor fender bender, but assuming the damage is minor might overlook serious hidden problems. With your vehicle, for example, the frame might be bent, despite the external damage appearing trivial. Likewise, you might feel physically okay, but adrenaline could be masking more severe injuries that present themselves later. Have a mechanic check out your car, and be sure to seek medical attention as soon as you can after the crash to be sure you know how extensive the damage and your injuries really are.

Car Crash Mistake #2: Failing to Document the Accident Scene

Many accident victims believe that filing a police report or giving a statement to the police at the scene is sufficient for protecting their rights. This is not always true. While a police report is an important part of your case, you should do your best to document as much about the crash and the scene as you can on your own. Take pictures of the involved vehicles, any damage, and their positions. Collect names and contact information from potential witnesses, as well as all involved drivers. If you are too injured to do so yourself, ask someone else on the scene to help you.

Car Crash Mistake #3: Accepting Responsibility

It is common for polite people to apologize when they bump into someone else while walking, for example. However, after a car crash, do your best to fight this instinct. Apologizing for the crash can be perceived as accepting fault, which could jeopardize your chances of collecting compensation after the accident. Even if you believe that you are partially at fault, do not acknowledge this at the scene.

Car Crash Mistake #4: Waiting to File a Claim

If you hope to collect compensation for the injuries you sustained in a car accident, it is important to act quickly. In most Virginia car crash cases, you have two years from the date of the crash in which to initiate legal action. Such action generally begins with filing a claim with one or more insurance companies, so you may need to get estimates on the repair to your car, as well as a treatment plan for your injuries from your medical providers. Be sure to keep all receipts and records of anything you spend related to your accident.

Crash Mistake #5: Skipping Out on Hiring an Attorney

You might be tempted to try to save money by handling your personal injury claim on your own. However, there is a good chance that you will cost yourself far more than you might save. Your lawyer is important for many reasons, including the preservation of important evidence and building a case for compensation. He or she can also ensure that you are asking for every consideration allowed by law—something that you might not know enough to do if you move forward without a lawyer.

A Hampton Car Crash Lawyer Can Help

If you or a loved one has been hurt in any type of traffic accident, the team at Shapiro, Walsh & Sharp is ready to provide the help and guidance you need. Our experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys will work closely with you and fight for the most compensation possible in your case, just as we did in securing a $235,000 settlement for a woman who hurt in a Virginia Beach car crash. Call (833) 997-1774 to schedule a consultation with us.