How Can I Protect My Rights After a Car Accident?

Car accident victims are often concerned about how they are going to pay their bills while they are recovering from a serious injury. Although you are entitled to pursue damages, securing full and fair financial compensation that covers all of your losses depends on what steps you take at the scene and what actions you take in the days following your accident. Unfortunately, knowing what to do (and what not to do) in the wake of a collision can be confusing and overwhelming if you have never given it any thought. Basic steps such as taking pictures, seeking medical attention, and staying off social media can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case. If you or a family member were injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, call the experienced Virginia Beach car accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp for a free consultation. 

What Steps Should I Take After a Car Accident?

To ensure your rights are protected, after a car accident you should:

Notify Local Law Enforcement

Even if your injuries and the damage to your vehicle are minor, you should always call 911 and request an officer to the scene. Doing so will ensure that your crash is officially documented and that a police accident report is filed. When interacting with the other driver and the responding officer, it is crucial that you do not apologize or otherwise admit fault. Answer only the questions you are asked directly by the officer, keep your response as brief as possible, and allow the police to conduct their investigation.  

Collect Evidence From the Scene

If your injuries are not too severe, take a few minutes to collect evidence that could be relevant when filing a claim with the insurance company or in a potential lawsuit. One of the best ways to do this is to take photos or videos of: 

  • The damage to all involved vehicles
  • Your visible injuries
  • Any skid marks or fluid spills in the roadway 
  • Weather and traffic conditions
  • Anything else that may have contributed to the crash, such as a malfunctioning stop light, missing signage, potholes, etc.

After you take pictures, try to speak with any bystanders who witnessed the accident. Take down their names and contact details so your Virginia Beach car accident attorney can question them later.  

Follow Your Doctor’s Treatment Plan

After you have documented the crash site and the responding officer has given you permission to leave, the next thing you should do is seek immediate medical attention. It is not uncommon for car accident victims to think they are unharmed because they are not experiencing any pain due to the adrenaline released during the crash. A thorough examination by a doctor will also detect any invisible injuries you may be unaware of, such as whiplash or a concussion. If left untreated, mild injuries can quickly develop into something much worse.  

In addition to protecting your health and well-being, going to a hospital emergency room will create a record that proves how your injuries occurred, how serious they are, and how they are impacting your day-to-day life. The actions you take after you have been seen by a doctor will also affect your ability to receive fair compensation. You should: 

  • Take all prescription medicines as directed
  • Go to all of your follow-up visits and physical therapy sessions
  • Obey all of your doctor’s orders regarding physical activity, returning to work, etc.  

Failing to heed your doctor’s instructions and missing necessary appointments could seriously impede your economic recovery once the insurance company gets involved in the matter. 

Do Not Discuss Your Car Accident With Insurers or on Social Media

Insurance companies can be quite helpful after a car accident, but only if you have done everything you are supposed to do. Since insurance companies are for-profit businesses, they are always looking for ways to minimize their liability so they can reduce your payout or, in some cases, deny it altogether. Do not make it easy for the insurance adjuster to deny or reduce your claim. Politely decline if they ask you to provide a written or recorded statement and never agree to release your medical records. When they ask you for these things, direct them to your Virginia Beach car accident attorney. 

Additionally, never underestimate the power of what you post on social media. Ideally, you should stay off of it altogether until your claim is resolved. At the very least, avoid talking about or posting pictures of your accident, and don’t post any pictures of yourself that the insurance company could willfully misinterpret and use to claim that your injuries are not real.   

Contact a Virginia Beach Car Accident Attorney Today

In addition to providing reliable legal advice on how to deal with insurance companies, your attorney can also interpret vital evidence, prove your injuries were caused by negligence, and build the strongest case possible on your behalf. Since 1985, the skilled Virginia Beach car accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have been helping victims receive maximum financial compensation for their injuries and other losses, such as the $1 million settlement we negotiated for a client after he was severely and permanently injured when he was struck by a driver who failed to yield the right-of-way. If you were injured in a car accident, schedule a free case review with one of our experienced car accident attorneys by calling (833) 997-1774 or by filling out our online contact form. Our offices are located in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Hampton.