What Steps Can I Take After a Car Accident That Wasn't My Fault?

After being involved in a Virginia car accident, you may be uncertain about what you should do next, particularly if the collision was not your fault. State law allows you to take legal action against the other driver; but there are some important steps you need to take, such as getting the other driver’s contact details and taking pictures of the scene and damage to all vehicles, in order to protect your claim’s value. Due to Virginia’s pure contributory negligence laws, proving you were not at fault for an accident is paramount to recovering compensation and often requires the assistance of a skilled attorney. If you were injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, contact the experienced Virginia Beach car accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free consultation. 

Gather Important Information

If conditions are safe and you are physically able, you should document as many details as possible while you wait for police to respond to the scene. By doing so, you can ensure you have all of the information you need to make a claim even if there is an error in the official police accident report or the other driver flees the scene. Important information to document includes:

  • The license plate number, make, and model of the other car(s) involved in the crash
  • The location or nearest intersection where the accident took place
  • The name, driver’s license information, insurance information, and contact details of anyone else involved
  • The names and contact details of any bystanders/witnesses
  • The traffic, weather, and road conditions, along with any hazards that may have contributed to the crash

Take Videos or Pictures of the Accident Scene

The more evidence you have that supports your claim, the greater your chances of success. The accident report will supply a narrative of how the accident happened, but the officer most likely did not witness the crash. Videos and pictures serve to broaden the responding officer’s statement and make it hard for the at-fault party to deny liability. Take photos that show as much of the scene as possible as well as of specific details, such as: 

  • Any property damage caused by the crash, including damage to your vehicle and the other vehicles involved
  • The other driver’s license plates 
  • Any visible injuries you suffered
  • Any hazards that contributed to the incident

The responding officer may sometimes take pictures, but it is always a good idea to have your own. Your Virginia Beach car accident attorney can use this information to help prove that the other driver caused the accident and protect your right to compensation.

Get Medical Attention

Being able to walk away from a car accident does not mean you are unharmed. It is, regrettably, not unusual for accident victims to decline medical attention because they think they only sustained a few bumps and bruises, or sometimes because they don’t want to be responsible for all the medical bills of going to an emergency room. Regardless of how you feel, you should always seek medical attention, especially if the collision was not your fault.  If for some reason you’re hesitant to go to a hospital emergency room then simply go to the closest available urgent care after you have left the accident scene but you definitely should tell the police officer that you think you are hurt. Your medical records will act as an important piece of evidence in your claim against the at-fault driver. Additionally, car accidents can cause invisible injuries, such as a concussion, whiplash, or internal bleeding. Invisible injuries can be serious and even fatal if left untreated. 

Keep Thorough Records

Equally important in protecting the value of your injury claim is keeping thorough records that prove your damages. You can show economic damages by keeping all bills, invoices, and receipts associated with your accident, like car repair bills and medical/hospital bills. If your injuries caused you to miss work, pay stubs or bank statements can prove your lost wages. When in doubt, always save a document that could be important. It is much easier to throw something away later than it is to try and track it down after the fact. With everyone owning a mobile phone, you can always take a picture of something that you might throw away later. Another good way to document your injuries and strengthen your claim is to keep a diary or at least record on a calendar, the details of your pain or medical visits.  Write down your physical and mental state daily including how much pain you are experiencing, if you feel anxious or depressed, and any activities you have been unable to enjoy due to your injuries. One thing that we can tell you after representing many car crash victims, you won’t remember those details six months later so that’s why it’s good to put them on a calendar or a diary that is simply focused on your medical injuries and how you are recovering.

Contact an Experienced Virginia Beach Car Accident Attorney

In addition to providing reliable legal advice, a Virginia Beach car accident attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can investigate your accident and collect additional evidence that supports your claim, such as the other party’s driving and cell phone records, traffic camera footage, and witness statements. Most vehicle accident claims settle without going to trial, but if the other party adamantly denies liability or their insurance company refuses to compensate you fairly, we can advocate for you in court to ensure you receive the financial compensation you are entitled to for your damages. In one recent case, we were able to secure a $1 million settlement for a client after he was struck by a negligent driver and left with lifelong injuries.  We’ve been representing personal injury clients since 1985, continuously throughout Virginia Beach, and all areas of Virginia.

If you were injured in a Virginia car accident, you can schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys by calling (833) 997-1774 or filling out the contact form on our website. Our offices are located in Virginia Beach, Hampton, Norfolk, and Portsmouth.