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What Should I Avoid Doing After a Car Accident?

March 3, 2022

Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Will Help You Avoid Legal Mistakes Following a Collision.

Any car accident, even a minor fender bender, can result in physical injuries, property damage, and other losses. It is normal to feel confused, stressed, and even overwhelmed after a serious car accident. However, the actions you take following a collision can have a real impact on the outcome of your personal injury case if you choose to pursue legal action.

There are certain actions you should avoid doing following a collision.

Do Not Leave the Scene

It is a crime to leave the scene of an accident. Drivers have a duty to remain at the accident site, exchange contact information with the other driver, and offer assistance to anyone in need. If you leave prematurely, you can possibly forfeit your right to file a claim for damages and further legal action against a negligent driver.

In Virginia, leaving the scene of an accident is an offense that brings up to 12 months in jail for a minor accident, and 1 to 10 years for a crash when someone is injured or killed.

Do Not Wait to Call the Police

Initially, it may seem easier and less complicated to deal with an accident without involving the police and insurance companies, but that is a mistake.

While it may seem drastic to call the police for a minor fender bender, it is not uncommon to overlook injuries and property damage right after a collision. Between the adrenaline and the chaos at the scene, those involved in accidents will often say they feel okay.

However, if you decide to file a claim for injuries or damage you notice after the fact, you will have a tough time proving your case without a police report. Protect yourself by reporting the accident to the police right away.

Do Not Admit Fault

Choose your words carefully when speaking with the police after a motor vehicle accident. Always be truthful and transparent, without admitting fault. Let the police, insurance companies, and lawyers assess the facts to determine how and why the collision occurred.

It is not always easy to discern what caused a car accident. For example, a driver who rear-ends the vehicle ahead of them might naturally assume it was their fault. However, what if the first driver was not paying attention and stopped at a green light? If the driver behind them accepts fault, they are taking responsibility for a crash they did not cause.

You should avoid saying anything that could place fault on you. This is particularly critical in Virginia, which applies contributory negligence. Contributory negligence means a driver whose actions contribute to a crash in any way, even just one percent, is barred from getting any compensation.

Do Not Overlook Evidence

Sticking around to document the accident scene is probably the last thing someone wants to do after a collision. However, if you are safe and do not need emergency medical attention, take time to gather as much evidence as possible.

The details you document now become the building blocks of your case in the future. Take photographs of the accident location, including traffic lights and signage, hazardous road conditions, and damage to vehicles.

Exchange contact information with the other driver. If anyone else witnessed the crash, ask them to provide their contact information as well. Police reports are generally available within a few days to a few weeks after an accident.

Do Not Underestimate Injuries

Many car accident injuries develop or worsen in the hours and days after the initial crash. Some of the most common delayed car accident injuries include:

  • Whiplash: This is a painful neck injury caused by the sudden back-and-forth movement of the body during a collision.
  • Back Injuries: Damage to the discs, nerves, and ligaments of the back can be especially painful and debilitating.
  • Traumatic brain injuries: Brain injuries can occur if an object strikes the head or causes the brain to slam against the skull. Significant force can also fracture the skull or cause an object to pierce the skull and brain, causing long-term damage.

Even if you do not notice any signs of an injury after a car accident, it is always a good idea to see a doctor as soon as possible to rule out serious underlying conditions.

Do Not Discuss Your Accident on Social Media

Avoid discussing your accident on social media. You might be surprised to learn your online activity can be used by insurance companies and lawyers to build a case against you. They are likely to scour your online accounts to look for posts and photographs that contradict your claim that you are seriously injured.

Suppose you have been diagnosed with a painful and debilitating slipped disc. However, if someone tags you in a photograph with a friend taking a yoga class or running, this could go against you. Now, you must prove those activities took place before your accident. Still, your credibility is in question.

To be safe, make all of your accounts private and refrain from discussing your accident and litigation in emails, texts, and on social media.

Do Not Accept a Quick Settlement

Insurance companies are in business to make a profit. Their goal is to pay out as little as possible for accident claims. If the other driver is clearly at fault and their insurance company offers you a quick lowball settlement, think twice before signing.

If you have serious injuries, require hospitalization, surgery, or physical therapy, your medical bills are going to add up quickly. Combine those expenses with the costs to repair your vehicle and your losses may well exceed your settlement. That means you have to pay these bills out of pocket.

If your condition is keeping you from working, you are also losing out on needed income. Before you agree to any insurance settlement, contact an experienced car accident lawyer for guidance. You may actually be entitled to additional compensation well beyond what that quick settlement can offer.

Do Not Wait to Call a Lawyer

Consult with a car accident lawyer to discuss the details of your case and to learn about your rights and responsibilities after a car accident. As noted above, Virginia car accident claims are especially challenging to prove because of contributory negligence.

The evidence you gather and use to support your claim is critical. Your lawyer will work to gather documentation, enlist experts, and prove liability based on all of the evidence that is available. You need a solid case to recover damages. The right lawyer can build a compelling case and increase your chance of a good outcome after a serious car accident.

Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Will Help You Avoid Legal Mistakes Following a Collision

Because of contributory negligence, it is difficult to recover compensation after a car accident in Virginia. That is why one of our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers is needed to work tirelessly to gather evidence, identify expert witnesses, and build a solid legal claim. Our legal team at East Coast Trial Lawyers will protect your rights. Call us at 757-352-2237 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shore, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.

Areas We Serve

Our law firm proudly serves clients injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina on personal injury claims, including cases with traumatic brain injury, spinal and neck injury, wrongful death, and more serious injuries. As Virginia Beach personal injury attorneys with many years experience, our team of lawyers will be ready to fight for you. If you were injured on the job, our Virginia Beach Workers Compensation lawyers are ready to serve you.

Call 757-352-2237 or fill out the online contact form for a free consultation about your personal injury, workers compensation, or other attorney services. Our firm adopts a team approach to every case, so while one primary lawyer will be assigned to your case, you have the benefit of an experienced team of lawyers, all working on your side. We are located in Virginia Beach, VA, and serve clients who were injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina.

301 Bendix Road, Suite 460
Virginia Beach VA 23452
Ph: 757-352-2237 | Fax: 757-352-2220