Asking what you should (or would) do if you’re in an accident in Virginia Beach today seems like a simple enough question. You immediate reaction probably is that you already know what you should do. But do you really know?
There are certain things you are legally required to do under Virginia law. Then there are other things that you should do, even though you’re not legally required to do them. What are the steps you should take after an accident? The Jeff Brooke Team, a trusted personal injury law firm in Virginia Beach, answers the question.
Legally Required Actions When You Are in a Virginia Accident
Virginia statutes are very clear about certain steps you must take when you’re in an accident. They include:
Duty to Stop at the Scene of an Accident
If you are the driver, you are required to stop at the scene of an accident. If a person is injured or dies or if there is damage to an occupied vehicle or other attended property, you can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony criminal offense if you fail to comply with this requirement.
If you strike an unattended vehicle or other property, you are required to stop and make efforts to find the owner of the property. If you cannot find the owner, you must leave a note with identifying information, disclosing the incident and providing contact information. You are also required to report the accident to law enforcement within 24 hours.
If a driver fails to stop at an accident involving injuries or damage to an attended or unattended vehicle, any person over 16 years old in the vehicle is required to make a report to law enforcement within 24 hours of the accident.
If you’re in an accident where there are no injuries, you are required to move your vehicle from the roadway if you are able to do so safely. This law is referred to as Virginia’s “Move It” law. The reason for the requirement is to prevent obstructing the regular flow of traffic to the extent possible.
Provide Information to Law Enforcement and Other Persons Involved
You are required to provide your name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number to a law enforcement officer, as well as to the person struck and injured or to the driver or other occupant of the vehicle or custodian of the damaged property.
If you are unable to provide this information because of injuries you suffered, you must make the required reports to law enforcement and other persons involved as soon as reasonably possible and make a reasonable effort to contact the other individuals to provide the reports.
Render Reasonable Assistance
Virginia law actually requires you to provide reasonable assistance to injured persons, including taking those persons to a doctor or hospital if it is apparent that medical treatment is necessary or if requested by the injured person.
Recommended Actions If You Are in a Virginia Beach Car Accident Today
In addition to the actions that are legally required, there are a number of other steps you should take following an accident, including the following:
At the Scene
If anyone is injured or traffic is blocked, call 911 immediately. You should also call law enforcement if:
- A driver appears to be intoxicated
- A driver seems to have no insurance information
- A driver left the scene of the accident
Cooperate with any police or law enforcement officers who are present at the scene, but refrain from making statements about your opinion of the cause or fault for the accident.
If you are able to do so without interfering with the police investigation, take photographs at the scene and document evidence to the extent you can.
Exchange information with everyone else who was involved in the accident, to the extent possible, including personal, contact, vehicle, and insurance information.
Get Proper Medical Attention
Even if you do not think you are injured and were not treated at the scene, you should make an appointment with a doctor for a thorough examination. Some types of injuries are not immediately apparent after an accident, including injuries that can be severe, like traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The wisest course after an accident, even if you don’t feel like you’re injured, is to have a professional medical assessment.
Contact Your Insurance Company
You probably are required by your insurance contract to contact your insurance company. Regardless of whether that is the case, you should report the accident to your insurance carrier as soon as possible after the accident.
However, you should avoid stating your opinion as to cause or responsibility for the accident. You may not know all the facts and circumstances, and you could jeopardize a potential lawsuit by giving your opinions to your insurance company. Simply provide your insurance company with the factual information about the incident, along with the information you have about the names and information for the other individuals who were involved.
When Should You Talk With a Virginia Beach Accident Lawyer?
If you’re in an accident in Virginia Beach today, most likely your first thoughts won’t be about talking to a lawyer. But at some point, you will probably wonder if you should.
If you suffered only minor injuries, and all of your medical and property damage expenses are covered, it may not be necessary to consult with a personal injury attorney. However, if someone else may be at fault, and you were seriously injured, missed work, and face ongoing treatment and possible permanent injuries or disability, you should talk with an experienced accident attorney. You should do so before you talk with insurance representatives of the person(s) who may be at-fault. In many cases, you will not have to pay a fee to talk with a Virginia personal injury attorney.
Experienced Virginia Beach car accident lawyer Jeff Brooke is dedicated to helping clients recover the compensation they deserve. Contact us by phone at (757) 785-0837 or by using our online contact form.
Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.