Each year, there are thousands of motor vehicle accidents reported across the U.S. Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience. While millions of people will be involved in a car accident at least once in their life, few know exactly what to do immediately after one occurs.
We know how harrowing car accidents can be and understand that it may not always be possible to take all the recommended steps after being involved in a collision. Yet, it is important to understand the steps to take under ideal circumstances so that you can benefit from as many as apply to your situation. Here are a few of the most important things you should do if you have been in a car accident in Charleston, West Virginia.
Find A Safe Place
Car accidents typically take place on public roads where other vehicles are traveling in multiple directions. After being involved in a car accident, it is recommended that you get to a safe spot away from oncoming traffic, if possible. If your vehicle is disabled in the middle of the road and you cannot move it, you should first determine whether it is safe to exit your vehicle. If you can safely exit your vehicle, you should get to the side of the road as far away from oncoming traffic as possible. If you do not feel it is safe to exit your vehicle, or you have sustained injuries that prevent you from moving, it is recommended that you call the police for assistance.
Contact The Proper Authorities
In many states, the law requires you to report car accidents if there significant property damage occurs and/or if someone is injured as a result of the crash. When the police arrive at the scene of an accident, they will conduct interviews, gather information, and in many cases, draft a police report. This report will contain information about the cause of the crash, the parties involved, and who the police believe was at fault. If it later becomes necessary for you to file an insurance claim, you may be required to submit a police report with your claim-related documents. Finally, a police report creates an official record of the accident and can be used in court if a personal injury case is filed.
Seek Medical Care
Regardless of whether you believe you are injured, it is always recommended that you seek out a medical evaluation if you have been involved in a car collision. We have seen many cases where immediately following an accident, a driver will feel fine and decline medical care only to realize later that they have suffered significant injuries due to the crash. This can happen because, following a crash, your body can produce adrenaline which can prevent you from feeling pain caused by an injury. The legitimacy of injuries that are not reported in a timely fashion may be called into question by insurance companies or opposing attorneys.
Take Photos And Video
After you have contacted the police, it is recommended that you take photos and/or video of the damage to the vehicles or property involved in the crash (unless you need to receive emergency medical care. Your health comes first). Taking photos and videos of the entire crash scene can also be helpful. These images and videos can be used later to prove the extent of the damages and shed light on the conditions that led up to the crash. Taking photos of the other driver’s insurance card is also a great way to preserve that information for when you need to access it later.
Speak With Witnesses
If there were witnesses to the accident, it is important that you speak with them and get their contact information, if possible. If their version of events is consistent with yours, they can potentially be helpful in proving who was at fault. If the matter ends up in court, these witnesses may be able to testify on your behalf, ultimately helping you receive the compensation you are entitled to.
Contact Your Insurance Company
In every state, carrying car insurance coverage is required if you are operating a vehicle on public roads. Your insurance policy may also require you to contact your insurance company in the event you are involved in a car accident. Any delays in reporting a car accident may void your policy or make it difficult to successfully file an insurance claim to cover the damages. With that said, do not contact the insurance company until you’ve spoken with an attorney, as insurance claims specialists can twist your words to undermine the strength of your claim.
Seek Legal Representation
As soon as possible, it is highly recommended that you reach out to a personal injury attorney if you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident. Regardless of whether you were the driver, passenger, or pedestrian, attending a consultation with a personal injury lawyer can better ensure that your rights are protected and that you maintain the greatest chance to receive any compensation you are entitled to.
Contact a West Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer
After being involved in a car accident, you may understandably be rattled and looking for guidance. At Salango Law, our Charleston, West Virginia personal injury attorneys have handled hundreds of car accident cases and can guide you through the process every step of the way. From start to finish, we will take care of your legal situation and work to ensure that you receive every dollar to which you are entitled. For a free consultation, reach out to us today by calling (304) 342-0512 or by contacting us online. We look forward to hearing from you.