If you are involved in a car accident that is not your fault, you have the right to recover from the person that caused the car accident and his or her insurance company for your losses.
Under Virginia law, those losses for which compensation is required include the damage to your car and your personal injuries. The jury hearing your case is instructed to include damages for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, inconvenience, and any permanent injuries. If you settle with the insurance company without going to court your settlement is supposed to include money for those elements even though your award or settlement is in one lump sum.
What do I do if I am in a car accident that is not my fault?
- Always call the police so that a police report will be made.
- Gather your thoughts so that you can be coherent and organized. Review the scene and reconstruct what happened in your mind.
- Tell the officer what happened. The other driver may spin the facts differently, so you need to be heard. If you can’t do this at the scene, the officer may come to see you in the hospital, or you should call him or her.
- If you are able, take photographs or have a friend do so at the scene showing the damage to both vehicles and the scene. If you are unable to take photos at the time, take a lot of photos from different angles of the damage later. Use a camera rather than a cell phone if possible.
- Check the speed limit and be sure that you were not speeding.
- If you think that you may be hurt, do not tell the officer that you are okay. He will check a box on his police report that there are no injuries. Soft tissue injuries often exhibit stiffness or no symptoms at the time of injury but usually get worse later. The adrenaline pumping through you at the accident scene may mask injury symptoms.
- If you think you may be hurt, seek treatment as soon as possible. Delays may lead to the insurance company saying that you were not hurt in the accident. Think carefully when you relate your injuries to a health care provider. Often only the major area of immediate pain is relayed, and other minor injuries become problematic later but were not mentioned at first.
- Call your insurance company as soon as you can. We recommend that you call within 24 hours.
- Pay attention to potential witnesses. If someone saw the accident, get their name and phone number.
If you are injured in a car accident, see an attorney as soon as possible. At our firm, the first consultation for a personal injury case is free. For more information call 1 (800) 201-9987 or (434) 332-5155 or fill out a consultation form here.