Auto accidents are extremely traumatic for all the parties involved. Even those who are lucky enough to escape with minor injuries suffer emotional trauma for months after the crash. It is one of those things that happens in a moment, but has a major impact on your life. Anyone who was injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence has the right to seek justice in the form of fair compensation for their economic and non-economic losses. And the team of experienced Richmond injury attorneys at CAIL are ready to assist you.
We know that the result of a car crash is not just bodily injury, physical pain, emotional distress and mental anguish, but also a series of unexpected expenses with medical treatment and rehabilitation. At the same time, accident victims sometimes can’t work for weeks or months and stop receiving their wages. These two factors may lead even a financially stable family into debt. This is why our personal injury law firm exists – to help people injured by someone else’s negligence recover fair compensation for their losses.
How Frequent Are Motor Vehicle Accidents in Richmond, VA?
Our city is not safe from traffic accidents. On one hand, the annual report for 2020 released by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles indicates that in Richmond there were:
- 81 crashes
- 44 victims with physical injuries
- 2 fatalities
Also, looking at the chart with real-time traffic updates provided by the Virginia Department of Transportation, we can see that every day there are at least several incidents involving passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
Thus, no matter how careful you are, the sad fact is that anyone may be involved in a motor vehicle accident. Experienced Richmond injury attorneys can help you file an accident claim, negotiate with the insurance company, and win a fair settlement for your damages. If amicable negotiations lead nowhere, our car accident attorneys have the necessary courtroom experience to win personal injury lawsuits or wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of the victim’s bereaved family.
How Does Personal Injury Law Work in Virginia?
Before we move on to explain what you should do after being hit by a negligent driver, let us explain what the law says about seeking compensation after a personal injury case.
First of all, the basic principles of personal injury law are:
- the negligent party owed you a duty of care
- they breached their duty and caused the motor vehicle collision
- you suffered physical injuries and property damage as a direct result of the accident
- the injuries and damages caused you economic losses
Secondly, it is critical to know that Virginia is one of the few US states which applies the strictest doctrine concerning fault in personal injury cases: the pure contributory negligence principle. This principle states, very simply and without room for interpretations, that personal injury victims must be 0% at fault in order to have the right to seek financial compensation for their damages.
If the victim is deemed to have contributed only slightly to their accident, there are no grounds for personal injury litigation, as no court in Virginia is obliged to hear the case. This is why Richmond injury attorneys are in such high demand – to fight on behalf of innocent victims when insurance companies try to put some of the blame on them.
The Main Causes of Motor Vehicle Collisions
In determining fault, Richmond injury attorneys identify two main aspects:
- driver error
- other factors
Driver error falls into several categories of actions:
- distracted driving
- drunk driving or an intoxicated driver who consumed controlled substances
- reckless driving or negligent driving
- impaired drivers (such as fatigued drivers)
- aggressive driving
Other factors that may lead to auto accidents are:
- poor weather conditions
- poor road conditions (potholes, uneven road, debris on the road)
- defective vehicles
In any situation, Richmond injury attorneys with a proven track record of success will identify all the parties liable for your car accident. Even if this includes governmental liability or product liability involving big car parts manufacturers, experienced Richmond injury attorneys will fight to win the maximum compensation allowed for your economic damages and non-economic damages.
What To Do After a Car Accident
Since the issue of fault is so critical in our state, you must be very careful not to do or say anything after the crash which may be construed as an admission of fault or contribution to your injuries. Therefore, here are eight important things to do after any car accident:
1. Check that You and Your Passengers Are Safe
The first thing to do as you recover from the first shock of the crash is to check yourself for injuries. Remember, the fact that you do not feel pain or see blood does not mean that you are safe. You may have hidden injuries, such as internal organ damage or soft tissue damage.
Ask your passengers if they are alright and, if possible and while taking reasonable precautions, help them out of the vehicle (see the item below).
2. Go to a Safe Place
Unless you suffered extreme injuries (such as traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injuries), you should get out of the car and move to the side of the road for safety. If you suspect that you or one of the passengers has a head injury, neck injury, or spine injury, try not to jostle the head or neck. Any wrong movement can make the injury worse, and it may be best to have that person stay still until EMS arrives. If you are alone in the car, ask another driver or passer-by to call 9-1-1.
It is recommended to avoid moving the car from its position after the crash, at least until the law enforcement team arrives to prepare the police report at the accident scene. However, if you have to move your car, make sure that you take photos and videos of its position before you do so.
3. Call 9-1-1
Any car accident must be reported to the police. At the same time, you must seek immediate medical care for yourself and your injured passengers. You should receive emergency care at the crash scene and then allow the EMT to take you to the hospital for further investigations and treatments. Do not worry about the out-of-pocket costs (ambulance ride, hospitalization) because they will be included in your claim for damages.
When the police arrive at the crash scene, give a brief description of how the accident happened. Do not give any opinion concerning who may have been at fault. Do not say “sorry” or any other word which may represent an admission of fault. At any rate, if you suffered severe or catastrophic injuries, the ambulance crew will prioritize your safety over legal procedures and take you to the hospital as soon as possible.
4. Collect Evidence at the Accident Scene
Without risking further injuries, make sure that you take notes and collect evidence at the crash scene, while the memory of the event is still fresh. Record yourself on the phone describing what happened and use your phone camera to document:
- your injuries and your passengers’ injuries
- the damages to your vehicle
- the position of both vehicles right after the crash
- any significant elements – skid marks, potholes, fallen tree branches, and other obstacles on the road
At the same time, you should look for eyewitnesses and ask for their contact details. Their statement, given to your personal injury lawyer at a later date, may prove to be critical evidence for winning your case.
Last but not least, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Even if they are an uninsured driver, you may still be able to recover compensation if you have uninsured motorist coverage. At the same time, Richmond injury attorneys will seek ways to pursue the negligent driver for the damages they caused you.
You should not discuss anything with the other driver beyond exchanging information. They will likely report anything you said to their insurance company representatives, who will use your words against you to deny your claim for damages.
5. Notify Your Insurance Company
Even if you are the accident victim, you must report the accident to your insurer. In most cases, you will be asked to give them the accident report number, so you can wait until the police prepare the crash report.
Even if you are talking to your own insurance company, do not make any statements and give them any opinions on the probable causes of the accident. Simply give the basic information required.
6. Do Not Accept to Negotiate with an Insurance Adjuster
In most cases, the other driver’s insurance company will send a representative to talk to you while you are still in the hospital. They will claim that they want to settle the case quickly, so you can get well without further formalities.
This quick settlement is typically the lowest amount possible – not sufficient to cover your medical expenses and future treatment costs, and not enough to offer you compensation for pain and suffering. If you refuse the deal but still keep talking to the adjuster, they will try to persuade you that you are actually partly at fault for your crash, so you do not even have the right to file for damages. During the discussion, the insurance agent will attempt to make you say something self-incriminatory, which will be used later on as compelling evidence against you.
7. Complete the Recommended Treatment Scheme
Many people damage their cases because they check themselves out of the hospital against medical advice or skip rehabilitation and physical therapy sessions. Yes, they are expensive, but Richmond, VA personal injury lawyers will help you recover all economic damages.
Failing to complete medical treatment will likely be used against you during settlement negotiations with the insurance company. Also, this may make you lose credibility before the judge and jury in a personal injury lawsuit. You should follow the doctors’ recommendations to the letter, if for no better reason than to recover from your injuries to the fullest extent.
8. Hire Experienced Richmond Injury Attorneys
At CAIL, we know how to win your car accident case. We have experience both in negotiations and in court. We use innovative legal strategies and rely on our combined experience to do whatever we can to win the maximum compensation you deserve. When it is not possible to reach an agreement in a reasonable time, we will instruct you to file a personal injury lawsuit before the statute of limitations (2 years after the date of your accident) expires.
Also, we know that you are not in the best financial position to pay lawyers’ fees after your crash, so our Richmond injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. We will take our fees out of the settlement amount or jury award we win for you. This way, you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket. Do not wait too much time – schedule a free case review with us: 1-800-HURT-123!