There are important steps to take after being rear-ended that will help ensure your health, safety, and the protection of your legal rights. It’s not unusual to suffer injuries and property damage after an accident. Recovering compensation from the party that caused you harm helps ease the financial burden you may be experiencing and relieve any stresses you feel as you attempt to recover from your injuries. Below, the Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, P.L.L.C., describes what to do after you’re rear-ended and how an attorney can assist you.
What to Do After Being Rear-Ended
Most rear-end collisions happen when you least expect it. You could be sitting at a stoplight and get suddenly hit. It’s challenging to have the clarity of mind to know what to do after such an experience. That’s why we’ve listed some important steps to take after being rear-ended. The more steps you take, the better you protect your rights if you file a claim or lawsuit against the responsible party.
Call 9-1-1 after an accident and remain at the scene until the police arrive. Reporting police officers come to the accident scene and ensure all parties are safe. Police will investigate the accident and determine whether anyone broke the law, like driving under the influence. Additionally, a police report details other facts regarding the collision, including the names of all involved parties, the contact information of witnesses, and in some cases, establishes the liability of the at-fault party. Your attorney obtains a copy of this accident report to assist in getting compensation for your losses.
Check for Injuries and Seek Medical Attention
Assess the condition of all parties involved. If you or anyone else needs immediate medical attention, tell the 9-1-1 dispatcher or the police to send emergency medical assistance.
Some common injuries suffered in rear-end collisions, like whiplash, are not immediately apparent. Some injuries may take hours, days, or even weeks to appear. Seeking medical attention after an accident and obtaining a complete medical evaluation is crucial. To recover compensation from the at-fault driver, you must prove a connection between the collision and your injuries. A delay in seeking a medical evaluation gives insurance companies and the at-fault driver room to create doubt as to the true cause of your losses.
Move Your Vehicle and Passengers to Safety
If it’s safe, move your vehicle to safety and out of the way of oncoming traffic. Secondary accidents can happen in the moments following an initial collision and cause further property damage and injuries.
If it’s safe and you don’t believe you require immediate medical attention, attempt to gather evidence at the accident scene. Useful evidence includes the following:
- The names, contact information, and insurance information for all involved drivers;
- The names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident;
- Photographs of the vehicles involved, the scene, and your injuries; and
- The police accident report number for your accident report.
Some of this evidence may provide concrete support for the driver’s liability. Proving that they caused your accident is crucial to recovering compensation. Your attorney will interview witnesses and review photographic evidence to build a strong case on your behalf.
Contact an Attorney
Contact an attorney after your collision to explore your options. You may not think it’s necessary. However, you could suffer injuries and be left with substantial medical expenses. An attorney can help you recover compensation for those losses.
An experienced attorney can:
- Gather evidence,
- Interview witnesses,
- Negotiate with insurance companies, and
- Prepare your claim.
Understanding the complex area of personal injury law without the assistance of a qualified attorney could leave you recovering much less than you deserve or none at all.
How Is Liability in an Accident Determined in Virginia?
Virginia follows the rule of pure contributory negligence. Under this law, injured victims must prove that the other party was 100% at fault for their accident to get compensation. If evidence suggests that an injured victim contributed to their accident in any way, even 1% of the fault, they cannot recover compensation.
Under this law, pursuing an accident claim after a rear-end collision is difficult without a qualified attorney. Both insurance companies and the at-fault driver will work tirelessly to prove you contributed to your accident to eliminate their obligation to pay for any of your damages.
What Can I Recover from the At-Fault Party?
If you are able to prove that the other party was liable for the accident, Virginia law permits injured victims in a car collision to collect compensatory damages through economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages represent tangible losses directly calculated from your injuries and other losses. Examples of economic damages include the following:
- Medical expenses,
- Lost wages,
- Loss of future earnings, and
- Property damage.
Documentation like receipts, invoices, pay stubs, and other financial paperwork helps your attorney calculate these losses and support your demand.
Non-economic damages represent intangible losses resulting from your injuries. They include the following:
- Pain and suffering,
- Emotional distress,
- Loss of consortium,
- Loss of enjoyment of life, and
- Permanent injury or disfigurement.
Due to their subjective nature, non-economic damages are challenging to prove. However, these invisible losses often cause more significant disruption to your life than the financial losses calculated under economic damages. Many car accident victims are anxious, panicked, or depressed after enduring such a traumatic experience. You deserve to recover financial compensation for this harm through non-economic damages.
For over forty years, the attorneys at The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, P.L.L.C., have provided superior legal representation to injured victims. Our attorneys work closely with our clients and ensure they receive the personal attention they deserve. We prioritize helping our clients and their families get compensation from the responsible parties.
We understand that choosing the right attorney may feel overwhelming. We are here to make the experience of pursuing a personal injury lawsuit less daunting. As you focus on recovering from your injury, we get to work for you. We seek justice for you and hold insurance companies and other parties accountable on your behalf. Contact us today to find out how we can help you!