What Should I Do Immediately After a Car Accident in Virginia?

What Should I Do Immediately After a Car Accident in Virginia?

Car accidents are traumatic events, and no one’s first thought after a crash is “what can I do to protect my personal injury case?” Some other immediate concerns might be your personal safety and wellbeing, the damage to your vehicle, and what is going to happen to your auto insurance rates.

But if you were injured through no fault of your own, the parties responsible should be held fully accountable for your losses. This is where an injury case comes in, and the steps you take immediately after an accident could have a major bearing on the outcome of your case.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Virginia, here are ten things that you’ll want to put at the top of your list. Not only will they keep you out of trouble with the insurance companies, but they’ll also protect your rights to recover full and fair damages.

1. Stay Put. Never leave the scene of an accident, even a minor fender bender. This can be construed as a hit and run, and it will only add to your troubles.

2. Call the Police. It’s always a good idea to call the police even if there aren’t any serious injuries. Having the authorities come to the scene is the best way to get documentation of the accident for your insurance company. Unless vehicles are impeding traffic, leave them where they are until the police arrive.

3. Protect the Scene. It’s a good idea to protect the scene and reduce the chance of secondary accidents by taking a few precautions. If you have them, set out some flares on the road. Keep your flashers going on your car if they still work and make sure that you are in a safe spot.

4. Create an Accurate Record. When giving your report to the police, stick only to the facts. Tell the officer what happened and avoid guessing or speculating.

5. Take Photos. This is a time when you should be taking as many photos of the accident scene and vehicle damage as possible with your cell phone. If you’re injured and unable to do this, ask someone else at the scene to do it for you. If you have visible injuries, take pictures of these as well.

6. Exchange Information. The responding officer will typically obtain all of the relevant information from each driver and witness, but this is something that you should collect as well. Specifically, you want the name, address, and telephone number of everyone involved in the accident, which includes other drivers and passengers. Ask the other drivers about their insurance coverage and ask to see proof of insurance so you can copy down the information or take a picture of the card. It will also be helpful to get contact information from any witnesses while at the scene.

7. Seek Medical Attention. Some accidents are so severe that you may have to leave the scene in an ambulance. Most accidents victims, however, report that they don’t begin experiencing pain and stiffness until a day or two after the crash. Even if the accident was minor, you should seek immediate medical attention to document your injuries and safeguard your health.

8. Report the Accident. You’re required to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible according to the terms of your policy. What you don’t have to do, and shouldn’t do, is agree to give the insurance company representative a recorded statement or sign anything that could compromise your rights.

9. Keep a File. Begin keeping your own file related to the accident so that you can stay organized. This should contain your insurance information, pictures, medical reports, and other important documents.

10. Consult with an Attorney. Auto accident cases can be complex, and some of the parties don’t have your best interests in mind. One of the most important things you can do after an accident is to protect your rights by speaking with a qualified car accident lawyer.

Contact the Virginia Auto Accident Attorneys at The Straw Law Firm

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident in the Lynchburg area, the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Straw Law Firm are standing by to help. We are a client-focused firm that delivers effective and personalized representation to accident victims and their families.

Our goal is to resolve your case in a manner that is in your best interests, while always pursuing maximum awards for damages from the parties responsible for dangerous and deadly accidents on Virginia’s roads. Contact our office today at (434) 448-2690 to schedule your free initial consultation.


The Process of a Virginia Divorce

One of the most difficult and consequential decisions individuals ever have to make is to get a divorce. If you have exhausted all attempts to save your marriage and believe there is no other alternative, then you must begin preparing for the marriage dissolution process. In Virginia, the divorce process can take several months or longer, depending on the type of divorce you are seeking and other specific circumstances of your case.

Understanding the Virginia Divorce Process

Before you can file for divorce in Virginia, you need to check and make sure you are eligible.  The first thing to look at is the residency requirement. Under Virginia law, the spouse who is requesting the divorce must have lived in the Commonwealth for at least six months prior to filing.

Once you have established that you meet the residency requirements, you need to decide whether it will be a “no-fault” or fault-based divorce.

No-Fault Divorces

A no-fault divorce is generally simpler and easier, because you do not have to prove “fault” in court. That said, there are some important requirements that must be met before you can choose the no-fault option:

  • Meet the residency requirement: For a no-fault divorce, both spouses must have lived in Virginia for at least six months before the divorce is filed.
  • Prepare a separation agreement: To get a no-fault divorce in Virginia, you will need a written, voluntary separation agreement. This agreement addresses important issues such as division of marital property, alimony/spousal support, child support, and child custody and visitation. If you have a fairly simple and straightforward case and you and your spouse agree on everything, you may be able to negotiate this agreement on your own. Keep in mind, however, that this agreement is likely to be the basis for your final divorce settlement later on. And even with uncontested divorces, there may still be small areas of disagreement that need to be worked out. For these reasons, it is usually a good idea to negotiate this agreement with the help of a skilled family law attorney who is looking out for your best interests. 
  • Live physically separate and apart: To file for a no-fault divorce, you must live separately from your spouse for at least six months if you have no minor children, and at least one year if you have children. “Living separately” generally means living in different locations and ending your spousal relationship. This separation must be continuous and at least one of the spouses must have the intention of separating permanently. Any interruption to the separation (even cohabitating for one night) will restart the clock and delay the process.

Fault-Based Divorces

Virginia allows you to file for a fault-based divorce based on one of the following grounds:

  • Adultery: Clear and convincing evidence of adultery or other sexual acts outside of marriage.
  • Cruelty: Reasonable fear of bodily harm or extreme emotional harm.
  • Willful desertion or abandonment: One party moving out of the marital residence without the consent of the other.
  • Incarceration: A felony conviction with a sentence of at least one year. 

There are some advantages to seeking a fault-based divorce. For one thing, there is no waiting period if the divorce is sought based on adultery or felony conviction. Secondly, fault may be a factor in deciding issues such as division of marital property, spousal support, and child custody. That said, it will not be the only factor, and there may be other issues that are more important in making some of these determinations.

The downside to a fault-based divorce is that you will have to prove fault in court, which will make the case more complicated. Your spouse may fight the accusations of fault you are making, which could lead to a costly and protracted court battle. For this reason, pursuing a fault-based divorce should only be done if you have sufficient evidence to prove your claims, and if you have a seasoned divorce lawyer in your corner with the proven ability to make a strong argument on your behalf.

Contact the Straw Law Firm for Help with a Virginia Divorce

Getting a divorce in Virginia can be confusing and complicated. Before you begin the process, call the Straw Law Firm at (434) 616-2760 to go over your options and determine the best legal route for your situation. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Forest, VA office in person at your convenience.