Car crashes remain one of the leading causes of personal injury for Leesburg residents, and many motor vehicle accident victims end up filing a lawsuit against the negligent motorist that left them injured. The steps that you take after your accident can affect your case’s outcome, but sometimes it’s challenging to think straight after such a traumatic incident. So, it’s a good idea to learn what steps to take and what to avoid when handling your Virginia vehicle accident claim BEFORE you’re in an accident. This includes knowing the types of expenses that accident victims incur, ways to strengthen your claim, and measures that can weaken your case.
Unexpected and Hidden Costs of a Motor Vehicle Accident
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the combined economic cost for all reported injuries in 2019 came to over $4 trillion. While car accidents are only one of the leading causes of injury that contributed to that massive number, they are in the top 10.
Often, vehicle accidents result in severe injuries, which usually cost victims much more than they anticipated. Even a minor “fender-bender” can leave you with whiplash once you get the bill for repairing your car. It’s important to keep good records and receipts for every expense related to your accident. Some of these expenses include:
- Transportation to the hospital by ambulance
- Hospital or emergency room bills (including diagnostic tests such as X-rays or CT scans)
- Surgery (including the hospital’s bill AND the surgeon’s bill, which often comes separately)
- Prescription medications
- Private physician expenses
- Rehabilitation therapy
- Lost income from missing work
- PTSD counseling
Even if you’re not seriously injured, you could incur other expenses. Fees related to repairing or replacing your car include:
- Vehicle towing
- Repairs to your car (including your insurance deductible)
- Diminished value to your car due to an accident history
- Lost or damaged items inside your vehicle at the time of the accident
- Rental car fees
- Replacing a totaled car (and all associated fees with buying a new car, including the title and registration)
This is far from an exhaustive list of potential hidden costs of a car accident, and not all of the unexpected expenses will play a role in determining your financial compensation. A good rule of thumb is to keep every bill and make note of every expense following your accident, no matter how seemingly minor or unrelated it may be. Your attorney will help you sort through them to determine which are useful to your case. It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Steps to take to strengthen your claim
You can take steps after your vehicle accident to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries. You may want to do the following to ensure that this happens.
- Call your insurance provider immediately or as soon as possible.
- Have someone take photos of the accident scene and your injuries.
- Take notes on everything related to your accident, especially conversations with insurance representatives.
- Keep all of your receipts and bills related to the accident (including those mentioned above).
- Consult with an experienced lawyer to learn how to protect your interests.
These tips can help you deal with insurance companies and may strengthen your injury lawsuit if you choose to file.
Measures that can weaken your claim
While there are many steps that you may want to take following an accident, there are several things that you should never do after your vehicle crash, including:
- Sign any releases or waivers
- Provide written or recorded statements requested by insurance companies.
- Accept or cash checks that say “final payment”
- Assume that you must accept appraisals or estimates provided by insurance companies
You might jeopardize receiving the compensation that you deserved if you were to carry out any of the above-referenced actions too soon in your case.
FAQs About Virginia Car Crash Cases
What should I do immediately after a vehicle accident in Virginia?
After a vehicle accident, prioritize safety by checking for injuries and moving to a safe location if possible. Call 911 to report the accident and seek medical attention for anyone injured. Exchange information with the other parties involved and document the scene with photos if it’s safe to do so.
Do I need to speak with the other driver’s insurance company directly?
It’s generally best to avoid speaking directly with the other driver’s insurance company without legal representation. They may use your statements against you to minimize their liability.
Is it necessary to hire a lawyer for my car crash claim?
While it’s not mandatory, consulting with a skilled personal injury lawyer can be beneficial. They can navigate the complex legal process, protect your rights, and advocate for fair compensation.
How long do I have to file a vehicle accident claim in Virginia?
In Virginia, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including vehicle accidents, is generally two years from the date of the accident. Failing to file within this timeframe may result in losing the right to seek compensation.
How can a lawyer help me with my car crash claim?
A skilled attorney can guide you through the claims process, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, build a strong case, and pursue fair compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering.
What factors can impact the outcome of my accident claim?
Several factors can influence the claim’s outcome, such as the severity of injuries, the strength of evidence, the credibility of witnesses, and the legal representation you have.
Guidance in handling your auto accident case
Many Leesburg car crash victims find themselves inundated with calls from insurance companies and others in the days and weeks following an accident. You may find it challenging to know who it’s safe to speak to or what you should say to them. A good personal injury attorney in Virginia can provide guidance in this respect.