What To Do After A West Virginia Auto Accident
Almost 46,000 people die in car crashes each year in the US, and in West Virginia, almost one percent of the total car and truck accidents resulted in deaths in 2021. In other words, in every 130 crashes, one person died. Also, more than 50% of West Virginia auto accidents result in injuries, with six percent resulting in serious injuries.
Worse yet, statistically speaking, almost every West Virginian will be involved in at least one auto accident in their lifetime. We hope the information below keeps you safe and prepared.
5 Steps to Follow After a West Virginia Auto Accident
Here’s what to know if you are involved in an automobile accident in West Virginia. These tips can help protect yourself or others involved in the accident, and they may also protect your legal rights.
1. Pull over near the site of the accident and contact law enforcement:
West Virginia Code mandates that the driver stop as close to the crash scene as possible. Do not impede oncoming traffic or obstruct it if there is no damage to the car and no one is seriously injured.
Under Section 6 of Article 4 of Chapter 17, West Virginia Code, you are also required to notify the police department at your earliest convenience if you are involved in an auto accident and the property damage is more than $1,000.00 or there is physical injury. Providing the police with the following information can be useful when he or she fills out the West Virginia Crash Report:
A brief account of the injuries you and others involved in the accident have incurred.
The location of the accident as accurately as possible; for example, the name of the highway you are on, any recognizable places or intersections nearby, the direction you were traveling, etc.
Any dangers related to the site of the accident, such as fuel spillage, fallen trees/electric poles, or vehicles on fire. This will allow emergency service providers to dispatch additional services, e.g., fire trucks or electricity maintenance crews.
Once paramedics arrive, let them assess you, even if you are not in pain. You may have an internal injury but may not be experiencing pain due to shock. Allow medical personnel to complete their examination and accompany them to the hospital if they recommend it.
Delaying medical treatment or denying that you’re injured at the accident scene can hurt your car accident claim if you realize later that you were injured. Adrenaline from the crash masked your injuries.
However, if you have only suffered minor injuries while the other party has received severe wounds, instead of just waiting for help to arrive, you should provide “reasonable assistance” to those in need. This timely assistance may prove lifesaving.
Similarly, if you hit a parked or unattended car, do not leave the scene. The driver is obligated under the law to “locate and notify” the owner of the parked car and brief him about the accident. The driver must also provide his details to the owner of the vehicle. Nevertheless, if you cannot find the owner of the damaged car nearby, you should leave a note on the vehicle, briefly explaining what caused the accident and how to get back to you.
Damage to Immoveable Property
If the accident involves damage to immovable property on the highway, you should first try to locate the owner and provide him with the information that could help him identify and reach you. This includes your name, address, contact number, vehicle registration information, make and model, etc. If you fail to stop and notify the owner, you may be guilty of a misdemeanor.
2. Provide your details to the other driver
Under West Virginia Code, you must provide details to the police to furnish information to others involved in the accident.
Article 4(3) of Chapter 17C requires drivers to provide the following details to the driver or occupants of the other vehicle involved in the crash:
Personal details and vehicle information.
Insurance coverage—insured’s name, the driver’s insurance policy number, and the insurance company’s name and contact information.
Once you provide this information to the investigating officer on the scene, you have fulfilled your responsibility as required under this section. It then becomes the police officer’s duty to share that information with other parties.
3. Try to gather as much evidence as you can
You should consider potential legal consequences if the crash does not involve serious injuries. Therefore, collecting evidence from the site will help you in case you have a legal claim and will also be crucial for your auto accident insurance claim. If someone is seriously injured, that person’s life and safety must come first, however.
Gather information as follows:
Jot Down Details of the Involved Vehicle(s)
Note the car’s make and model and its license plate number. You should ask the driver for the car registration and write down any other details.
Collect Information From Passengers, Driver(s), And Witnesses
Ask the driver and the passengers for their names and contact information. Although passengers are not obligated to share these details, the information, if provided, may help
your personal injury claim.
Furthermore, you may want to speak to witnesses to document any relevant information. Write down the witnesses’ names and contact information.
Take Pictures/Videos of the Site
If you have a smartphone, take photos and/or videos of the accident scene, including vehicles and detailed views of the surrounding area. Try to incorporate different angles to capture information relevant to the accident.
Consider recording yourself talking with the passengers or the driver to capture details that may be useful.
4. Contact your insurance company; Don’t Talk with The other driver’s insurance company
Most insurance policies require customers to contact their companies whenever they are in an accident. Under the insurance contract, you are required to notify your insurance company and fully cooperate as needed.
Remember, even if it wasn’t your fault, or if the other driver tells you everything is fine, you still need to notify your insurance company. Sometimes, the other driver or passengers will have a change of heart and file claims of damages with your insurance company.
That said, don’t speak with the other driver’s insurance company before speaking with your own insurance company and ideally getting a free consultation from an experienced West Virginia car accident lawyer. Speaking with the other driver’s auto insurance company could hurt your case, and they will likely ask you for a recorded statement. That could hurt your case even more.
If you were injured at work, you will need to notify your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier.
You have no duty to speak with the other driver’s insurance company, and doing so could hurt your case!
5. Get a Free Consultation from a Top-Rated West Virginia Auto Accident Lawyer
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can I file a claim with the insurance companies myself?
Yes, you can. If you are involved in an accident, you can file a claim with both of the insurance companies, theirs and yours. However, you may not always receive the compensation you deserve. After all, claims adjusters protect the best interests of insurance companies, especially when it involves thousands of dollars. Therefore, an attorney with experience dealing with insurance companies may best represent you and your legal rights.
For a free and confidential consultation, call a top-rated West Virginia car accident lawyer at West Law Firm today.
What is the limitation period in West Virginia for filing injury or property damage claims?
Under Chapter 55 of the West Virginia Code, the limitation period for both personal injury and property damage claims is two years. This means you can start a claim with the insurance company or file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the crash. However, you may not want to wait to file the claim/lawsuit at the last minute, as in most cases, the evidence, if any, deteriorates or becomes unavailable over time.
Free Consultation With a Top-Rated WV Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident, we encourage you to call one of our top-rated accident lawyers for a free and confidential consultation. There’s No Fee unless and until you recover compensation.The personal injury lawyers at West
Brooks West is a personal injury lawyer, founder, and President of West Law Firm. He has been helping those wrongfully injured in West Virginia for almost two decades. The results and service he provides his clients have earned him membership in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell. Brooks is most proud of the many 5-star reviews he has received from satisfied clients.