What to do if you are in an automobile accident?

At the Scene of the Accident

  • Obtain the name, address, phone number, license plate number of all other vehicles involved in the accident.
  • Call the Police.
  • Call an ambulance, if necessary.
  • Make no statements about how the accident happened except to the police officer. Do not admit fault or responsibility, simply tell the officer the facts.
  • Obtain the names, address and phone number of all witnesses.
  • If you have a camera take pictures of your car, including the physical location of the automobiles after the impact, and any debris, skid marks or other markings on the road.

Within Twenty Four (24) hours

  • Notify your insurance carrier
  • Contact an attorney for advice


  • You must cooperate with your insurance company, and they may want you to give them a recorded statement. It may be wise to speak with an attorney before you do so.
  • Do not, however, give a recorded statement to the other drivers insurance company.

How should I pay my medical bills if I am in an automobile accident?

Be sure, if you have health insurance, to give this information to every health care provider you see for injuries sustained in an accident. You or your employer have paid a premium for this coverage, and under Virginia law, unless they are a self funded ERISA plan, they have an obligation to pay these bills. Often, even if your plan is a self-funded ERISA plan, they will pay the bills, but have a right to be repaid when you recover.

If you are on Medicare or Medicaid, they will pay these bills, even if someone else is at fault. You will have to repay the amounts they pay out of any settlement.

What must I prove to establish a personal injury claim as a result of an automobile accident?

You must prove that another person did not act reasonably and prudently under the circumstances, and that this failure was the cause of your injuries.

How long do I have to bring a personal injury claim resulting from an automobile accident?

Except in the case of an infant normally a personal injury claim based on an automobile accident in Virginia must be brought within two (2) years from the time the negligent act (i.e. accident) occurred. An infant has until the age of twenty (20), or two years after he becomes an adult.

Do I need a lawyer?

While it is possible to handle a small automobile accident claim yourself, it is still a good idea to retain an attorney who understands the relationship of health insurance, medical payment coverage and liability coverage. Also, an attorney will understand the application of uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorists coverage and possible stacking of various coverages, etc.

Additionally, there are certain factual patterns that a trained attorney will recognize which might create problems down the road. By retaining an attorney who can recognize these factual patterns, it will help insure that critical evidence is preserved, or recommend something that should be done immediately.

Because of notice requirements to insurance companies and possible removal of evidence, I recommend that you promptly consult with competent legal counsel.

I offer a free initial consultation to anyone who has been involved in an automobile accident, when they believe that they are not at fault. If you have additional questions or concerns about a personal injury lawsuit in Virginia please take time to fill our free case evaluation form. I serve clients and families throughout the state of Virginia. I stress service as an important part of our practice and provide clients with the following:

  • Clients receive free consultations and there is no legal fee unless the case is won
  • Flexible office hours
  • Hard work and individual attention

How much will it cost to bring a personal injury claim?

Generally, an attorney who handles Personal Injury Claims will handle a case on a percentage basis, which is typically in the range of 33 1/3% to 40%. When I agree to take an automobile accident personal injury claim I usually charge a contingency of 33 1/3% of any recovery or verdict, unless it is necessary to appeal the matter to the Virginia Supreme Court. Under the rules of the Virginia State Bar, a client must ultimately be responsible for any expenses incurred such as the cost of expert witnesses, court or deposition costs. An attorney under Virginia’s ethical guidelines may agree to advance these expenses on behalf of the client, so long as the client has agreed to be ultimately responsible.

How much can I recover?

The amount that you can recover is based on the nature and extent of the injury you sustained. How much were your medical bills? Do you have any permanent residual problems? Have you lost any wages? Can you return to work? Virginia law permits you to recover for any bodily injuries and their effect on your health according to their degree and probable duration; physical pain and/or mental anguish suffered by you in the past or reasonably expected in the future; any disfigurement or deformity and any associated humiliation or embarrassment; inconvenience caused in the past and probably be caused in the future; any medical expenses incurred in the past and reasonably expected to occur in the future; any lost earnings or loss of earnings and lessening of earning capacity, or either, reasonably expected in the future.