What Should Drivers Do After Motor Vehicle Accidents?

Knowing what to do immediately following an auto accident in West Virginia may be essential to helping drivers protect themselves and their rights.

Summer months mean traveling for a lot of people in West Virginia. When the weather is nice, it leads to more vehicles on the road. Even if they follow the traffic laws to the letter, drive defensively and take other precautions, motorists may still, at some point, be involved in auto accidents. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 358 drivers across the state were involved in fatal wrecks in 2016 alone, and many more were involved in motor vehicle collisions that resulted in serious injuries or property damage. Getting into a motor vehicle accident can be a harrowing experience after which people may find themselves stunned and unsure how to proceed. Knowing what steps to take immediately following a collision may help them protect themselves and their rights.

Stay at the scene

After a motor vehicle accident, state law requires that drivers immediately stop their vehicles and remain at the scene. Sometimes, however, doing so may put them in further danger and create a hazard for other motorists. In such cases, people are permitted to move their vehicles out of traffic to an area nearby and return to the scene to complete their obligations. Failing to stay at or return to the scene could be considered a misdemeanor or felony-level offense and carry penalties ranging from fines to a driver's license suspension or jail time.

Exchange information

Drivers who are involved in auto accidents have a duty under state law to exchange information with one another. This includes providing their names, valid telephone numbers, the pertinent details for the vehicles involved and their insurance information. It is also a good idea for people to obtain the contact information for any witnesses to the collision, as well as the passengers in both vehicles. Such details may be helpful in the event either side chooses to take legal action.

Document the scene

When law enforcement is called out to car collision scenes, they often take a report, which includes getting statements from those involved and documenting where the accident occurred. It is advisable for motorists to obtain a copy of these reports for their own records; however, it is also suggested that they document the scene for themselves. This includes photographing the area where the wreck occurred, the vehicles involved and any visible injuries.

Seeking legal guidance

When people in West Virginia are involved in auto accidents, they may suffer serious injuries that require time off work to recover, as well as extensive medical treatment. Consequently, they may face challenges such as lost wages and mounting medical bills, in addition to their physical and emotional pain and suffering. Under some circumstances, though, the responsible drivers may be held financially liable for these and other resulting damages. Therefore, those who have suffered injuries as a result of motor vehicle collisions may benefit from discussing their rights and options for pursuing compensation with our attorneys.