Norfolk Car Accident Lawyers
The third most populated city in Virginia with over 238,000 people, Norfolk is one of the oldest cities in America, neighboring Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. Surrounded by many bodies of water and a beautifully historic urban area, Norfolk is one of the country’s most beloved cities, and is also home to the world’s largest naval base, Naval Station Norfolk.
Norfolk is a heavily populated area with a ton of tourist charm. Combined with major highways and roads like I-264 and I-64 and all of its’ residents, the chances of getting into a car accident in Norfolk are high. And getting into a car accident can be a stressful experience. Fortunately, you do have legal options in the Norfolk area.
What Do I Do if I Get into an Accident in Norfolk?
Because the events after a car accident can get chaotic, it is best to know what to do should one occur to make things a bit easier. It is important to remember that the moments after a car accident are critical toward recovering any compensation should you have to file a claim, as well as recovering from any injury that may have occurred.
- Check on everyone: Check on everyone involved if you are able, including your own passengers and those in the other car. Make sure everyone is okay before calling 911. If the accident is minor, you can move your car to the shoulder, but if there was significant damage or injury it is best to leave it there.
- Call 911: Notify 911 of the accident as soon as you can; be sure they know the location of the accident and if there are any injuries. Calling 911 will bring medical personnel to the scene if needed, and the police will arrive as well. Do not leave the scene and wait for help to arrive.
- Collect evidence: Take photos or video of the scene and include how the conditions were at the time of the accident, like how the weather was or if the accident occurred in rush hour. Be sure to take photos of the damage to your car and the other car, as well as any debris that may be on the road.
- Talk to the police: The police will arrive and will write a report detailing what may have occurred in the accident and their own description of the events. They will want to speak with those involved in the accident and with any witnesses and get everyone’s statements. It is important to not to admit fault to the police or anyone else, regardless of how the accident played out. But you do want to be as honest as possible, as any inconsistency can be used against you in an insurance claim or if there were a lawsuit. Stay at the scene while the police is there and wait for them to dismiss you.
- Take notes: If the accident was a minor fender bender, or if the police do not come to the scene, then it is your responsibility to take notes of what happened. Write down what happened and describe the scene as accurately as possible.
- Get information: Be sure to get the other driver’s contact and insurance information, as well as their driver’s license information. Remember, you do not want to admit to anything, so just gather the other driver’s information and make sure they are okay, and let the police handle the rest.
- Get medical help: It is important to seek medical help after a car accident, even if you do not believe you are injured. Many injuries, particularly soft-tissue injuries, manifest themselves hours or days after the accident because of the adrenaline and shock masks them. This helps if you plan on filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit; if you wait too long to get help for an injury, some may question how severe the injury could actually be.
Contact a car accident lawyer: Because of the complexities of a car crash, it is recommended to seek the legal guidance of a car accident lawyer as soon as you can. A lawyer can help protect your rights, conduct their own investigation into the accident, and help you avoid mistakes that could ruin your case. Accident lawyers can also help negotiate with insurance companies for better compensation as well as file a lawsuit should your insurance settlement not come out in your favor.
Insurance Requirements in Virginia
In Virginia, you are not required to carry liability insurance as long as you pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee of $500. With this, you are legally allowed to drive without insurance. This may seem like a good idea, but if you get into a car accident, then you would be on the hook for the damage you caused, which can be incredibly expensive.
Liability insurance will cover you for property damage, medical bills, and other costs should you cause an accident in Virginia. If you have no insurance at all and cause an accident, as well as not paying the uninsured motor vehicle fee, you are likely to have your license and vehicle registration suspended. Additionally, you will have to pay a $500 to reinstate your license, as well as provide a proof of insurance form for the three years.
Liability insurance in Virginia can cover different amounts of a car accident:
- $20,000 liability coverage for property damage per accident if caused by the owner of the insured vehicle.
- $25,000 liability coverage for injury or death of one person caused if caused by the owner of the insured vehicle.
- $50,000 liability coverage for total bodily injury or death in an accident caused by the owner of the insured vehicle.
Of course, you are able to carry additional insurance coverage if you wish, which will further cover you should you cause an accident or injury.
Virginia and At-Fault Accident Claims
Virginia is known as an “at-fault” insurance state, which means that damage and injuries are the responsibility of the person who caused the accident. The driver who is “at-fault” would use their own insurance company to cover any damages or injuries that they have caused. Financial rewards are limited to that driver’s individual policy.
When in an accident, you have three options to file an insurance claim and to seek compensation for your damages:
- You can file a claim directly to the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
- You can also file a claim with your own insurance company if the damage that was caused is covered by your policy. Should this happen, your insurance company will file a subrogation claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. A subrogation claim is an attempt to recover funds from the at-fault party.
- Furthermore, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This likely requires the help of a car accident lawyer.
When you file a claim, you are entitled to collecting on economic and noneconomic losses you have because of the accident. Including:
- Medical bills: Including treatments, tests, doctor visits, and physical and occupational therapy appointments. Be sure to keep all medical records regarding the accident, including doctor notes and summaries of your visits.
- Lost wages: Because of the injury sustained from the accident, there is a good chance that the accident victim would lose wages and time at their work. In an accident claim, you are able to recover these damages and be compensated.
- Pain and suffering: Normally based on the severity of the injury, pain and suffering compensation is a non-economic expense and is compensated to make up for an injury. Pain and suffering involved, not just physical pain, but emotional and mental pain such as fear, anxiety, and even the loss of enjoyment of life.
- Punitive damages: Punitive damages in a car accident claim is used to mainly punish the at-fault driver. They are meant to hopefully prevent the driver from causing a similar accident in the future, such collecting punitive damages from a drunk driver.
It is important to note that when filing a car accident claim against the at-fault driver, that the statute of limitations in Virginia is two years. This means that you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. That is why it is imperative to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as a car accident happens so that they can get your case started right away.