In the initial shock after a car accident, you are likely to be dazed, frightened and unsure of what to do next. But whether you’ve been in a major collision or a fender-bender, there are certain steps you should take right away to ensure that everyone involved gets the help they need as quickly as possible. These are some of the most important steps to take in the aftermath of a car crash on a West Virginia road:

  1. Move to safety — When it’s at all possible and safe to do so, pull out of traffic onto a shoulder so that other cars don’t become involved in the collision, and turn off your ignition to reduce risk of fire. If you can, use flares or flashers to warn of oncoming traffic.
  2. Call 911 — Whether or not anyone appears injured, it’s important to call 911 immediately. If anyone is injured and you can provide basic first aid, do so but also ask for an ambulance. In any case, you want the police to respond so that a record of the accident is made. Police should also be on the scene to handle any unsafe conditions, such as a lane obstruction, debris on the road, or downed traffic signs or guardrails.
  3. Exchange information — Even if the other driver states that they won’t file an accident report, it is crucial to exchange insurance information and contact details. This information will be invaluable if you need to file an insurance claim to pay for car repairs or medical bills.
  4. Document the scene — In addition to taking down the other driver’s license plate number and the make and model of their car, take pictures of the scene and of any damage that occurred when it’s safe to do so. If there were witnesses, it is wise to record their names and contact information so that their statements will be available should they become necessary.
  5. File a police report — Insurance companies and courts use police reports as objective evidence when determining each driver’s level of fault. West Virginia’s use of the modified comparative negligence standard means that the amount of compensation paid depends on each party’s percentage of fault.
  6. Notify your insurance company — Contact your insurance company after any accident, even if you believe the other driver’s insurance will pay your bills. Your insurer may provide a rental car and cover other costs between the accident and the final decision about each party’s liability for the accident.

After the road is cleared and you have received any necessary medical treatment, it is also a good idea to contact an auto accident attorney. An experienced legal advocate can examine the details of your case and advise you on the full amount of compensation you should seek for medical bills, lost income, repair costs, pain and suffering, and other relevant expenses. Accident victims who accept a quick settlement from an insurance company without first speaking to a lawyer may find themselves regretting their decision later on. If you are involved in a West Virginia auto accident, the attorneys at Calwell Luce diTrapano PLLC in Charleston can provide reliable legal representation. Call us at 800-876-5529 or contact us online to arrange your initial consultation.