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Posted in Car accident on April 1, 2019
The moments after a car accident in West Virginia can be confusing, stressful, and even full of panic. You likely just experienced a physically jarring experience that caused damage to one of the most valuable possessions you own. It can be difficult to determine what actions you should take after a minor car accident.
Minor car accidents usually involve no injuries, or very limited ones, to the drivers involved. Damages can still occur to one or all vehicles involved but typically remain minor. Do you need to report minor car accidents to the authorities? Should you file a report with your insurance company? What actions should you take?
Immediately after a minor car accident, there are several steps you should take.
Although the time after a car accident is stressful, do your best to remain calm, particularly when interacting with law enforcement and the other driver.
Assess yourself and any passengers for injuries. If any exist, you may need to request emergency medical attention.
If your vehicle is emitting smoke, flames, or sparks, it is important to move a safe distance from the vehicle.
If the accident occurred in the main lanes of traffic, move off to the side in order to prevent further accidents and avoid endangering yourself.
Determine whether you should contact local law enforcement, dependent on the injuries or damages present.
Approach the other drivers involved and exchange contact and insurance information. If the other driver refuses, you may need law enforcement to intervene. In the event of a hit and run, record any identifying information about the driver or the vehicle.
Until the authorities clear you to leave, you must remain on the scene of the accident. If possible, utilize the time to take photographs and record the scene in case disputes arise regarding fault.
If necessary, contact your insurance company to inform an adjuster about your accident. This step could make the claims process proceed more smoothly. You do not need to admit or assign fault at this time.
The determination of whether you need to report minor car accidents to law enforcement hinges on the injuries and property damages caused. Some states require drivers to report any injury-causing accident to the police, usually by dialing 911 from the scene. West Virginia requires drivers to report any accident causing either injury or death to a driver, passenger or pedestrian.
If no party suffers injuries, you must determine whether the property damages incurred are sufficient to trigger notification of law enforcement. Thresholds for reporting differ by state as well as by entity. In West Virginia, drivers must report all motor vehicle accidents resulting in combined property damages of $1,000 or more to local law enforcement. Both drivers must report an accident resulting in combined property damages of $500 or more to the DMV.
Property damages to motor vehicles add up quickly. Those which may appear to be a minimal amount of damage can be more costly than you may expect to repair. In addition, consider the fact that you must report combined damage costs from all vehicles involved. In most cases, it is best to contact the authorities, whose presence can help you ensure you acquire a record of the accident in the event the other party refuses to accept responsibility later.
Nearly all insurance companies require that you report all accidents, regardless of severity and property damage. If you do not report the accident, only to discover later that your property damage is more significant than originally thought, your insurance company could deny you coverage. Denial of certain types of coverage will cost more money down the road.
To learn more about minor car accidents in West Virginia, including your legal rights, contact a West Virginia car accident lawyer at Manchin Injury Law Group. Our attorneys are here to help and offer free initial consultations. Contact us today!