How long do I have to report a car accident?

Car Accident Victim on the Phone With the Police DepartmentIt is always a good idea to contact the police at the scene of a car accident and obtain a copy of the police report to protect your legal right to compensation for your injuries. In addition, in some cases, you are required to report the crash under Virginia law.

When Are You Required to Report an Auto Collision in Virginia?

You are required to report most car crashes to law enforcement within 24 hours or as soon as possible if you are too injured to report it right away. When you report the collision, you must provide the officer with your name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number. You are required to contact the police under these circumstances:

  • An individual is injured or killed.
  • The vehicle or other property is damaged.

In addition, individuals involved in an auto accident have the following duties under Virginia law:

  • Stop as close to the collision scene as possible without obstructing traffic
  • Provide reasonable assistance to any individuals injured in the crash

If the driver fails to notify the police of an accident, any passenger in the vehicle who is over 16 years old has a duty to report it to law enforcement within 24 hours.

Violation of this law can result in felony charges if a victim is injured or killed or the property damage is over $1,000. It would be a misdemeanor offense if there were no injuries or death and the property damage is less than $1,000.

Why You Should Always Contact the Police at the Accident Scene

Even if your vehicle suffered little damage and you believe that you suffered no injuries, you should call the police at the accident scene. The damage to your vehicle could be more extensive and expensive to fix than you thought. In addition, the symptoms of some serious injuries, like traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, and internal organ damage, can take days or longer to develop.

If you do not report your accident, you lose important evidence that can help you prove the other driver’s negligence and responsibility to compensate you for injuries. The officer at the scene would investigate the crash and provide information, such as how the collision occurred, who was at fault, contact information for witnesses, and any traffic citations issued, in their police report.

Providing a copy of the police report to the at-fault motorist’s insurance company can help you convince them of their liability to compensate you for your injuries. In addition, it can help avoid disputes about whether the accident occurred and whether it caused your injuries.

If you need to file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company for your injuries in an auto collision in the Virginia Beach or Norfolk area, our experienced car accident legal team is here to assist you. Call our office to schedule your free consultation today to learn more about your options.