Before An Accident
Make sure your car is safe and can pass the Virginia State Inspection at all times. Keep your vehicle registration card, state inspection receipt, insurance card, and a list of emergency contacts stapled together in your glove box. If you are injured and cannot communicate with emergency responders, police will check the glove box for information so they can notify your family or friends.
If Your Car Is Wrecked
In Virginia, the law allows you to use the body shop of your choice. No one (including an insurance company) can require your car to be fixed at a certain shop. If your car cannot be safely driven after an accident, call the tow company of your choice to take it to the shop of your choice. In some areas the police will not allow you a choice of tow services. Unless your car has been impounded, the tow company has no legal right to force you to take your car to its storage lot or shop. Most honest tow companies can collect their fees directly from legitimate body shops. If you pay for the tow service, make sure you receive a fully detailed receipt for the services rendered. A few tow companies add enormous extra fees to any car they take to their lot. If your car goes to the tow company’s storage lot, you should notify the insurance company immediately so it can take steps to reduce storage and other fees.
Equipping Your Car For Accidents
You should have at least three highway flares and a flashlight. Flares should be replaced about every four or five years. Make sure you know how to operate your vehicle’s 4-way flashers.
After An Accident
Virginia and most other states require you to park your vehicle as close to the scene as you can without creating a traffic hazard. Leaving your car in traffic can cause additional accidents.
Police should always be called so there is an official record of the accident. In some areas of the country, police will not respond to auto accidents. If an officer is sent, he or she will record the number of people involved in the incident and their identities so that others don’t later claim they were in the crash and injured. Exchanging names rather than calling police can result in another driver giving you false information. It is common for uninsured or unlicensed people to try to keep the police away. If another party is persistent about not calling police, there is probably a good reason why they do not want to talk to an officer and this should make it even more important for you to summon the police. Take pictures of the vehicles involved from all sides so there is documentation of the scene and the damage.