A collision in West Virginia must be reported to law enforcement. Drivers have to stop at the scene of a crash, render aid, and take appropriate post-collision steps. Leaving the scene of a collision where someone has sustained injury is a misdemeanor crime and can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year of imprisonment. A driver who leaves the scene of a West Virginia car accident that causes a fatality can be charged with a felony, lose of his driver's license for a year, be fined up to $5,000, and be jailed for between one and five years.
Although most drivers are aware of the need to file a report after an accident, it can be confusing to know exactly what steps you need to take. Understanding how to report your West Virginia car accident can protect you in the event of a serious or fatal crash.
What to do after your car accident
If an accident causes an injury or someone was killed in the collision, contact 911 immediately at the crash scene so that a first responder can come and render aid. If the collision was not as serious and no one was badly hurt, you still have to report the accident if $500 or more in property damage occurred in the crash.
If the accident happened within a municipality in West Virginia, the collision should be reported to local police. If the collision happens outside of a municipality, you should report it to the county sheriff's office or to the West Virginia State Police.
When you report your accident to the police and a law enforcement officer comes to the scene, a report will be prepared describing details of the car accident. You may need to obtain this report later to use as evidence in a personal injury claim in order to show a defendant was responsible. Your auto accident lawyer can help you obtain a copy of a West Virginia crash report.
It is important for collision victims to also report their car accidents to their own insurance companies after the crash has occurred. Reporting all accidents to the insurer is essential because you may not immediately know how serious the crash is or the full extent of damage that the accident has caused you. Injuries can often be very costly to treat after a crash, and damage to a vehicle could significantly lower its value or render it unusable. Missed work results in missed income. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine the true cost of a collision.
If you believe the other driver was 100 percent responsible for the accident, you still need to report it to your own insurance company. You may need your insurer to step in to help you get compensation or even to pay for damages if you are somehow found to be responsible or if the other driver had insufficient insurance to cover your losses.