As the largest city in North-Central West Virginia, Morgantown records a significant number of traffic accidents each year.
If you spend a lot of time on the roads in Morgantown — or if you have recently been involved in a Morgantown auto accident — it’s important that you understand the process for pursuing an accident claim in Monongalia County.
The steps you take after a car accident in Morgantown can make all the difference in the outcome of your claim. Knowing the appropriate procedure beforehand will also help you maintain composure and stay safe should you ever find yourself in a collision.
Step 1: Stay Calm and Get to Safety
People almost never see a car crash coming. It happens so fast that you almost instantly enter a state of confusion and alarm. Your brain triggers a flood of adrenaline, and it’s very easy to become overwhelmed. The temptation to panic is strong.
Hard as it may be, try to keep calm. A clear head will help you make wise decisions in the minutes ahead.
The worst-case scenario is someone staying in a dangerous situation and suffering further injury or death because they did not have the presence of mind to seek safety. In a very real sense, the mere act of calming yourself could save your life.
If it is possible and safe to do so, move your vehicle out of traffic’s way. If you can’t move the car, try to get yourself away from oncoming traffic. Too many people are struck by oncoming cars while waiting for police officers to arrive at the scene of a crash.
Step 2: Call the Police
After any Morgantown auto accident, you will be legally required to contact law enforcement and notify them of the accident.
Once you have done so, stay put until an officer arrives and then follow their instructions.
Leaving the scene of an accident in Morgantown could land you in hot water and may constitute a “hit and run,” which is a criminal offense in West Virginia.
Step 3: Gather Evidence at the Scene
There is no better opportunity for gathering persuasive evidence about your accident than the scene of the crash itself. If you can safely do so, try to collect the following:
- Insurance information for each driver
- Names & contact information for every driver and passenger
- Names & contact information for any witnesses
- Photographs of the accident scene, vehicle damage, physical injuries, and street conditions (from a variety of distances and angles — the more photos the better)
- A written memo or journal about what just happened and how it happened
- The name of the responding police officer(s)
- A copy of the West Virginia police report or a corresponding reference number
Step 4: Avoid Saying the Wrong Things
While this article is focused on proactive steps to take after a car accident in Morgantown, the things you don’t do may be just as important.
The statements you make during and after a Morgantown auto accident could later be used against you. Even simple statements like, “I’m so sorry!” or “I should have paid more attention!” or “Don’t worry, it wasn’t your fault!” can come back to bite you.
This is true whether you are talking to a police officer, another driver, a passenger, a paramedic, a witness, or an insurance adjustor (more on that below).
Never lie to a law enforcement officer, emergency responder, or insurance representative. And emergency medical care is always the most important consideration. But as a general rule, the less you say, the better.
Step 5: Notify Your Insurance Provider
Your auto insurance policy likely requires you to give your auto insurance provider timely notice of any accident. Do so promptly, but here again, be careful about what you say.
In most cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will be responsible for covering your damages. But in some situations, you might have a claim against your own insurance provider. Alternatively, the at-fault driver might have the same insurance company as you.
Avoid making any admissions of fault or statements that might be construed as accepting blame for the accident.
Step 6: Contact a Morgantown Car Accident Lawyer
The law on car accident liability in West Virginia is complex, and the claims process can be difficult to navigate on your own.
An experienced Morgantown car accident lawyer can help you protect your interests, avoid common pitfalls, and fight for full and fair financial compensation.
We encourage Morgantown, WV residents to store our local number in their cell phones for emergency access after a car accident: 304-599-4229. Our attorneys are standing by to assist you.
Schedule a Cost-Free, No-Obligation Legal Consultation Today
The Morgantown car accident lawyers at Colombo Law have years of experience in West Virginia auto accident representation. We are proud to have a 98% success rate in personal injury claims.
In the majority of our cases, we have been able to negotiate favorable settlements without going to trial, getting our clients more money than the insurer was willing to offer before we got involved.
We fight to maximize compensation. Let us fight for you. Colombo Law proudly serves accident victims across the whole state of West Virginia, not only in Morgantown but also in Bridgeport, Buckhannon, Clarksburg, Elkins, Fairmont, Parkersburg, and Weston.
Here is our promise to you:
- A free case evaluation with absolutely no obligation to hire us
- Honest guidance and advice
- No attorney fees unless and until we recover damages for you
- Our time, passion, respect, and attention to your needs
A strict legal time limit (i.e. statute of limitation) applies to most West Virginia personal injury claims, so please don’t delay. Contact Colombo Law and schedule a free case review right away. Just dial 304-599-4229 (888-860-1414 outside of Morgantown) or contact us online.