You've been in an accident in Northern Virginia. You were not at-fault, meaning that you did not cause the collision in any way, but the person who caused the accident is lying. If the insurance companies believe the other driver's version of events, your car accident claim will likely be denied. The only way to prevent this is to document the scene of the accident, gather witness reports, and avoid confronting the driver directly.
First, let us explain why being "at fault" is critical in Virginia car accident cases. Virginia is a pure contributory negligence state. Only four states and the District of Columbia have pure contributory negligence rules, so getting in an accident in Virginia can have very different consequences than it does in most other states.
What pure contributory negligence means is that if you are found at fault for an accident, even only partially at fault, you will be barred from recovering any damages to your vehicle or injuries to yourself.
If the driver who caused the accident is lying, making it seem like you caused the accident, then your car accident claim is in trouble. If the insurance companies believe their version of the events, you won't be able to claim any damages.
What can you do if the other driver is lying? Here is a four-step process to protect yourself in the event the driver lies or changes their story.
1) Be Calm and Avoid Avoid Arguments
Avoiding confrontation with the other driver sounds like a no brainer, but you really don't want to engage a driver who is being argumentative. If they have their heart set on lying, you won't change their mind at the scene. Additionally, you may say something you regret if you engage in an argument and what you say at the scene can hurt your claim.
2) Call the Police and Contact an Ambulance (If You Need Medical Help)
Don't let the other driver stop you from doing what you should do in this situation. Call the police to the scene, call an ambulance, and wait for them to arrive. The police will take statements from all the people involved, so there is no need to engage the other driver.
3) Take Pictures of the Scene and Get the Information of Witnesses
Pictures are a significant help to a car accident claim if you are in a condition to take them. If not, contact a close friend or family member to come right away and help you. Those photographs can be used to prove your side of the story and they can help clear up any confusion between your insurance company and the other driver's insurance company.
Additionally, you should see if there are any witnesses to the accident. Hopefully, the police will take their statements, but it can help if you get their information, as well, in case it is needed. Write down their name and phone number, and ask if they would mind speaking to your insurance company.
4) Stick to Your Story
You will be telling your story to the police, your insurance company, and the other driver's insurance company. Make sure your story is truthful and consistent and don't let the other driver's account alter your version of events. Remaining consistent is important because the insurance company will see any change in your story as an indication of lying.
This process can help you if the other driver isn't being truthful, but it does not guarantee that you will get the outcome you desire. If the police report shows that you are partially at fault for the accident, you will have a hard time convincing the insurance company. If the insurance company is siding with the other driver, you should contact a personal injury attorney in Virginia to help defend you.Keep in mind; your insurance company should fight for your side of the story. They have a vested interest in finding you not responsible for the accident, and they should question the other driver thoroughly. Police reports are difficult to dispute, but the insurance company can disregard the police report if they have a good reason to believe you are telling the truth.