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Winter weather can alter local car accident policy

Following a car accident, most drivers understand they need to exchange insurance information with the other party. Of course, if there are injuries or even fatalities, seeking help and cooperating with rescue personnel is the first priority. In car accidents where injuries are not severe or life-threatening, it is still generally helpful to notify police so that an official police report of the accident can be prepared.

In some situations, though, the police may not be able to arrive on the scene of an auto accident. This happened earlier this month in Northern Virginia when winter weather pounded the region. On January 6, snow fell across the area and by 7:00 a.m. police had already gone to the scenes of 21 wrecks throughout Northern Virginia. Many of these were on I-495. Less than two hours later, police in Fairfax County initiated a policy which is sometimes implemented in times of severe weather.

The police department's "Accident Policy" encourages drivers to exchange insurance information with the other party as usual when an accident does not involve injuries. Police will still respond to accidents involving death, injury or hit-and-run situations, but simple fender-benders are pushed to the bottom of their priority list when the policy is in effect.

While most drivers understand the reasons why the policy is put into place, it can be difficult to gauge if an accident has caused injury or not. Some injuries may not surface until after an accident; it's not uncommon for accident victims to feel fine immediately after a wreck but later experience aches, pains and other symptoms. If any symptoms appear it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. It may also be a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney to determine if compensation is available.

Source: FairFaxTimes.com, "Snow causes headaches for Fairfax County commuters," Gregg MacDonald, Jan. 6, 2015

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