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Steps to take immediately after a car accident

A car accident is a scary and life-altering experience for anyone, one that brings alarm and high emotion. Even a minor fender bender can leave you feeling rattled.

For any type of collision, there are steps you should take in the immediate aftermath to ensure safety at the scene and to protect yourself afterward.

Knowing what to do ahead of time can help you take the right steps at the scene if you were to be involved in a crash:

Take action

  • Take a deep breath and try to stay calm. Identify and help the injured parties and assist those in need. Enlist the help of bystanders if available.
  • Call 911, even if it’s a minor crash.
  • If possible, remove the vehicles from the roadway but remain at the scene. Put your hazard lights on to warn other drivers to slow down.

Gather information

It will be important to have as much information about the crash site and situation as possible. Be sure to get the names, driver’s license information and insurance information from the other drivers.

In addition, you’ll also want to record information about the scene for later reference:

  • A description of the event, including the time that it occurred.
  • The weather conditions at the time.
  • A description of damage and injuries.
  • If possible, take photos of the accident scene to record any damage to vehicles and property, the license plates and information about the location. Having the pictures will help you to accurately remember the details later.
  • If there were witnesses to the accident, get as much information from them as possible including names and addresses and the details of what they saw.

Avoid engaging in in-depth conversation with the other drivers. Aside from checking if they’re okay, refrain from apologizing or talking about the details of the accident to avoid incriminating yourself. Let the insurance companies and lawyers figure out fault afterward from the information about the accident.

Follow up

It will likely take some time to settle the claims and details of your car accident. Keep a file of related information such as police reports, medical visit information, insurance reports and eyewitness accounts. Having this information readily available will help you to stay organized and answer questions as needed.

If someone was injured or there was significant property damage, contact an attorney for direction. Legal counsel can advise you on the best course of action moving forward and help to ensure a solid outcome.

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