After a Car Accident: What to Do

Every year, millions of people are involved in car accidents. More than 2 million were injured in these collisions in 2009 alone, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Whether you have been injured or the accident involves property damage alone, you may wonder what to do immediately after the accident. We have included some basic steps to take. Of course, every case is different; these are meant to act as a guideline only.
  • Stay at the scene. Unless you are seriously injured and are taken away from the scene of the accident in an ambulance, it is important to remain at the scene. You will need to exchange contact and insurance information with the other party or parties that have been involved in the collision.
  • Report the accident. Particularly if someone was injured or the collision occurred in a high-traffic area, it will be important to call 911 to report the accident. When law enforcement arrives at the scene, give information as needed, but be careful that you do not apologize for the accident or say anything that may make it seem as though you were at fault.
  • Document the accident. If possible, take photographs at the scene. Even photos taken with a camera phone may prove valuable later in your insurance claim. Take notes as well. It will be helpful to note down the make, model and license plate numbers of the vehicles involved, as well as everything that you can remember about the accident itself. As time passes, you may find that you are unable to remember as many details as you can when the incident is fresh in your mind.
  • Seek medical attention. You may not feel that you are seriously injured, but it is important to visit your doctor as soon as possible after the accident. You may have suffered neck, back or head injuries that may not be immediately painful but that may cause a great deal of difficulty for you in a few hours, days or even weeks. Tell your doctor that you were involved in a car accident so he or she knows what types of injuries to look for.
  • Contact your insurance company. Report the incident to your insurance provider, providing as much information as possible.
  • Refrain from discussing the accident with the other party's insurance company. If an insurance adjuster from the other driver's insurance company contacts you, do not make a statement or answer their questions. They are likely only seeking information that will make it seem as though the accident was your fault, and this may affect your ability to recover maximum compensation.
  • Contact an attorney. It is particularly important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after a collision. While you are injured and shaken up by the collision, you may find it difficult to deal with an insurance claim. You may be unsure of your specific rights and options. A skilled lawyer can step in and protect your rights while seeking fair financial compensation on your behalf – all while you focus on healing and spending time with your friends and family.
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