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Being involved in a car accident can be a distressing experience for anyone. Between the shock of the impact, the possible injuries, and the chaos of an accident scene, it is unsurprisingly difficult to think straight. However, there are a number of first steps that every driver should take after an accident to make things simpler when it comes to insurance and the legalities related to the crash.
The most important thing to do immediately after an accident is to make sure that everyone is okay. You should be careful not to move anyone who is in considerable pain or unconscious, and should ring for an ambulance. It is also important to remember that you might be injured yourself, so you might need to limit how much you move around before medical help arrives.
Even if you feel okay, you should still consider visiting a physician soon after an accident happens. They will be able to advise if you are suffering injuries you are not immediately aware of yourself.
It is also crucial that you do not leave the accident scene before exchanging information and establishing if anyone is hurt. If the police are called, you must wait until they arrive. This is particularly important where the accident is particularly severe, as there are serious consequences for people involved in hit and run accidents.
If an accident is very serious – involving serious injuries or property damage – or if there is significant dispute over who was at fault for an accident, you should always call the police. They will produce a police report which will include both parties’ stories on what happened, as well as the officer’s assessment of the accident scene. A police report can be very important for insurance and legal purposes.
It is important to exchange details with the other party involved in the accident. You should get their contact details, license plate number, drivers’ license information, and their insurance information. All of these details will be essential when you are handling insurance claims later on.
You should also make notes on the accident itself – making a record of your version of events, the road and weather conditions, anything that the other party or witnesses say, and noting any other details that you think are relevant to the accident. If you have access to a camera, clear images showing the accident scene, damage to each car and other property, and the general road conditions could also be useful.
It is important to avoid saying too much about the accident while you are at the scene. Any suggestion of guilt – for example, an apology – could be used later as evidence of who was at fault for the accident. You should also be cautious when talking to the other driver’s insurance company after the accident. While it is certainly important to be honest, you should be careful not to say anything before speaking with an attorney or your own insurance firm.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified auto accident lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local auto accident attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.