First Steps To Take After An Accident

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If you have ever been in a car accident, you know it is very difficult to stay calm in the aftermath. You are shaken and stunned; you are worrying about your safety and the safety of those around you; you are concerned about the damage done to your vehicle. You may have been injured and even in pain. In such a traumatic, chaotic environment, it's hard to think clearly.

Although no one likes to consider the possibility of being in a car accident, it is nevertheless a good idea to be prepared for the possibility, so you will know exactly what to do should this situation occur. It is a good idea to carry a list in your car that reminds you of the steps you need to take.

The first step you should take after an accident is to determine if there have been any injuries. Of course, if someone is seriously injured, you should call 911 and request an ambulance. If you are trained in CPR, you should administer first aid to anyone who has sustained minor injuries.

If the injuries are minimal or if there are no apparent injuries, tell the 911 operator that you need the police. While you are waiting for the police to arrive on scene, do not discuss the accident with the other party or parties. It is tempting to talk about what happened, or to try to explain your actions or even place blame on others for the accident, but it is not prudent to do so. If your accident ends up being litigated, your words could come back to haunt you.

You should, however, exchange insurance information with the other party. If possible, get the vehicle identification number, as well as a detailed description of the vehicle or vehicles involved in the accident.

Another thing you may want to do is to take some pictures of the accident scene, in order to document the circumstances, including any weather-related circumstances which may have led directly or indirectly to the accident. Many people have cameras built into their cell phones. Others carry a disposable camera in their car's glove compartment for just this purpose. These pictures will help prove your case if the accident is litigated.

As soon as the police arrive, give the most clear, concise version of events that you can. Do not count on the police to get all the necessary information from witnesses; instead, make sure that you or a police officer write down the name, addresses and general statements of any witnesses to the accident.

If you are able, you should call the toll-free number provided by most insurers. Tell them what has happened and ask for some advice. An insurance agent can be a calm voice in a chaotic situation. If you are able, get the police officer to speak directly with your insurance company and give a description of the accident scene.

Do not answer any questions, from the police or the insurers, about your injuries or lack thereof. The adrenaline and shock which accompany a car accident can prevent you from feeling injuries to the neck and back. Whiplash sometimes sets in a day later.

If you have any doubt as to whether or not you may have sustained an injury, you should seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible. If, after several days or weeks have passed, and you have developed an injury that may be related to your car accident, you'll want to contact your doctor for a full examination.

Lastly, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. If there is any possibility that the accident was caused by the negligence of another driver or a property owner, you may have an actionable personal injury claim. Personal injury claims can help you recover damages to which you are entitled, including compensation for your medical bills, property damages, lost wages, and pain and suffering. There are statutes of limitations which restrict the time during which you can file a personal injury lawsuit, so contacting a lawyer immediately may be in your best interests.


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