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Q: What should I do after an accident?

There are 7 things you should do immediately after an accident:

  • Check to see if anyone has been injured. Your first priority after being involved in an accident is to make sure you, your loved ones and anyone else involved in the accident is safe. If anyone has been injured, have them stay in the vehicle until an ambulance arrives, unless your car is in a position of danger or there is a risk of fire.
  • Call 911 and report the accident. Regardless of the severity of the accident, the amount of damage to your vehicle or whether or not you feel you have been injured, it is important to get the police involved in all car accidents. The police will investigate the accident scene, collect statements from all parties involved, including key witnesses and draft an accident report summarizing all the facts they gathered. This report will usually indicate who the at-fault driver is and whether any traffic citations were issued and it will be used by insurance companies to determine the liability of each driver.
  • Exchange insurance information. Be sure to get the other driver’s tag number, license number, and insurance company information. This is an extremely important thing to do after getting into an accident. If you do not get the other person’s insurance information, your insurance company may end up making you pay out of pocket for the damages, even if the other driver was at fault.
  • Get the names of witnesses. It is important to get the name and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident. Insurance companies are more likely to believe an uninvolved third party than the two biased drivers when it comes to recapping the accident. Witnesses will not wait always for the police to arrive so you need to get their contact information before they leave the accident scene.
  • Take photographs. It is important to take as many photographs as you can of the accident scene. Make sure you take photographs of the damage done to all vehicles, any skid marks on the pavement, as well as the direction of glass or other car parts on the road. All of these photographs will help insurance companies determine the cause of the accident. It is also important to take photographs of any injuries caused by the accident. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words and sometimes in these cases, thousands of dollars.
  • Seek medical attention. If an ambulance is called to the scene, you should allow the paramedics to examine you. If they recommend taking you directly to a hospital Emergency Room, you should go. Even if you just feel a little sore and bruised, you should go to the Emergency Room as the adrenaline of being in an auto accident may be blocking out pain, and some injuries won’t be immediately apparent. If you do not go to the hospital from the accident scene, but believe you are injured, have someone drive you to the hospital Emergency Room or to your doctor’s office as soon after the accident as possible. Any delay in medical treatment will be used against you by the insurance company.
  • Protect your rights. Report the facts of the accident to your insurance company but do not discuss your injuries with the insurance company without first speaking with an attorney.

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