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Three steps to take immediately following a car accident

Getting into an accident is a chaotic event. Frustrations may run high, but having a few basic ideas of how to handle the situation can help you get information you may need later.

So what should you do after a car crash?

  • Call the police. Take a quick inventory of the situation. If the crash is significant, stay at the scene and call for help. How can you tell if the crash is significant? A basic rule of thumb is to look for any injuries or serious damage to a vehicle. If anyone is injured, get medical attention. Once police arrive, they will begin gathering information about the accident. If they did not state that they would file a police report, ask for one.
  • Get information. Get the name, contact, license plate and insurance information of the other driver. Get names of anyone else in the other car. Also, get names and contact information for any witnesses. Take pictures of your vehicle and the other vehicle. If you suffered injuries, take pictures of those as well. It is also a good idea to get a copy of the police report.
  • Keep records. Gather the above information and start a file or folder. Include notes about any injuries and medical bills, including rehabilitation needs. Note any missed work. Also include dates, times and details of any conversations regarding the accident. This could include contacts from police, the other driver or insurance companies.

Although it may seem like the moments immediately following an accident are the most chaotic, things do not settle down for weeks or even months following the crash. Those involved in the accident will likely have to navigate claims with insurance companies and, depending on the cause of the accident, could be dealing with criminal charges.

Victims of accidents caused by another's reckless or negligent behavior have options. Criminal charges hold the accused accountable, but a civil case can allow the victim the opportunity to hold the other driver responsible for his or her actions. It can also lead to monetary awards that can help cover the costs resulting from the accident.

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