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Steps to take if you are involved in a car accident

The time immediately following a car accident can be confusing and nerve-wracking for those involved. Many of us may not know what to do and what information to gather. Additionally, if there are injuries to anyone, parties involved in a car accident may be distraught and in need of medical attention. Thus, first and foremost, if one is injured in a car accident it is important to seek medical attention.

Regardless of the severity of the accident, it is important to remain at the scene of the accident until authorities arrive and it is deemed appropriate for one to leave. Leaving the scene of an accident prematurely, particularly when serious injuries have been suffered, can result in an individual being subjected to criminal penalties, such as hit and run charges. It is also important to get information such as the responding officers' badge numbers for future reference and record. Typically, when the police respond to a car accident a police report will be filed, and one can get a copy, which may help with insurance claims and potential future litigation.

In addition to remaining at the scene of the accident until it is appropriate to leave, seeking medical attention for oneself or another who has been injured, and contacting the police, it is essential to check for damage to the vehicles involved in the accident. Nowadays, most phones have a camera, so that is one way to document this important information.

Exchanging insurance information, getting the names and contact information of those involved in the accident, as well as that of any witnesses is also important to gather. However, during the exchange of information it is important not to comment on who is at fault, as this could affect an individual's likelihood of recovering compensation in the future. One's insurance company should also be informed as soon as possible. Insurance companies will later assess car damage and provide a property damage valuation.

If one suffered injuries in a car wreck and medical care was rendered, then it is very important to keep records of all the medical treatment received, the nature of one's injuries, and any on-going medical care one may need in the future. This will help a victim and his or her attorney determine what amount of compensation to which he or she may be entitled should legal action be justified.

Source: FindLaw, "After a Car Accident: First Steps," Accessed December 8, 2014

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