A car accident is a frightening and often shocking experience, making it hard to behave logically—at exactly the moment when logical well-weighed behavior is crucial for your well-being and possibly even survival. Therefore, it pays to be prepared and know what you should do before you get into an accident, so that you don’t have to invent anything on the spur of the moment.

1. Make sure everyone is safe.

Take a moment to calm down—it will help you make better decisions in the minutes to come. Try to subdue your emotions. Under no circumstances leave the scene of the accident, irrespectively of your condition—it does not simply endanger the lives of yourself and other people, but is also punishable with severe fines and imprisonment. Take stock of any injuries received by yourself and other people involved in the accident, and if there are any, immediately call for an ambulance. Unless you have medical education, avoid moving injured persons, especially if they feel pain in the neck (unless it is absolutely necessary).

2. Call the police.

Even if the accident doesn’t seem to be serious, it is still preferable to call the police. This way you will have an official record of the accident, which will help you in case the other party decides to use the event for their own benefit. Ask that a report be filed and write down the names and badge numbers of the police officers who arrive at the scene—lawyers and insurance agents may need them later on.

3. Gather information.

Collect all possible information: the names and phone numbers of all other drivers involved in the accident, as well as info about their cars: model, make, year, license plate. Don’t divulge your social security number, home address and don’t allow other drivers to make photos of your driver’s license. Also, make sure you don’t apologize—even if you believe you are to be blamed for the accident, it is not for you to decide. If you apologize, it may be considered as an acceptance of liability. Talk to witnesses, get their names and contact information, write down what they say they saw. Take photos of the damage taken by all the vehicles involved, the place of the accident and the people.

4. Contact lawyers and insurance agents.

Report the accident to your insurance company without any delays and provide all the information asked of you. Don’t lie or embellish the truth—if your lies are uncovered, the company will deny your accident coverage. If the other driver suggests not filing claims, do not agree—they may decide to do so later on, either as a part of a scam or simply after changing their mind, and may even claim damages and injuries that weren’t noticeable (or existent) at the moment. Hiring a good law firm specializing in injury law is also a good idea—and it is better to do so early on, so that your lawyers have an opportunity to start working on the case without delay.

5. Keep track of medical expenses.

If as a result of the accident you have to visit a hospital and undergo treatment, keep all the records—you will have to present them to your insurance agent and lawyers to justify the damages and injuries you claim.

Getting into a car accident is never pleasant. However, if you know what to do from the get go, you can considerably improve your chances of minimizing the damages and preventing scam on the part of other involved parties.

Hope these tips were usefil for you. Good luck and don’t get in trouble!

Featured photo credit: Photo by: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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