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What you need to do after a car accident

Car accidents are a lamentable regularity for drivers. In fact, an article by Forbes estimates that the average American will be involved in three or four accidents in their lifetime, a traffic collision roughly every 17.9 years.

Over 6 million car accidents happen annually and 3 million accidents result in injuries. In the U.S. more than 90 people die in fatal car accidents each day. Not only are accidents deadly, they are expensive. The average insurance claim for an injury accident claim is $23,450.

Follow these steps

Car accidents happen quickly and in the aftermath it can be difficult to remember what you are supposed to do. If you are involved in a car accident, try to stay calm and focus on the practical matters at hand.

  • Stay at the scene: It is your legal obligation to stop after a car accident. You do not want to face penalties for a hit and run accident.
  • Assess the situation: Determine the extent of injuries to yourself and other parties. Call for medical assistance if necessary. Avoid moving anyone seriously injured until medical professionals arrive.
  • Call the police: If possible, try not to move the cars before the police arrive. The police will be able to better document the accident if the scene has not been altered. In some cases this is not possible and it is in your best interest to move the cars out of the way of traffic. Make sure an accident report is filed.
  • Exchange information: Now is the time to exchange insurance information with the other party and any passengers. Do not admit fault or apologize as it could be an admission of legal liability.
  • Document the scene of the accident: In the era of smartphones this is much easier. Use your phone to take photos of the accident scene, vehicle damage and any immediately apparent physical injuries you sustained.
  • Contact your insurance company: Reach out to your insurance company and report the accident. Be truthful and explain what happened. Lying to an insurance company can cause serious trouble and the insurer could deny coverage of the accident.
  • Get medical treatment: If you suffered any injuries get medical treatment right away. Keep records of any treatment received, such as bills and medical reports. If your injury was particularly serious and painful it can be a good idea to keep a journal record of how the injury has limited your ability to perform daily functions.
  • Consider hiring an attorney: An attorney can negotiate your settlement options and handle miscellaneous tasks so you can focus on recovering. An attorney is also better qualified to defend you if you are at fault.

Statistically speaking, even if you are a careful driver the odds are not in your favor. Although you may feel scattered and full of adrenaline immediately following the accident, try to shift your focus from the trauma of the accident to what needs to be done next.