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What to Do Immediately Following a Car Accident

UPDATED: June 19, 2018

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If you're involved in a serious car accident, of course the first thing you should do, if you are able, is call 911 for police and medical help. When everyone is out of danger, gather and write down as much information about the accident as you can:

(1) Names, driver's license numbers, contact information (at least home address and phone number) and insurance information for all drivers.

(2) Whether any of the drivers appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the effects you observed (such as slurred speech) and any witnesses to those effects. Witnesses are important because after any substances wear off, it will be your word against the driver's.

(3) Names and contact information for all passengers, all pedestrians, and all witnesses, for example, the storekeeper who saw the whole accident from across the street.

(4) Any and all statements you hear about the cause or consequences of the accident. Did anyone say, "I'm not hurt?" Did anyone take responsibility for the accident, even partially, by saying, "I wasn't looking either," "I was distracted," "I wasn't wearing my glasses," "I spilled my coffee," etc.

(5) Location, date, and time of the accident.

(6) A detailed description of the accident, including which direction the vehicles were going before the accident, the weather and related conditions (fog, rain, night, ice), what happened, any injuries, what was damaged, and what the police did, especially if they issued tickets or gave a sobriety test. Drawing a diagram can help clarify what happened.

(7) Any problems with vehicles not caused by the accident, such as bald tires or a burned out headlight.

(8) Contact information for police at the scene.

Gather as much information for the claims investigation as possible. As time passes, memories tend to fade. When you are questioned later, you'll be glad you wrote down the details at the scene.

For information on hiring a lawyer if you've been in a car accident visit, Do You Need to Contact an Attorney After a Car Accident?

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