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Protect Yourself in a Crash – Your Post-Accident Checklist

Few things are as traumatic as being involved in an accident. Even if the crash was not your fault, becoming an accident victim is frightening and disorienting. Whether you are a brand new driver or one with decades behind the wheel, knowing what steps to take after an accident can make all the difference.

No matter what kind of car you drive or how long you have been driving, it is important to protect your rights. Keep this checklist in your glove box or trunk and use it if you are involved in a crash.

  • Ask about injuries – Before you do anything else, you need to make sure none of the other drivers or passengers are injured. Getting help for the injured parties should be your No. 1 priority.
  • Call the police or an ambulance if needed – If anyone is injured, call for help as soon as possible. If the injuries are serious, be sure to call 911 and request an ambulance. If one or more cars are disabled or cannot be moved, it is important to contact the local police and request a report be filed.
  • Get the license plate number of the other vehicle – Write down the license plate number of the other car. You will need this information later, and having it will also protect you if the other driver tries to leave the scene.
  • Record the name and contact information of any witnesses – Get the full names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident. This information will be important when trying to determine who was at fault.
  • Document and photograph the accident scene – Take plenty of pictures fo the accident scene. Document the exact location with pictures of street signs and road markers, take pictures of the vehicles and close-ups of the damage. Be sure the pictures show the weather conditions, especially if it was foggy, rainy or snowing.
  • Record the exact location of the accident – Write down the exact intersection or location where the accident took place. You will need to provide this information to the insurance company when you file your claim. Having the exact accident location will make it easier for the insurance adjuster or accident reconstruction team to tell what happened and determine which party was at fault.
  • Ask the other driver for their driver’s license and record the license number – You will need the full name and address of the other driver, and the easiest way to get this information is to ask for their driver’s license. Ask for the license and provide your own in exchange. Record the name and address and the full driver’s license number.
  • Exchange insurance information – Get out your insurance card and ask the other driver for theirs. Record the full name and phone number of the insurance company, along with the policy number of the other driver. You will need this information when you report the accident to your insurance company.
  • Get contact information for the other driver – If you have not done so already, ask for the phone number and other contact information of the driver. Also get contact information for anyone who may have witnessed the accident.
  • Call your insurance company and report the accident – Report the claim as soon as possible. Provide an impartial report of what happened, along with the information you gathered earlier.
  • Contact a personal injury lawyer to protect your rights – If you think you might be injured, it is important to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Doing so will protect your rights.
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