A post-car accident action plan

It doesn't even matter if you're uninjured following a car crash. Your adrenaline will be pumping and you won't be thinking clearly. You might even be feeling a little shaky as your nerves settle down. For this reason, it's good to be prepared ahead of time with a list of what you should do immediately following a crash.

The following action plan will keep you safe and ensure that you protect your legal rights after a car crash:

-- Stay put: Don't leave the accident scene after a crash as it could get you in trouble with the law.

-- Check up on everyone involved: Was anyone hurt in the crash? Be sure to call for medical attention for yourself and anyone in need of assistance.

-- Save medical records: Keep all of your medical records and receipts for medical services in one place. Save them for future reference.

-- Call for police assistance: Even if it seems like a minor accident, your safest bet is to contact police and have them assess the situation. Request that police complete a police report and ask for the officer's contact information.

-- Get everyone's information: Get the contact information for all drivers and passengers involved in the crash. Also, get the information for witnesses and take notes on what the witnesses and other parties in the accident say.

-- Take pictures: Use your cellphone camera, if you have one to take photos of the crash site, injuries, physical damage, the accident scene and anything else you find relevant.

-- Don't apologize and don't settle: Don't say you're sorry for anything that happened, and don't make a confession of wrongdoing. Stay calm, cordial, honest and allow police to decide who is at fault for the crash. Also, don't agree to settle with any insurance company that contacts you after the crash.

-- Contact your insurance company: As soon as you can after the crash, call your auto insurance company to inform them of what happened.

In addition to the above steps, you may want to consider discussing your car accident with a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer can advise you of your legal rights and options and determine whether you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim for financial compensation and damages after the incident.

Source: FindLaw, "After a Car Accident: First Steps," accessed May 26, 2017

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