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About 6,296,000 police-reported auto accidents occurred in the US in a single year. Another 10 million or more crashes remain unreported annually. Despite how common these accidents are, not everyone knows how to react to them.

Do you know what to do if you’re in a car accident? The steps you take could impact your future, especially if you want to file a lawsuit.

Here are the 10 auto accident steps you need to take following a crash.

1. Take a Breath and Move to Safety

It’s likely you’ll feel disoriented in the seconds following the crash. Try to take a breath. It’s important to remain calm.

Otherwise, you might say or do something that could impact your lawsuit.

As you take a few calming breaths, remind yourself of these tips on what to do if you’re in a car accident. First, put your hazard lights on. Make sure your car is safe to drive.

Do not drive your car if:

  • Fluids are leaking out from under your car (which could indicate engine damage)
  • The wheels have sustained damage
  • Any part of your vehicle seems loose or about to fall off
  • You hear a strange sound

If you don’t think your car is safe to drive, wait until the police arrive. They’ll let you know how to proceed.

If your car is safe, communicate with the other driver and move to a safe place. In some cases, it’s safe to move to the side of the road where the accident occurred.

It’s essential that you remain at the scene of the auto accident. You don’t want anyone to charge you with criminal penalties for a hit-and-run.

2. Take Stock of All Injuries

In a single year, there were 33,654 fatal motor vehicle crashes. 36,560 deaths occurred as a result of these incidents. After an accident, it’s important to call for medical help right away if you’re injured.

Otherwise, you might leave serious injuries, like whiplash or broken bones, unattended. Ignoring your symptoms for too long could lead to complications.

Once you’re in a safe place, assess your injuries. How do you feel? Are you able to move?

If you can’t move, call for help. Otherwise, moving could cause a serious spine injury.

If anyone else was involved in the car accident, take stock of their injuries as well.

3. File a Police Report

In some states, you’re legally obligated to call the police and file an official report after a car crash. You’ll also need their police report if you intend on filing a lawsuit.

When you speak to the police, make sure to stick to the facts. You don’t want to embellish.

Let the police know of any physical injuries you sustained and damages you incurred. Afterward, write down their name and badge number for your records.

4. Take Notes

It could take a while before police arrive. While you wait, start building your case. Gather essential pieces of information, including the driver’s:

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Home address
  • License plate number
  • Car make, model, and year
  • Insurance number
  • Driver’s license number

Take stock of your surroundings, too. Where did the accident take place? What were the driving conditions like?

Write everything down and save it on your phone. It’s natural to forget little details after a traumatic incident. Keeping a written record will ensure you don’t forget anything.

5. Snap Photos

You don’t have to rely solely on your memory. Instead, take the time to shoot a few photos or record a video, too. Get evidence of how the cars are positioned, nearby landmarks, and your injuries.

Your lawyer and insurance agent will need these photos.

6. Limit Small Talk

Try to avoid small talk with the other driver. Above all else, do not take responsibility for the crash. Don’t apologize, either.

Someone could see apologizing as an admission of guilt.

Instead, exchange one another’s information and let the police handle the rest.

7. Call Your Insurance Company

Your insurance company might have an app they want you to use to file an auto accident claim. Download this app before you’re in an accident. You never know if you’ll have cell phone coverage at the scene of the crash.

Let your insurance company know you were in a car crash. They’ll tell you which steps to take next.

8. Keep Track of Treatments

Remember, it’s important to have a medical professional assess your injuries. After your automobile accident, visit a doctor and let them know what happened.

Otherwise, keep track of your treatments. That includes any medications, physical therapy, or chiropractor appointments you schedule. You might have to see a pain specialist as well.

9. Find a Lawyer

It’s important to find an auto accident lawyer who has plenty of experience. They’ll understand the laws and procedures necessary for handling your case.

Look for a lawyer that has experience practicing law in the area. Check the Martindale-Hubbell website to learn more about their history, too.

Read a few reviews from their previous clients to get a better understanding of their abilities.

How long have they specialized in auto accident cases?

Schedule a few consultations with local lawyers. During your appointment, talk about the specifics of your case. What outcome do they expect if you decide to file a lawsuit?

Is the lawyer a strong communicator? Are you comfortable with them arguing on your behalf?

You can refer to this car accident lawyer to get a head start with your search.

After a few consultation appointments, consider who you were most comfortable with.

10. File a Lawsuit

Once you find an automobile accident lawyer you’re comfortable with, talk to them about filing a lawsuit. They’ll use the evidence you gathered to build your case and prove the other driver was at fault.

With their help, you can fight for compensation to cover the damages.

The Accident Aftermath: 10 Steps to Take After an Auto Accident

After a car accident, it’s natural to feel frazzled and unsure of the future. It’s okay. With this auto accident guide, you can make a plan and feel confident about what happens next.

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