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5 things you must do immediately after a car accident

Car accidents are frightening, shocking, and traumatic. Even if you're not injured, you could find yourself standing on the side of the road, shaking and breathing hard, starting at your car and unable to believe you walked away from that. If you or a loved one is injured, it's a chaotic whirlwind that can last for months. Either way, it's a jarring experience, and it's important to take the proper steps after a crash. The steps you take after a car accident can make a world of difference if you need to pursue a personal injury claim. These steps include:

1. Checking for injuries.

Check yourself. Check your passengers. Talk to the driver and passengers in the other car. When medical professionals show up, have them check you over, even if you feel all right. Worrying about property damage and your ruined daily schedule is always secondary to making sure everyone either isn't injured or is getting the help they need.

2. Staying at the scene.

Always, always stay at the scene. Yes, you may want to move your car out of traffic, and that's usually fine, but do not leave. You could face hit and run charges if you do. Find a safe place and stay with the vehicle. It can be inconvenient, but you compromise your own position if you leave, even if the other driver was the one who caused the crash.

3. Getting the other driver's information.

Take pictures of the crash and write down the other driver's license plate number. Get his or her name, phone number, driver's license number and insurance information. This is all crucial to have moving forward, when pursing insurance claims and potential lawsuits.

4. Contacting police.

The accident report the police make can also help you in a lawsuit or an insurance claim when the other driver was at fault. Obviously, you definitely need to contact the authorities if anyone's injured, but it's wise to do this regardless. Get the police involved so they can make that report and get the legal process started.

5. Keeping your cool.

When someone else causes a wreck through carelessness and negligence, you'll be angry. You'll be irate if they injured you or a loved one. These feelings are fine and natural, but you must keep your cool. Stay calm. Don't do or say anything you'll regret. Trust the legal process to help make things right when someone else is to blame.

If you do these five things, you set yourself up well for a potential lawsuit. After all, even minor injuries can mean a ride in an ambulance, a trip to the ER, and time with a doctor. None of this is free, and bills rack up incredibly fast.

On top of that, you may end up missing work - perhaps you were even on the way to work when you got hit. Now you have new bills, lost wages, and a destroyed car - a tough mountain to climb for middle-aged workers with families to support. It's good to know what legal options you have to pursue compensation, and the above steps help get everything in order, giving you the best chance of success.

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