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What should be done immediately following an accident?

A car accident or other motor vehicle incident can be a stressful and scary affair. If someone is injured in such an incident, they may have a right to seek compensation through insurance claims and lawsuits, particularly if another party was responsible for the accident. Before considering legal action, however, there are some steps that should be taken regarding any car accident.

First, individuals involved at the accident should remain at the scene until it is appropriate to leave. In most cases, you should not leave the scene until law enforcement officials or first responders have arrived and cleared you to do so. Leaving a scene can make it difficult to collect on a claim payment later and can even make you seem more liable in the accident than you might have been. Remaining on scene lets you provide your side of the story to police officers.

You should also call the police to report the accident, especially if there is any damage or injury associated with the accident. Even if you feel damages may be minor, it's a good idea to get police involved to create an official record of the crash.

Check on everyone involved in the crash. If you are not injured so badly that you can't move, then check on other drivers and passengers. Avoid moving anyone with serious injuries or who is unconscious unless not moving them puts them in more danger. For example, people onsite may have to move an injured person before medical professionals arrive if a vehicle catches fire.

Exchange insurance and contact information with all drivers involved. In some cases, you might also want to gather contact information for any witnesses to the crash. This could be valuable information if you later take a claim for compensation to court.

Source: FindLaw, "After a Car Accident: First Steps," accessed July 10, 2015

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