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I've been in a traffic accident. What should, and shouldn't, I do?

A car accident can be frightening, but knowing what to do after a traffic accident happens can help you feel more in control. Making good choices after an accident, no matter who is at fault, can also help protect your interests and reduce your risks of suffering financial losses.

What Are the First Steps?

  • Don't leave the scene, even if the accident is very minor and you have addressed it with the other driver.
  • Check on the driver(s) and passengers in the other car(s) to see if anyone is injured.
  • Contact the police so they can investigate what happened and file an accident report.
  • Exchange insurance information with the other driver(s) involved.
  • Talk to anyone who witnessed the accident, and get their side of the story.

What Else Should You Do?

  • Call your insurance company and let them know about the accident.
  • Keep careful records of any medical diagnosis and treatment and copies of bills detailing the associated costs.
  • Take plenty of pictures of the accident scene and the involved vehicles from different angles.
  • Obtain an estimate for any property damage.
  • Be careful what you say about the accident as you don't want to admit fault or say something that could later be used as justification to deny a claim.
  • Think carefully about any settlement you're offered and don't take the settlement if you don't feel the amount is fair.
  • Consider hiring an attorney to protect your interests and improve your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve.

Do You Need An Attorney?

Not every car accident warrants hiring an attorney. Minor fender-benders are usually not an issue, and many people are cooperative about their role in an accident. However, if you find that the other driver involved is not willing to provide information, that you are accused of being at fault or there are serious injuries; hiring an attorney can help you protect yourself. You have rights, and having a strong legal advocate on your side can help ensure that you are treated fairly and receive just compensation for any injuries and damages.

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