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Things you might want to do after a car accident

Life in California can get pretty hectic. Between bringing your kids to their sports games and accompanying your mom on shopping trips, you're probably spending a lot of time behind the wheel. Curve balls can come out of nowhere, and on one of those driving escapades, you could just find yourself smack in the middle of a car accident.

After getting over the initial shock, taking a deep breath and regaining your composure, there are some things you really should do after being in a car crash. Make sure you take stock of the situation and have pen and paper handy to gather some information.

Taking these steps will help to make things easier in the days and months following an accident:

  • Look for injuries

The most important thing is that everyone involved in all right. Check all passengers in your vehicle and ensure other drivers involved do the same. Injuries may not be just physical. Anyone who seems disoriented needs to have medical assistance. Call 911 right away. Internal injuries could be serious and threaten someone's life.

  • Call the police

Whether the accident is minor or more damaging, it's important to call the police. If they think the accident is serious enough, they will come to the scene to talk to you and other drivers, passengers and possibly witnesses. The officer will more than likely fill out a report with accurate information. Ask for a copy of the report in case you'll need it for a court case.

  • Document evidence

If you're able to, take photos or a video of all vehicles involved. Time is of the essence. The sooner you can do this, the better. Make sure to capture the positions the cars are in and any signs or stoplights in the area. Take shots of everything you think may have bearing on the accident. Write down the time, the direction you were traveling and roughly what speed you were doing.

  • Do an information exchange

Even if the accident is minor and the other driver(s) doesn't want to get his or her insurance company involved, still make sure you get the driver's name, address, phone number and the name of his or her insurer. Jot down the license plate number of his or her car, note the make and model, too. If you see any witnesses, be sure to get their names and particulars as well.

  • Inform your insurance company

Calling your insurance company while you're still at the scene of the accident is a good idea. You will be able to tell them exactly what happened while it's still fresh in your mind. The person you talk to will be able to guide you as to what you should do to file a claim. They will also advise you as to what not to do.

  • Journal particulars

Keeping a log or journal of things pertaining to the accident like visits to the doctor, medical bills or receipts for car repairs you paid for. If anyone involved in the accident calls you, write those dates down, too and give him or her the name of the insurance adjuster working on your claim.

You never know when an accident will happen. Even the best drivers have been involved in them. You will be glad you kept these suggestions in mind when you are handling the aftermath of a crash.

Finally, you may want to speak to an attorney for advice just in case a lawsuit ensues because of the accident. If you were hurt because of another driver's carelessness, an attorney can provide guidance on how to best proceed to pursue compensation.

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