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What should I do immediately after an auto accident?

Many Virginia residents may know that certain steps should be taken after an auto accident without knowing exactly what those steps are or why they are important. For victims of a car accident who decide to file a car accident claim, however, knowing what to do and actually doing those things can make a significant difference in the potential success of a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

One of the most important things to do after an accident is to not leave the scene of the accident. All drivers should remain on the scene in order to speak with police and emergency personnel and allow authorities to determine what exactly occurred. People involved in an accident should contact the police and any needed emergency responders as soon as possible in order to increase safety and ensure that injured victims receive needed medical help. After contacting the police--and medical professionals, if needed--drivers in some situations should attempt to move their cars to the side of the roadway, if at all possible. However, if the vehicles are severely damaged or moving the vehicles is dangerous, it is best to leave the vehicles in their original location.

If possible, drivers and/or passengers should attempt to collect as much information as they can from the other people involved in the collision. This will help ensure that they have contact information for all involved parties in case further information is required in the future. This information can be invaluable in filing an insurance claim or initiating a lawsuit. Relevant information includes name and address and phone numbers, insurance information, and license plate numbers.

By remaining calm, responding quickly and safely, informing police and emergency personnel, and collecting critical information from the other involved parties, drivers have the best chance of ensuring an adequate accident investigation and protecting their own interests in the event compensation is needed.

Source: FindLaw, "After a Car Accident: First Steps," accessed on Oct. 12, 2014

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