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What steps should you take after a car accident?

Car accidents in West Virginia, like all other areas of the country, happen daily. No one anticipates being in a car accident, but if one does happen, there are steps that should be taken. Knowing these steps before an accident occurs can help you remain calm during such a traumatic and emotional time.

  • After being involved in a car accident, you should remain at the scene. If someone involved in the car accident suffers from serious injuries or dies, you can face serious criminal penalties if you leave the scene.
  • Before checking on what damage was done to your vehicle, check on all the drivers and passengers that were involved in the crash. Make sure that everyone else is okay and get medical attention if anyone needs it.
  • Call the police if there is significant car damage, injuries or death. Get a copy of the police report and write down the names and badge numbers of the police officers who responded to the scene.
  • Exchange information with all drivers involved in the accident. This includes names, addresses, phone numbers, driver's license number, license plate numbers and insurance information. It is important to be affable to everyone involved but do not admit fault.
  • Talk to witnesses. Ask all the witnesses what they saw and get their names and contact information if possible. It may also be a good idea to ask people who are local to the area if they have witnessed accidents at the same place before.
  • Inform your insurance company of the accident. Tell them the truth about the accident and the extent of your injuries.
  • If you receive medical treatment as a result of the accident, keep track of all visits to all medical providers. Also keep a record of how the accident has impacted your daily life-missed workdays, routine activities you can't participate in and how the injuries have affected your family life.
  • Take pictures of any vehicle damage right away.
  • Obtain the insurance company's property damage valuation. If the amount isn't satisfactory, you can get an independent repair estimate and let the adjuster know of your concerns.
  • Don't talk about the accident with anyone except your lawyer, the insurance company and the police.
  • Consider hiring an attorney to maximize your recovery or to protect yourself if you are at fault.
  • Be mindful of settlements from insurance companies and make sure they take into account all of your injuries.

Source: Findlaw, "After a Car Accident: First Steps," Accessed August 24, 2014

Source: Findlaw, "After a Car Accident: First Steps," Accessed August 24, 2014

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