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Dos and don’ts after a car accident

Even if you adhere to Washington traffic laws and are alert and cautious behind the wheel, you may be at risk of injury if there is a distracted, sleepy, intoxicated or reckless driver nearby. Another vehicle suddenly hitting you can not only cause severe, even life-threatening injuries, but intense emotional trauma, as well. It can be difficult to think clearly in the immediate aftermath of a car accident.

There are several critical things to remember as you wait for police and other rescuers to arrive. It is just as important to remember what to do as it is to remember what not to do. A collision can have far-reaching effects, especially if your injuries cause a permanent disability. What you do and say at the accident scene can affect your immediate and long-term recovery.

8 important things to do at the scene of a car accident — and 6 things to avoid

If you can walk, the first thing you’ll want to do after a collision is exit your vehicle and move to a safe location to await the arrival of police and rescuers. If you’re trapped inside your vehicle, try to remain calm. Whenever possible, it’s important to do everything shown in the following list:

  • Dial 911 if someone hasn’t already done so.
  • Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver.
  • Request a copy of the accident report.
  • Document all injuries and damage, including photographing the scene.
  • Seek medical attention immediately, even if you believe injuries are minor.
  • Cooperate with investigators.
  • Report the incident to your insurance company.

At the same time, there are certain things you should not do, such as:

  • Engage in a confrontation with the other driver or vehicle occupants.
  • Leave the scene.
  • Admit fault.
  • Stand near moving traffic.
  • Refuse to provide necessary information, such as your contact info and the name and number of your insurance agency.
  • Decline medical attention.

It is always best to avoid these things because each issue can make matters worse. In the days following a car accident, it’s a good idea to follow up with the police department, your insurance agent and your medical team.

When a motor vehicle collision leads to litigation

When a Washington car accident is determined to have been preventable were it not for the other driver’s negligence, a recovering victim may seek restitution for damages. This is especially helpful for those with severe injuries. Extensive medical care, time off work and other post-accident issues can cause tremendous financial distress. Court-awarded compensation can offset expenses.