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Take these steps if you get involved in a car accident

On your commute home, you’re driving along carefully in your own lane. There is plenty of traffic around you, but you keep a safe following distance and obey the speed limit. It is a simple, safe drive that you do almost every day.

Suddenly, a car pulls out of a parking lot in front of you. It’s way too close, but the other driver is on a cellphone and looking the wrong direction. You slam on the brakes as your car plows into the side of that vehicle. The airbags go off and all you can hear is the horn and the sound of screeching tires.

When the dust settles, you find it surprisingly hard to think about what you should do next. Are you in shock? Did you suffer a brain injury? What are you supposed to do?

To help you, here are a few important steps to take after a car accident:

1. If possible, pull off of the road. Get your car into a safe location that does not block traffic. Do not leave the scene. In some cases, the damage may be severe enough that you cannot move your vehicle.

2. Call 911. You or someone in another vehicle may be injured. Even if no one has to go to the hospital, the police still need to come fill out an accident report. Call 911 as quickly as you can.

3. Make sure everyone is all right. If you had anyone in your car with you, check on them. Check yourself, as well. Remember that the adrenaline rush you get in a car accident can mask some symptoms. You may think you feel fine when you really have serious injuries that become apparent later.

4. Exchange information with the other driver. You need to get his or her contact information and insurance information. You can use your phone to snap a quick photo of the insurance card, driver’s license and the car’s license plate.

5. Take pictures of the damage. Record the scene as completely as you can. Take pictures of the damage to the cars and the location of the vehicles. This can help to show the authorities who was at fault in the crash.

6. Talk to witnesses. On a crowded road, odds are that numerous people saw the crash. They can back up your story.

7. Find out how to get your police report. This can help a lot if you end up in court. Ask the police officer who responds for contact information.

Learning about your legal options

Once you take the steps listed above, make sure you look into all of your legal options to seek compensation for your injuries.