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What should I do if I'm involved in a car or truck accident?

In the wake of a car accident, those drivers and passengers involved may feel disoriented and afraid. There are, however, important steps a driver should take if he or she is involved in a car accident. Individuals who fail to follow the correct procedures could end up facing criminal charges, be held responsible for unjustified damages and health costs and jeoparde their ability to receive compensation related to injuries.

The most important thing to do after a car accident occurs is to stop and make sure no one involved is seriously injured and in need of emergency medical care. It's also important to call 911 and stay at the accident scene until police arrive. Individuals who fail to stop or remain at an accident scene may face criminal charges related to hit-and-run. 

Drivers invovled in an accident should exchange driver's license information and write own information about the other driver's vehicle. It's also wise to obtain the identifying information of any passengers who were invovled in the accident as well as any witnesses. At no time should a driver admit fault in contributing to or causing the accident.

Once police arrive at the accident scene, a driver will be asked to provide a statement of what occured and should take down the officer's name and badge number. It's then important to call one's insurance company and report the accident and again provide an account of what occured. Additionally, if substantial property damage occured or someone invovled was seriously injured; California drivers are required to contact the DMV within 10 days. 

Drivers and passengers are also advised to seek medical care. In some cases, injuries suffered in a car accident may not be noticable until days later. Even seemingly minor injuries may be more serious than initially believed and could require an individual to undergo a more invasive medical procedure or rehabilitation. 

In accidents where another driver is at fault, his or her insurance company should pay the costs associated with vehicle repair and medical costs. In cases where an injured driver or passenger is not satified with a claim settlement amount, a personal injury lawsuit may be appropriate. 

The State Bar of California, "WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE AN AUTO ACCIDENT?," 2014

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