What should I do after a car accident?

In the aftermath of a car accident, it can be difficult to remember what information you need to record.

Every year, across the United States, there are around 11 million motor vehicle accidents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over 33,800 people die in auto accidents each year. In Tennessee alone, almost 1,000 people lost their lives in car crashes in 2009, according to the Census Bureau.

Of course, more often, when one of the 11 million auto accidents takes place in the United States, property damage and personal injuries will result.

When a car accident takes place, it can be a challenge to get your bearings, to think straight and figure out what to do next.

Take care of yourself

First and foremost, if you have been in a car crash, you need to make sure you are safe. To the extent you are able, you should assess whether you have been injured. If you or others have suffered serious injuries, call 911.

If it is possible, it is a good idea to move your vehicle to the side of the road or some other area out of the way of oncoming traffic. If you are not able to move your vehicle, consider putting out flares or other markers to alert other motorists. The last thing you want is to be involved in a second accident because another driver failed to notice your stopped car.

Exchange information

After an accident, it is common for all involved parties to be a little shaken up. Despite the nerves, you want to be sure to accurately record the other party's relevant information, such as:

• Name

• Phone number

• Address

• Driver's license number

• License plate number

• Insurance information

If you are not confident about your ability to write down all of the information, consider taking a photograph of the other driver's license plate and insurance card. You will then ensure that shaky hands do not prevent you from getting all the information that you need.

Take photographs

To avoid a "he said, she said" situation later, it is a good idea to document the scene after the crash. Luckily, most people have easy access to a camera on their cellphone, these days.

Not only is it a good idea to photograph any damage done to the vehicles involved in the crash, you should also photograph any other relevant information. For instance, if the accident occurred at an intersection with a "No turn on red sign," and the crash involved a driver turning on red, you may want to photograph the sign.

Consult with a personal injury attorney

When damage is done to the vehicle or someone has suffered an injury, it is a good idea to talk to a knowledgeable legal professional. A skilled personal injury lawyer will work with you to ensure you are not saddled with the often overwhelming vehicle repair and medical expenses following a motor vehicle accident.

Keywords: car accident, aftermath