Eleven ways to smooth the ride after an accident

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Our community has seen an alarming increase in the number of automobile accidents in the recent past. More than one involved a fatality, and it seems there are multiple accidents on our roads every day. If you do have an automobile accident, you'll want to do everything you can to keep everyone safe, and to make sure you can recover any losses coming out of it. So keep these tips in mind:

  1. Stay calm and assess the situation. Contact the police and, if needed, medical personnel.
  2. Exchange information with the other driver(s) - name, address, telephone number, insurance information, driver's license number and license tag. Do not discuss the facts of the accident with the other driver(s), and do not admit fault.
  3. Take pictures of the vehicles and accident scene. Note damage to the vehicles, skid marks and important points of reference so that you can describe what happened. Write down your recollection of the events, using sketches and diagrams.
  4. Talk to any witnesses to the accident and get their contact information.
  5. When the police arrive, get the reporting officer's name and badge number. Ask how you can obtain the accident report.
  6. Contact your insurance company. If they want to take a statement about the accident and injuries you may have suffered, you should consult an attorney before doing so.
  7. The other driver's insurance company may also request a statement. To be fully advised on what to expect, you should consult an attorney before discussing anything with them as well.
  8. Even if you do not feel injured at the scene of the accident, use caution in stating that you were not injured. You may need medical treatment later and want to avoid conflicting statements.
  9. Seek medical attention if needed. It's important to get treated for injuries as soon as possible and to have thorough medical records that document any injuries.
  10. Keep a diary. Record any pain and discomfort you are feeling, making a note of how your injuries have affected your daily life and routine.
  11. In addition to a diary, maintain a complete file on your accident, including medical documentation, prescriptions, lost wages and other out-of-pocket expenses.

No one plans on an accident, but being prepared can help you get back on track and on to a smoother ride as soon as possible. Appeared in the The Colletonian, February 28, 2013

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