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What to do right after a car accident

For most Washington residents, getting in a car accident is a rare occurrence. And because of that, it can be hard to know what to do when the rare becomes reality. There are several steps to keep in mind

First, stay at the scene. Leaving early is never a good idea, especially if someone was hurt or killed in the accident. If so, fleeing the scene can lead to extensive criminal penalties. Second, check on all drivers and passengers at the scene. If anyone needs medical attention, help them. But, if someone is unconscious or complains of neck or back pain, do not move them. Leave their treatment to qualified medical practitioners.

Third, call the police, especially if the accident produced serious damage, whether to people or property. If police are called, make sure to get a copy of the police report as well as the name and badge number of the responding officer or officers. Fourth, exchange information with the other drivers. This information should include names, numbers, addresses and basic insurance information among other things. But be careful: Don't apologize or acknowledge responsibility while exchanging information. Doing so can create liability.

Fifth, speak with witnesses. Find out what they saw, get their names, contact numbers and addresses. Sixth, take pictures. After all, a picture can be worth a thousand words.

These tips are just the beginning. Washington residents interested in learning more about how to handle a car accident may benefit from getting more information about their legal options. Doing so could be the first step towards understanding their options and rights.

Source: FindLaw, "After a Car Accident: First Steps," Accessed June 14, 2016

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