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What should I do immediately after a car accident?

If you become involved in a Tennessee car crash, there are several things you should do immediately afterward. There also are several things you should not do. As FindLaw explains, the most important thing you should not do is leave the scene until law enforcement officers authorize you to do so. Leaving too soon could put you at risk for charges of leaving the scene or even hit-and-run.

Naturally the first thing you should do is check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If any of you are in pain, feel dizzy or have an obvious injury, call 911 immediately and request assistance from both first responders and law enforcement. If someone is seriously injured, do not attempt to remove him or her from the vehicle unless confronted with a life-threatening situation such as a fire, downed power line, rising flood waters, etc. Moving an injured person can exacerbate his or her injuries.

Collect information

After checking all other drivers and passengers for injuries, begin exchanging information with the other drivers including the following:

  • Names, addresses and telephone numbers
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • License plate numbers
  • Insurance company contact information

While talking with the other drivers, maintain a friendly and cooperative atmosphere, but never assume guilt for the accident, actually or impliedly, even if you think you might have been responsible for it. Everyone’s emotions run high after an accident and people are quick to assign blame. Do not participate in any of this speculation. None of you yet knows exactly what happened and it is not your jobs to determine that. The law enforcement officers and insurance adjusters perform that duty after their investigations.

Talk to witnesses

If any pedestrians witnessed the accident, talk with them, get their contact information and jot down what they say happened. Do likewise with the drivers and passengers of any vehicles that stopped to help.

Take pictures

One of the best features of cellphones is their ability to take pictures. Use yours to photograph all the vehicles involved in the accident, including your own. Pay particular attention to their license plate numbers and any evidence of damage, both old and new.

Make a police report

Once law enforcement officials arrive at the scene, get the name and badge number of each officer. Answer their questions truthfully, but again, do not in any way admit or imply guilt. Be sure to obtain the accident report number and find out when, where and how you can obtain a copy.

This is general information only and not intended to provide legal advice.

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