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What are the most important things to after a car crash?

As an Illinois driver, you know that auto accidents happen far too frequently. If you have one, there are certain things you should and should not do immediately afterward. As FindLaw explains, the most important is to stay at the scene. If you leave before law enforcement officers authorize you to do so, they may charge you with leaving the scene or even with hit-and-run.

After determining whether or not you are injured, check on your passengers and the drivers and passengers of all other vehicles involved in the accident to see if they are all right. If anyone is injured, immediately call 911 on your cellphone, identify yourself, tell the operator your location and request emergency assistance from first responders and law enforcement officers. Do not attempt to move any injured person unless you must rescue him or her from further danger, such as from a downed power line, a fire, flood waters, etc. Moving an injured person can result in exacerbation of his or her injuries.

Exchange information with other drivers

Make sure you exchange information with all other drivers, including the following:

  • Their names and addresses
  • Their telephone numbers
  • Their driver’s license numbers
  • Their license plate numbers
  • Their insurance companies and how you can contact them

While you should attempt to be friendly and helpful with other drivers, do not apologize for the accident or indicate in any way that you think you may have caused it. Determining fault is the job of police officers and insurance investigators, not you. Besides, in the immediate aftermath of a car crash, your emotions probably will run high and you may not think clearly.

Talk to witnesses

If any pedestrians witnessed the accident, or if any cars stopped to help, talk with those people, get their contact information and jot down their version of the accident.

Take pictures

Take cellphone pictures of all the cars involved in the accident, including yours, paying particular attention to their license plate numbers and any sign of damage, old or new. Also take photos of the accident scene, including road conditions, any skid marks and what, if any, traffic signals or signs, barricades, street lights, etc. are in the immediate vicinity.

Make a police report

When law enforcement officers arrive, get each officer’s name and badge number. Then make a police report, again remembering not to admit to any blame for causing the accident. Be sure to ask the officers the police report number and when, where and how you can get a copy of it. This is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.

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