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What do I do if I'm in a car accident in Pennsylvania?

Driver training is an important step in the process of becoming a licensed driver in Pennsylvania. But the value of the education has its limits. You get the information once. You probably retain it long enough to pass the written test. And then you likely never think about it again until you get into a car accident.

All of a sudden there is a series of events that begins to play out. Unless you are prepared for it, you can find yourself totally confused and swept along toward you don't know what. If you have suffered an injury that leaves you hospitalized, the process doesn't stop. But you should be focusing on your recovery. And that is why contacting an attorney might be a good idea.

If you are fortunate enough to have escaped serious injury, here's what you should know about that accident reporting process, courtesy of FindLaw. You might print this out and keep it in your vehicle's glove box.

When an accident occurs:

  1. Don't leave the scene. At least, don't leave until authorities say you can. If you do, it could result in hit-and-run criminal charges.
  2. Check others' conditions. Call 911 in any event, but if someone is hurt, responders need to know. Moving an injured person could do more damage so it's best to leave them where they are, unless it would be hazardous otherwise.
  3. Exchange information with all involved. Vital information to gather includes names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information (company, policy number, agent information). While emotions may be riding high, it's best to remain cordial and cooperative through this.
  4. Don't try to explain or apologize. Leave the assigning of blame to investigators.
  5. Take Pictures. This is easy to do with almost any cellphone today. But it's a step that might be easy to overlook in the heat of the moment.
  6. Talk to witnesses. Ask for their names and contact information. Ask what they saw and if they know if the site is noted for accidents.
  7. Report the accident to your insurer. This should be done right away. Explain what happened truthfully and list damage and any of your injuries. Keep track of treatments and record how the accident affects your life.

Knowledge can be powerful.

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