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Don't forget to do these 4 things after an accident

According recent records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, authorities documented over six million accident reports in 2014. Of these crashes, more than two million people were injured and nearly 33,000 died. The point: Car crashes happen all of the time.

It is unlikely to navigate through life without at least one mishap. Hopefully, you never have to endure anything more than a mild fender-bender. Serious accidents result in significant emotional, physical and financial turmoil for both the victim of a collision and his or her family.

Though truck, car and motorcycle accidents are numerous, we nonetheless tend to omit critical steps from our post-accident protocol. To protect your interests after a crash, make sure you do all of the following - especially for more serious accidents. Omitting any of these actions could be costly.

Take photographs.

A picture is worth a thousand words. After an accident, do not fail to take photographs of everything in sight. Capture all vehicles involved in the collision from multiple angles - inside and out. Also, do not forget to take snapshots of exactly where the crash occurred.

It is also a good idea to photograph any vehicle occupants and bystanders. Ultimately, these pictures can be helpful in supporting your understanding of what happened. Moreover, with the proliferation of technology (camera phones, iPads, etc.), this practice should be relatively easy. If you prefer, keep a disposable camera in your car's glove box. It is best to use a camera with a flash for accidents in the dark.

Call the police.

Never forget to contact local authorities after a car accident. Once insurance companies are involved, they may turn to a police report - but only if one exists. This can serve as an official, nonbiased record of the accident. If there is no documentation, you will be stuck in a game of he-said, she-said. Furthermore, police can be helpful and supportive on the scene.

Collect adequate information.

While the police report is helpful, records will not provide the requisite information your insurance company will need to pursue a claim. This is your job. At a minimum, collect the name, address, phone number and driver's license number of all involved motorists.

Note that every driver should have proof of car insurance, so it is OK to ask to see it. It helps to jot down each motorist's name (as it appears on the card), his or her insurance company and a policy number. It is also a good idea to record the names and contact information of any passengers involved in the accident.

Also, do not forget to collect the contact information of the reporting officer. You may need to be in touch with authorities to gather any relevant case information, if necessary.

Get medical help.

The worst thing you can do after an accident is fail to seek immediate medical attention. Car accidents can be numbing. It is hard to evaluate your personal well-being after such a traumatic experience. For this reason, get medical attention right away. You may feel fine on the day of the crash, and then uncover very serious medical issues in subsequent weeks.

A medical professional can help detect hidden injuries and ailments that may take days or weeks to surface. Moreover, the record of such an exam can help bolster a legal claim down the road if an injury emerges and you decide to pursue recovery.

The hope is that an inattentive or negligent driver never compromises your safety on the road. Unfortunately, accidents are all too common. If you are involved in an accident, do not fail to do any of these important, critical steps. For peace of mind, it's always a good idea to be thorough.

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Robert L. Brenna, Jr.Selected to Super Lawyers: 2007 - 2015

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