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Everyone dreads getting into a car accident, but it’s unfortunately incredibly common. Over six million vehicle accidents occur every year in the United States, so there’s a decent likelihood that you may be involved in a car accident at some point in your life. When a car accident does occur, use this list to make sure you get through the experience as smoothly as possible.

Before You Leave Your Car

Before anything else, take a deep breath – it may sound cliche, but there is actually evidence that taking a moment before exiting your car can help you process the stress and trauma of a car accident. Of course, only stay in your vehicle if it is safe to do so. If there is any immediate damage within the car or staying inside the car is at all dangerous, leave the car as quickly and safely as possible. Make sure all passengers are safe and able to leave the vehicle if needed; if anyone is injured, call for emergency services immediately.

Immediately After The Accident

Once you’ve left your car, make sure you and anyone else outside the vehicle is staying safe away from other cars on the road. It’s likely passing vehicles will slow down to look, and drivers in these vehicles may not immediately see you. Make sure all parties involved are staying safe outside the vehicle.

Be sure to document any and all damage the car may have experienced, being careful to document damage that might not be as easily seen, such as damaged metal or parts under the hood. Be careful not to touch any metal that may have been damaged or overheating; iron ore typically melts at 2,750 degrees Fahrenheit, while steel typically has a melting point of 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Without touching anything that might harm you, document all parts of your car, and also be sure to get the contact and insurance information of any other driver involved. This information will be helpful in filing a report on the accident.

In The Days After

After the accident, your next steps are likely to vary depending on the severity and the damage incurred. If your car has been severely damaged by the accident or will need repair, make sure to contact a nearby dealership or auto shop for appropriate repairs and parts replacements. While the immediate reaction might be to go to an auto shop first, don’t rule out dealerships; dealerships across the United States wrote over 316 million repair orders in 2017.

If you or another passenger in your car has been injured seriously by the accident and has received medical care, consider contacting an attorney as well. Personal injury attorneys often help those who have been in a car accident and need additional compensation to pay for medical bills. In fact, motor vehicle accidents are the most common personal injury cases, making up 52% of all U.S. personal injury cases.

If you get into a car accident, make sure to follow these steps in order to handle the situation quickly, calmly, and efficiently. With these tips, you’ll be back on the road safely in no time. And remember: even slowing down by .6 miles per hour could help reduce the rate of car accidents.