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Car accidents are stressful and frightening. They are also frighteningly common. Every year, more than 1.25 million people die in road accidents — more than 3,000 per day worldwide. Others are injured, and still more see damage to their vehicles. Some areas are safer than others, but no road on the planet is completely safe. So while we all might hope that we never have to know what to do if we are injured in a car accident, it’s important to have this kind of knowledge just in case.

That’s why we’re here to share some basic instructions and tips for those who find themselves hurt in a car accident. Here’s what you need to know.

Call for help immediately

After any car accident, the very first thing anyone should do is to see if they are hurt. The second thing should be checking on others. If anyone is hurt, you should call 911 immediately.

Now is not the time to think of healthcare costs or doctor’s bills. The priority needs to be your health. Car accident injuries can be deadly serious, so call 911 right away. Getting help fast could quite literally be a matter of life and death.

Keep getting help — and document it

Injuries from car accidents can linger. You may need extensive medical care, including things like physical therapy. Check high quality medical reviews, get referrals from your trusted care providers, and work with your insurance company to get as much care as possible covered. Nothing is more important than your health.

But your financial needs should be in the back of your mind, too. Get everything documented, and hold onto the paperwork and records that you have. In addition to vital information like the police report from the scene of the accident, you should keep doctor’s notes, medical bills, health insurance paperwork, and your own notes on the care that you’re getting. All of this could matter if and when you seek financial restitution in court.

Consider legal action

Most of us would prefer to go through our whole lives without having to sue anyone. But if you find yourself buried in medical bills after an accident that was not your fault, then you won’t necessarily have the option to avoid the courtroom.

A personal injury lawsuit could help you get back on your feet, explains the one California attorney with a reputation as a “super woman super lawyer.” In a state with as many cars as California, there are plenty of accidents, and this attorney has seen her fair share of car accident cases! Laws in states like California provide help for folks who have been injured due to the negligence of others. If someone else is responsible for your injury — and therefore all of your pain and medical bills — why should you pay for it?

If you do seek legal action, your careful documentation will come in handy in a big way. The more that you can show an attorney at an initial consultation, the better they will be able to evaluate your situation and, if they take your case, help you in court. A settlement or court order could provide you with compensation for medical expenses, lost wages (due to an inability to work), and pain and suffering, so this is very important stuff!

Choose your attorney carefully. Read reviews, ask friends and family members for recommendation, and show up with all of the paperwork you’ve been saving. Explain your situation clearly and focus on the facts and details, not your emotions and desires. And do all of this quickly — the sooner you take action after you accident, the better your chances will be of seeing a great outcome in court.