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What to do after you're in a car accident

If you found yourself jarred by the sudden impact of another vehicle, you'll understand that an accident can be sudden and life-altering. From the moment of impact, your priorities change; you worry about your health, your family, and other people who could have been hurt.

As time goes on, you can start worrying about the damage to your vehicle or financial losses, which your attorney can help you recover. In the meantime, there are things that must happen to help your case move forward.

When you're in an accident, the first thing you need to do is report it. Normally, if there are injuries, calling 9-1-1 will get you an operator who will call the police and emergency medical services. When the police arrive, they will take time to collect a report and to begin an investigation if necessary.

If you don't make an accident report or return one when it's given to you to return to the police, you can lose your license. The report must be returned within 72 hours and it needs to be completely filled in. One the fourth page of this report, information about your insurance will need to be filled in. The same is true for the other driver. If the other driver does not have insurance, then failing to complete the page could result in that driver losing his license and registration. This can also mean you'll need to file a personal injury claim to recover costs, since no insurance company will be there to pay out a settlement to you after the claim is filed.

Source: Iowa Department of Transportation, "Accident Reports," accessed May 12, 2016

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