The immediate aftermath of a car accident is a confusing blur of activity. In this frantic environment, it can be difficult to gather your thoughts and devise a cohesive, step-by-step plan. Your mind will likely be racing: Is everyone alright? How bad is the damage? Am I at fault? What should I do next?

To better prepare you for an accident, here are five important recommendations to keep in mind. And remember, if you or a member of your family suffers a serious injury, you can always contact a Will Davidson LLP car accident lawyer for help.

Stay Calm

Keeping a level head is essential to successfully navigating the aftermath of an auto accident. Never flee the scene in panic – instead, take a deep breath, make sure you’re uninjured or not seriously injured, and ensure any passengers you may be carrying are safe.

If somebody has been injured, call 911. Do not try to administer medical aid on your own; you may do more harm than good. Stay calm and wait for medical aid to arrive.

Inspect the scene

If you can safely exit your vehicle, do so and carefully inspect the scene. If you have a cell phone or digital camera handy, take as many pictures as possible of the vehicle or vehicles involved, the full scene of the accident, and road conditions at the scene. This information could be invaluable to a car accident lawyer if legal action is taken.

Exchange information

Assuming your accident involved two or more vehicles, make sure to exchange relevant information with the other drivers. Take down their names, addresses, phone numbers, license and insurance company information, and insurance policy numbers.

If multiple passengers were involved in the accident, collect their basic contact information. You should also speak to potential witnesses of the crash and ensure you can reach them at a later date.

Don’t admit guilt

As you are exchanging information, be careful not to discuss responsibility for the accident. This can be difficult, especially if another driver is acting belligerently or accusatorily towards you. Whatever their attitude, do not say “I’m sorry” or “my fault,” or sign any statements besides official police reports. Admissions of guilt, even in passing, can be used against you at a later date. Save your story for law enforcement.

Additionally, you should never offer to pay for damages in cash, and you should not accept this offer from other drivers. If you are not at fault for the accident, avoiding your insurance company doesn’t make sense.

Contact insurance provider and car accident lawyer

Once you’ve talked to the other driver or drivers, it’s time to contact your insurance company. Do this as soon as possible, and relay all relevant facts while they’re still fresh in your mind.

If you believe you may require the services of a car accident lawyer, contact them promptly as well. Personal injury lawsuits can take time to litigate; the sooner your lawyer gets started, the sooner you will be compensated for your injuries.