When you get into a car accident, a few things will immediately happen to you. The first is that a wave of shock will wash over you. The second is that you will be dazed and confused, wondering what your next steps are. And the third and final thing is you will realize that you don’t exactly know what comes next.

We want to help answer that last point. After a car accident, what, exactly, are you supposed to do? And what behaviors should you avoid?

Let’s begin with the simplest answer: when you get into a car accident, you should remain calm and stay at the scene. This is actually harder than it sounds. It’s impossible to miss the headlines of hit and run drivers colliding with another vehicle and then fleeing the scene of the accident. These people compound their problems: they turn an accident into a criminal investigation. At the same time, if you stay at the scene, you provide valuable resources to other victims of the accident if they are in a medical emergency.

Once you’ve stayed at the scene and checked on everyone involved in the crash, then you should collect evidence – at least as well as you can. This means taking pictures of the accident scene, including the damaged vehicles, the street signs around the scene, the intersection itself (if the wreck happened at an intersection), and so on. You could also talk to witnesses, if there were any.

Once that is all done, you could consult with an attorney if you are considering civil litigation. You should also get in touch with your insurer as soon as possible.