The moments after a car accident are often confusing.

You may be dazed and unsure of what just happened. You might be injured and concerned about other passengers in your vehicle. Understanding what to do after a car accident before one occurs can help protect your rights and the rights of your loved ones.

You have to stop, even for a minor accident.

California law dictates that you must stop for an accident. It doesn’t matter if the crash involves another car (moving or parked), a pedestrian, bicyclist, or someone’s property — driving away could result in hit-and-run charges.

Serious accidents can lead to obvious injuries. Injuries from a minor accident may not be immediately apparent. You will likely feel an adrenaline surge after a crash, and this may mask symptoms of injury. Be aware that symptoms can appear days or even weeks after an incident.

Seek medical attention first, even if you don’t feel like you need it.

If you are seriously injured, you will likely be transported to a hospital by ambulance. If you can walk away, you should still consider seeking medical attention. Remember, symptoms may not be immediate. Getting checked out is always a good idea. If you are injured, your doctor can document your injuries and plan a course of treatment.

Consider calling an attorney to protect your rights.

Whether you are at fault or not, lawyers for car accidents can help protect your rights and see that you reach a fair settlement. Look for an experienced attorney who does not require money up front. Choose a law office that will listen to your case first, and that will treat you like family.

The insurance company wants to settle — what do I do?

Be wary when dealing with the insurance companies. Insurance companies have legal teams to protect their bottom line. Their bottom line does not take your health into