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What to do after a car accident if you don't speak English

Car accidents are frightening, there's no way around it. They happen quickly and can be disorienting.

Knowing what to do at the scene of an accident is difficult enough. When you are fluent in anything but English, talking with other drivers or law enforcement can be difficult.

To ensure you are treated fairly after a car accident, here are a few things you can do if you aren't a strong English speaker:

  • Find a willing interpreter. This can be a relative, spouse or friend: someone you trust who is willing to meet you at the accident scene or talk to you over the phone. This person can help you understand what the other driver and law enforcement are saying.
  • Take lots of pictures. You may not be able to give a statement to law enforcement if there is no interpreter. However photo evidence can go a long way in supporting your version of events. Don't be afraid to use your phone to take pictures.
  • Don't sign any documents unless you understand them. If the other driver wants you to sign something, wait until someone can tell you what the paper says. Don't let them rush you into signing anything. Never sign a document until you are absolutely sure of what it says.
  • Stay calm. An accident itself can be a frustrating experience--made even more so if you can't communicate your side of the event. Don't get frustrated. Stay calm and wait for someone who can interpret for you.

Phoenix is one of the best places in the world to drive, but unfortunately even the best places have accidents. Make sure you are prepared in case the worst happens.

If you have been injured in a car accident and feel that you have been treated unfairly or tricked, please seek legal help as soon as possible.

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