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What to do after a car accident to protect your rights

There are over six million car accidents each year in this country and, fortunately, most of them are minor. Yet, about one-third of car accidents involve personal injury to either the driver or passengers. Out of those numbers, about two in every ten accidents lead to a fatal injury.

Accidents can be both serious and costly so there are certain things that you'll want to do to protect your interests if you're involved in a crash. The following is a list of the most important things that you need to do after a car accident to protect yourself and your rights.

Stay at the scene of the crash

Never leave the scene of an accident, even a minor one. This is against the law and will only hurt your case. It doesn't matter if you were at fault or not or have someplace important to be, stay put until all formalities are handled.

Report the accident

Even if there are no serious injuries, it's a good idea to notify the authorities when there is an accident. This is the best way to get a police report and accurate account of the accident, vehicle damage, and other events for your insurance claim. Vehicles should remain in place until the police arrive unless they are interfering with traffic.

Stay safe

Whether it is dark, foul weather, or a busy road, you'll want to prevent further accidents by protecting the accident scene. Flares are a great way to do this as are the use of emergency flashers. It is also important to stay in a safe area while waiting for the police to arrive.

Document the crash and any injuries

When the police reach the accident scene, explain what happened to the officer. Leave out guesswork and stick to just the facts. If asked whether or not you are injured, it's best to say that you aren't sure rather than "no" as soreness and injuries can take hours or days to manifest after a collision. If you have a camera or cell phone, take as many pictures of the accident scene as you can. Also, photograph any injuries.

Notify your insurance company

Your insurance company will want prompt notification of the accident, preferably within 24 hours. Provide all of the contact information that you obtained at the accident scene.

At some point, there will be a determination of negligence for your claim. This can impact the coverage you can receive to help pay for medical expenses, lost wages and property damage. To protect yourself and your future, it is best to consult a personal injury attorney to help you through this process.

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