Each year in the United States there are approximately six million car accidents. If you're one of the unlucky ones, it's important to know which steps to take to protect your own interests and retrieve the appropriate recovery. The legalities surrounding car crashes can be complex, especially if the accident resulted in extensive property damage or personal injuries. Knowing how to best handle the situation starting from the moment the accident occurs can help maximize your odds of a favorable outcome. Follow these steps to protect your legal rights after a car accident.1. Notify the Police
Many drivers make the mistake of simply exchanging information and moving on to save time. Unfortunately, failure to contact the police after a car accident can have costly consequences. The other driver could provide you with false information, making it difficult to get recovery. If the accident is not properly documented by police, you may find that the other driver disputes your claims later on. When you contact the police at the scene, the officer will take your statement and create a police report based on his or her findings. This police report can be useful later on if you decide to make a claim.2. Exchange Car Insurance Information
Before leaving the scene of the accident, you'll want to ensure that you've collected any car insurance information from the other driver. Both yours and the other driver's insurance company will need each other's information to determine who pays for damages sustained in the accident. If you don't have your car insurance information on hand for whatever reason, don't panic. Many times, the police will give you up to 24 hours to bring proof of insurance to the police station before writing a traffic citation.3. Take Photographs
These days, most people carry a cell phone with them at all times. Use this to your advantage by taking photographs of the accident scene directly after the car accident has occurred. If you do not carry a cell phone with you, it's wise to keep a disposable camera in your glove box to be prepared in these types of emergencies. Take photos of both vehicles, including the license plate numbers. It's also wise to take photographs of the nearby streets to pinpoint your location, as well as any property damage that occurred during the car accident.4. Don't Admit Fault
Even if you believe that you were at fault for the collision, it's best not to take complete ownership of the accident. What you do want to do is tell the truth. However, instead of offering your opinion about why you think you may be fault, stick to the facts. For example, if you rear ended another vehicle, you may realize that perhaps you were not paying close enough attention. However, it may come to light that the driver in front of you decided to turn without a signal light or made some other error in judgement that could have contributed to the accident.5. Notify Your Insurance Company
Even if you believe that you were not responsible for the accident, you will want to contact your car insurance company as soon as possible. Getting in touch with your insurance agent and letting him or her know what happened can help ensure a more favorable outcome. When the insurance company is kept up to date with all information regarding your claim, they can better determine liability and ensure that all claims are taken care of right away. While your premiums may go up if you are found responsible, you don't want to wait to contact the insurance company.6. Protect Your Claim
There are a number of things you can do following a car accident to protect your claim. If you were injured in the car accident, one of the most important things you can do is to seek medical attention right away. Don't delay going to the hospital. Even if you think that your injuries are not serious, get checked out by a doctor anyways to determine if you could possibly have any internal injuries or injuries that are more serious than you first thought. Going to the hospital will also result in a trail of medical records which can be useful down the road if you decide to sue the other driver for damages.7. Have Your Vehicle Repaired
Most accidents will result in some extent of damage to your vehicle. While some drivers will fail to get their car repaired and simply pocket the money from the settlement, others choose to have the repairs made. Your insurance company can usually recommend repair shops in your location and may even get a tow truck to the scene to transport your vehicle if it is not drivable. The insurance company should also provide a damage appraisal. You can also find out if you will be responsible for a deductible for repairs.8. Talk to a Lawyer
The final and most important step to take following a car accident is to contact a lawyer. Unless you've been in a lot of vehicle accidents, you probably don't know the proper steps to take after a collision. When you contact an experienced car accident lawyer, you can acquire the guidance needed to navigate the legal system for the best possible outcome. You can also maintain peace of mind knowing a qualified legal expert is on your side.
Hiring a lawyer is especially important if you were seriously injured in the car accident. The last thing you want to do is look for a quick settlement which could leave you with costly medical bills that you may have to pay out of pocket. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you obtain the maximum amount of compensation possible based on your claim. That is important during your recovery period as you heal from your injuries. To learn more about the proper steps to take after a car accident or to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer today.