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Protect your rights after a car accident with these essential steps: part two

Earlier this week we discussed some crucial first steps to take if you find yourself involved in a car accident. Once you have ensured the safety of your passengers - and anyone else involved - and called law enforcement officials, you can focus on gathering information for your records and dealing with your insurance company.

The next step is exchanging information with the other driver. Get each driver's name, address, phone number, driver's license number, license plate number and basic insurance information. Also get the names, addresses and phone numbers of any passengers.

Try to be cooperative with the other parties but do not apologize for anything at the scene of the accident. You may unknowingly admit to liability. At a chaotic accident scene, it can be difficult to tell who was at fault, if anyone, and where liability for the accident may lie. Gathering information right away will help you, your insurance company and any investigators piece it together.

While you're exchanging information, try to talk to any witnesses who weren't involved in the accident but may have seen what happened. If you can, ask them if they have seen other accidents in the same area and write down what they tell you. Try to at least get their names and contact information in case they can be helpful to your insurance company.

Taking photos of damage to your car at the scene can also be extremely valuable; often the pictures that play a key role in a subsequent investigation or lawsuit are the ones taken at the scene.

Next, contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Be honest and forthcoming about what happened and cooperate with them. Provide them information such as the police report and take an active role in working with them. Being present and involved will force them to take you seriously.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by someone else's negligence, it is best to consult with an attorney. A lawyer experienced in motor vehicle accident cases can help you navigate insurance claims, pursue appropriate compensation and get your life back on track.

Source: FindLaw.com, "After a Car Accident: First Steps"

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