If you’ve ever been in a car accident before, it’s not hard to imagine the fear that comes with being hit by an oncoming car– the smashing of glass, crushing of metal and jostling of passengers can be traumatic enough even in a minor accident.

Even worse, a car accident that you were the victim of can turn into a living nightmare should you not be able to prove fault on the other driver’s side. Dealing with police, insurance companies, and disgruntled drivers can be overwhelming, especially after an accident that leaves you shaken up. The last thing you want is to be blamed for it.

Before you pay out of pocket after a car accident, know your rights when it comes to proving fault. We all know at least one person who has had to pay for an accident they were a victim of, don’t be one of them.

Collect evidence

You may not be thinking clearly after an accident, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep your wits about you if you haven’t been injured. If you are injured, seek medical attention before taking any of these steps.

If you aren’t injured however, collecting evidence is the first and most important step in proving fault. It’s always more thorough and safer to call the police should your car be damaged or someone is injured. A police report will be vital to your case.

Try to preserve the exact moment of the accident in your memory so you have a detailed statement. Better still, you should have witnesses to the accident that will provide an unbiased account of what occurred. Be sure to get their contact information and ask if they are willing to provide a verbal statement to the police and for your insurance claim.

Photograph the scene and the damage to the vehicles involved. Having physical proof of immediate damages and the scene in which it took place, like where street signs or traffic lights were located during the crash, will help you in a major way later.

Get a second opinion on damage costs

Insurance companies have their own methods of assessing damage, but they usually don’t favor the vehicle’s owner. Instead of just accepting the insurance companies’ figures, get a second or even third opinion about what these damages will realistically cost to fix.

Don’t be scared to follow up with your claim, insurance companies are often inundated with claims and you likely won’t be their first priority. Don’t forget to be kind.

Get a lawyer

If all else fails, you may need a lawyer, one like Baumgartner Law Firm, to prove the fault of the other driver or to make sure that you aren’t being shaken down by an insurance company. Though hiring a lawyer might be costly, it could save you money in the long run.

Take the time to freak out after an accident, but remain calm enough to remember what steps you can take to protect yourself from any further financial or psychological damages.

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