What to Do After a Car Accident

  1. Call 911
  2. Collect Information
  3. Take Photographs
  4. The Police Report
  5. Initial Medical Treatment
  6. Emergency Room
  7. The Day After

#1 Call 911

After any automobile accident, your first step should be to call 911.  At a minimum, you should report the accident to the police by requesting that the 911 dispatcher send an officer to the scene of the accident.  If you are experiencing significant pain and discomfort, you should also request the paramedics.

#2 Collect Information

Your next step should be to collect the other driver or drivers’ information, assuming that your injuries are not too severe to make this impossible.  Make sure to record their license plate number, driver’s license number, current insurance information, and current contact information.  It doesn’t hurt to collect the information of all of the passengers involved either.  After all, each and every one of them is a potential witness.  Speaking of which, don’t forget the contact information of all other witnesses as well (for example, anyone who stops to offer assistance).  The more information that you can gather the better.

#3 Take Photographs

If you happen to have a camera with you, and your physical condition allows it, take as many pictures of the accident scene as possible.  Be sure to take pictures of the vehicle damage from all angles, including the interior of the vehicle.  If the airbags deployed, take pictures of those as well.  The more pictures you take the better.  If you do not have a camera at the scene, then be sure to take the pictures of the damage to your vehicle as soon as you can afterwards (either at home or at the garage where your vehicle is taken).

#4 The Police Report

When the police arrive, they will ask you to explain your version of events.  Describe as accurately as possible all the events surrounding the accident.  Never admit fault to the officer, however.  Just because an accident might appear to be your fault does not necessarily mean that it is.  The more details you can provide to the officer, however, the more likely he’ll find your account to be credible, so don’t be shy.

After the officer has drafted the police report, please make sure to check it for accuracy.  You would be surprised at how often the reporting officer makes mistakes in drafting the report.  If you discover a problem, point out the error to the officer and kindly ask him to make the appropriate edit.

Even if the police do not come to the scene of the accident, you still need to file a police report.  And the sooner you can go to the police station, the easier it will be to argue that your report is accurate.

#5 Initial Medical Treatment

The next step is to seek medical treatment for your injuries. If the paramedics arrive on the scene, do exactly as instructed by them. If they are of the opinion that you need to go to the emergency room, go immediately. One of the worst things you can do to your case is to ignore the advice of medical professionals. Even if your injuries are not so severe as to require an ambulance escort, if you are feeling any pain or discomfort immediately after the accident, you should go to the emergency room.

#6 Emergency Room

At the emergency room, the doctor will likely examine you and take x-rays to determine the extent of your injuries. The doctor will then make an initial diagnosis and prescribe treatment. Be sure to follow the doctor’s instructions. If the doctor recommends following up with your physician in five days, then be sure to make an appointment immediately and follow up with your physician in five days. If you are instructed to consult a chiropractor, then make an appointment to see a chiropractor, and so on.

#7 The Day After

The day after the accident, you should contact your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company to report the accident. The insurance agent may ask you to provide a recorded statement of your version of events. Politely decline any such requests until you have had an opportunity to consult an attorney.

You may feel alright immediately after the accident, but wake up the next day feeling pain and discomfort. If so, see your own doctor as soon as you can.

Next you should contact an attorney. The attorneys’ job will be to deal with the insurance company, so that you can focus all of your energy on treating your injuries.

We make no promises or representations about the accuracy of this information, or how it applies to your particular case. These articles are designed to give you ideas to consider and discuss with an attorney, but are no substitute for legal advice, and must not be used as such.