What To Do After A Car Accident: 11 Steps To Take (Avoid Lawsuits)

Jose "Jay" Carrillo

After a car accident, there are a lot of things you need to do to make sure everything is taken care of to ensure all your damages are fully covered. You don’t want to be held responsible for damages or even a lawsuit regardless of whether or not you’re at fault.

Having gone through all of this myself recently where the other person nearly got away without any responsibility (even though it was clearly their fault), I put together this comprehensive guide for you so that you can prepare and protect yourself.

For this reason, it’s extremely important that you read this entire article so that you are fully aware of the important steps to take if this ever happens to you. Preparation and being proactive is the key here.

Continue reading to find out more about “what to do after a car accident“, including each and every step in order!

#1 Call 911

If someone has suffered moderate to major injuries in a motor vehicle accident, or they’re seriously injured, it’s important to call 911 as soon as possible. This will ensure that the individual(s) receive the medical attention that they need right away. In some cases, waiting for an ambulance can mean the difference between life and death.

If you do call 911, don’t forget to tell them the location of the accident.

In most cases you won’t need to call 911 but it’s always the very first thing to consider.

#2 Don’t Leave The Scene

Leaving the scene of a car accident is a crime in all 50 states!

If you’re involved in a car accident, you should stay at the scene until the police arrive. If you leave, you could get charged with a hit and run. This is a serious offense that ranges anywhere from a misdemeanor, all the way up to a felony.

#3 Protect The Car Accident Scene

Once you have ensured that everyone involved in the car accident is fine, you need to think about protecting the car accident scene.

Take an initial set of pictures so that the police can see the general arrangement of the cars involved in the car accident in case any of the cars need to be moved. If you have time to take all the pictures you need, you can get this out of the way now.

Then, move your car and others out of the flow of traffic. Once your vehicle is moved, put up a warning sign or flare to warn oncoming drivers of the accident ahead.

If you can’t move your vehicle, turn on your hazard lights. 

#4 Call The Police To Report The Accident

Whatever you do, don’t miss this very important step. Many people don’t realize how important it is to report an accident or car crash, but they fail to do so more than you think. Don’t let this be you . . . and continue below.

If the accident was minor, there are no injuries and the damage to the vehicles appears to be minor, in most cases, you don’t have to call the police.

But (this is a very BIG but), it’s always safer to call the police so that an accident report is filled out in case of legal action. The police will create a car accident report that can be used as evidence in a personal injury claim or lawsuit. The report will also include the names and contact information of any witnesses.

However, if there are injuries or significant damage, then you should call the police so they can file a police report without hesitation.

Once the police arrive, they will take over protecting the scene and will direct traffic around the accident.

#5 Get A Police Car Accident Report

After you’ve been in a car accident, one of the first things you should do is get an accurate police report of the event. This will document what happened and can be used to help support your case if you need to file a claim with your insurance company or take legal action.

To get a police report, you’ll need to file a request with the law enforcement agency that responded to the scene of the accident. Each state has different rules about how to do this, so it’s best to check with your local agency for specific instructions.

In most cases, you’ll be able to submit your request online, by mail or in person. You may also be able to get a copy of the police report at the scene of the accident if the officer on duty is willing to give you one.

Once you have the police report, make sure to keep it in a safe place where you can easily access it later on. This will come in handy if you need to reference it for any reason.

#6 Take Pictures Of The Scene

Be sure to take plenty of pictures of the car accident scene from different angles and take photographs of any property damage to your vehicle. This is especially true if you haven’t taken any pictures of the scene until now.

This will be very important evidence for your auto insurance claim and any legal action that could come about in the near future.

#7 Exchange Car Insurance Information With The Other Driver

After a car accident, it’s important to exchange insurance and driver’s license information with the other driver involved in the accident. The easiest way to do this is to take pictures of the documentation with your cell phone. This will help to ensure that each driver is properly covered by the insurance companies and that the appropriate information is on file in case of any future claims.

For good measure, go ahead and grab the license number off the other vehicle too. It should match their documentation but it’s good to double check since many people drive around with stolen license plates all the time. Plus, it lets the other driver know that you mean business.

Furthermore, if you are clearly not at fault, you can contact the other driver’s auto insurance company and file a claim directly with them. This is the best in order to avoid paying a deductible out of pocket as described below.

Otherwise, you’ll have to file a claim with your auto insurance company and you’re going to have to pay out of pocket for your deductible. Even if you’re not at fault, there is a small chance that your auto insurance company will not be able to recuperate your deductible amount from the other company.

#8 Protect Your Rights And Consult Your Attorney

If you’ve been in a car accident, there are some important steps you should take to protect your rights. Consult your attorney before giving a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company. If you do not have an attorney, consult with an experienced car accident attorney to discuss your legal options and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.

#9 Report The Car Accident To Your Car Insurance Company

It is very important to contact your auto insurance company as soon as possible after an accident. Your insurance company will need to know the details of the accident so that they can begin their investigation and process your car insurance claim. It’s important to be honest with your insurance company, but you should also be aware that anything you say to them could be used against you in the event that you file a lawsuit. As mentioned above, you should avoid giving a statement until you’ve had a chance to speak with an attorney.

#10 Seek Medical Attention Right Away

If you’ve been involved in a car accident, one of the first things you should do is seek medical attention. Even if you feel fine, it’s important to get checked out by a doctor. Some injuries, such as whiplash, may not be immediately apparent. If you don’t seek medical attention right away, you could end up with more serious health problems down the road.

Once you’ve seen a doctor, you should contact your insurance company to start the claims process. You will need to provide them with information about the accident, including when and where it happened, as well as the names and contact information of any witnesses.

If the other driver was at fault for the accident, you may need to contact a lawyer to help you get compensation for your injuries and damages. A lawyer can also help you if the insurance company is not offering a fair settlement.

#11 Keep A File Of All Your Documents

In the event that you are involved in a car accident, it is important to keep a file of all relevant documents. This will ensure that you have everything you need if you need to make a claim or take legal action.

The following documents should be placed in your car accident file:

  1. A copy of the police report.
  2. A copy of your car insurance policy.
  3. A copy or picture of the other person’s car insurance policy.
  4. A copy or picture of the other person’s driver’s license.
  5. Any letters or correspondence from your insurance company.
  6. Any medical records or bills related to the accident.
  7. Any repair estimates or bills for damage to your vehicle.
  8. Any photographs of the accident scene or damage to your vehicle.
  9. Any witness statements.

Editor’s Final Thoughts And Last Words

If you follow the steps above you’ll be fully prepared in case you get into a car accident sometime down the road. Print out this article and put it in your glovebox for future reference.

It could save you from a lawsuit . . .

FAQ’s

What to do after a car accident?

Immediately, after a car accident, there are several steps you should take to ensure your safety, such as gather important information, in order to protect yourself from potential legal issues. See above.

How can I avoid a lawsuit after a car accident?

Read the article above or take a quick look here. To avoid a lawsuit after a car accident, you should follow these steps:

1. Stay calm and assess the situation.

2. Check if anyone is injured and call emergency services if necessary.

3. Move to a safe location and turn on hazard lights.

4. Document the accident by taking photos or videos of the scene, including any damages and injuries.

5. Exchange contact, insurance and vehicle information with the other party involved.

6. File a report with the police and obtain a copy of the accident report.

7. Notify your insurance company and provide them with all the necessary details.

8. Seek legal advice if needed, especially if there are serious injuries or disputes about fault.

9. Cooperate with your insurance company and follow the claims process.

10. Review your auto insurance policy and understand your coverage.

What is an insurance claim?

An insurance claim is a request made to your insurance company to compensate you for damages or injuries resulting from a car accident. It is the formal process of notifying your insurer about the incident and seeking coverage as per the terms of your policy.

How do I file a claim with my insurance company?

To file a claim with your insurance company, you should:

1. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident.

2. Provide them with all the necessary information, including the details of the accident, other party’s information and any injuries or damages sustained.

3. Follow their instructions regarding documentation and evidence required for the claim process.

4. Cooperate with the insurance adjuster assigned to your case and provide any additional information they may request.

5. Keep records of all communication, including emails, phone calls and letters related to your claim.

Do I need to contact an accident attorney?

Whether you need to contact an accident attorney after a car accident depends on the severity of the accident, injuries sustained and potential disputes about fault or compensation. If you are unsure, it is advisable to consult with a car accident attorney to understand your rights and options.

What should I do at the scene of a car accident?

Read the article above or take a quick look here. At the scene of a car accident, you should:

1. Ensure your safety and the safety of others involved.

2. If necessary, call emergency services for medical assistance.

3. Move to a safe location away from traffic and turn on your hazard lights.

4. Document the accident scene by taking photos or videos of the damages and injuries.

5. Exchange contact, insurance and vehicle information with the other party involved.

6. Wait for the police to arrive and file a report. Obtain a copy of the accident report.

7. Do not admit fault or discuss liability at the scene.

How will a car accident affect my insurance rates?

A car accident can potentially affect your insurance rates depending on various factors, including state laws, fault determination, severity of the accident and your insurance company’s policies. It’s best to check with your insurance provider for specific details.

Should I wait for the police before leaving the scene of a car accident?

A: Unless it is unsafe to do so or state law requires you to wait, you can leave the scene of a car accident after taking necessary precautions, documenting the accident, and exchanging information with the other party involved. However, it is generally recommended to wait for the police to arrive and file a report to ensure an accurate documentation of the incident.

What should I do if anyone is injured in a car accident?

If anyone is injured in a car accident, you should:

1. Call emergency services immediately for medical assistance.

2. Do not attempt to provide medical treatment unless you are qualified to do so.

3. Cooperate with emergency responders and provide them with all the necessary information.

4. Notify your insurance company about the injuries and seek guidance on how to proceed with the claim process.

5. If necessary, consult with a personal injury attorney to protect your rights and ensure fair compensation for the injuries.

What steps should I take immediately after a car accident?

Read the article above or take a quick look here. Immediately after a car accident, you should:

1. Assess the situation and ensure your safety.

2. Check if anyone is injured and call for emergency services if needed.

3. Move to a safe location away from traffic.

4. Document the accident scene by taking photos or videos.

5. Exchange contact, insurance and vehicle information with the other party involved.

6. Notify the police and wait for them to arrive to file a report.

7. Obtain a copy of the accident report.

8. Notify your insurance company and initiate the claim process.

9. Seek medical attention if you have any injuries, no matter how minor they may seem.

10. Consult with an accident attorney if necessary.