Car accidents happen, especially if you are the safest driver out there. Unfortunately, there are other motorists out on the roadway who are not safe on the road. Distracted while driving, texting on their phone, driving under the influence, speeding, and not paying attention. The scenario where you didn’t see the car accident coming is what you didn’t have planned. What do you do if you have been in a car accident?
What to Do After a Car Accident Has Occurred
If you have been involved in a car accident, you can review the car accident checklist below. This will help you get through important steps you should take right away for your safety and for items that may be needed later on from the vehicle accident.
Car Accident Checklist
1 – Check Yourself for Possible Injuries
Check and make sure you are not injured from the car accident. If you are injured, call 911 and ask for help. If other people are nearby, ask for help from them. Try to not move until emergency responders show up at the scene to help you. However, if the vehicle smells like fuel, smoking, or is on fire, then move to a safer location.
2 – Check your passengers for possible injuries
Check and make sure your passengers are ok. If one of your passengers is injured, call 911 and let them know you were in a car accident and you have an injured passenger in the vehicle. Try to not move the passengers, but make them comfortable until emergency responders arrive. If the vehicle is leaking fuel, catching on fire or smoking, then have your injured passenger(s) get out of the vehicle and move away. If people are nearby, ask for help.
3 – Move to a safe area from the accident
If the vehicle is leaking fuel, smoking, or if it has caught on fire; it’s important to move away from the vehicle for your safety and your passengers (if any). Move away from the road and onto the sidewalk.
4 – Call 911 for help
As mentioned earlier, make sure you call 911 to at least report the accident. A police officer will show up and an accident report will be filled out and the accident scene will be documented in the police report. In some situations, the police might not show up or deny your request if it is on private property. You can still go to the police station and have a report filled out. This will help your insurance claim and your attorney if there are any injuries and major property damage.
5 – Wait for the emergency responders and police
If you’re not in any immediate danger, you can stay in your vehicle and wait for emergency responders and help. If you have a first aid kit and road flares, you can use those to attend the situation. Make sure you also push your hazard lights button so other drivers can see your vehicle. This will also help the police and emergency crew spot your vehicle.
6 – Exchange Driver Information
Whenever you are involved in a car accident, it’s very important that you get all of the information about the people and vehicles involved. If possible, write down with a pen and paper, or on your mobile phone the following information from the other driver(s):
- Driver’s License Information
- Insurance Information and Policy Number
- Vehicle Registration Card
- Name of the person involved in the accident
- Phone Number
- The exact location of the accident, street names, and address.
- Vehicle License Plate
- Vehicle Year, Make, Model, Color
- VIN number of the vehicle. Usually on the lower left front windshield and/or on the inside of the driver’s door.
- Witness Information (Any witnesses that saw the accident)
Use your mobile phone to take photos of all the information if it helps speed up the process. Sometimes the other drivers will try to not give you any information, so it’s important to act fast and snap photos of as much information as possible, such as the vehicle license plate, VIN number on the bottom left front windshield, etc.
7 – Take Photos and Video of the Vehicle Accident
Take as many photos you can of the accident scene from different angles and get all of the vehicles involved. You can also document video of the accident scene as it can help describe the scene. If you have a dashcam, then this can help determine who is at fault and will help prevent any false claims that someone might make on how the accident happened. Save all of the video data and keep it for your insurance company and your attorney.
What photos should I take of the car accident scene?
Take photos and videos of everything from the car accident scene. Many of these include:
- Each vehicle involved in the car crash
- The damages areas of each vehicle
- Vehicle license plates and VIN number (if possible)
- The other person’s Driver’s License ID
- Skid marks on the road. (Take different photo angles of the skid marks.)
- The surrounding area, which can include the weather if it’s raining, snow, ice, visibility (fog), sun glare, etc.
8 – Do Not Talk About the Accident
Only discuss the car accident with the police when they arrive on the scene. Here are a few DO NOT practices you should adhere to at a vehicle accident scene:
- Do not talk with the other drivers, other than making sure they are ok and exchanging information.
- Do not talk to people that witnessed the accident, other than getting their information (name and phone number).
- Don’t make a scene at the accident. It may have been the other driver’s fault, but don’t let your emotions and anger explode at the scene, as this can work against your case. Whatever you say at the scene can be used against you by the other driver’s insurance company and can negatively impact your claim.
- Do not talk if the other driver is recording you at the accident scene. Ask them to please stop recording so you can exchange information. Don’t answer their questions if they are recording.
- Do not post anything on social media about your accident, as it can be used against you from the other driver’s attorney and their insurance company.
9 – Do Not Admit Fault
Do not discuss the accident with the other driver(s). Only ask for their Driver’s License ID, Insurance Card, and Vehicle Registration information so you can write it down or take photos of them. It’s important you do not admit fault at the scene and do not blame the other driver. Only discuss these details with the police officer on the scene, your insurance company, and your attorney.
10 – Document the Vehicle Accident
As mentioned earlier, document the entire vehicle accident with photos, video and take notes of everything you can remember about the accident. It’s important to be as detailed as possible about the accident, as you can forget later on about what happened. Record the date, time, and location of the accident as well. If you have a dash cam on your vehicle, save the SD memory card immediately so it does not get overwritten.
11 – Get Witnesses’ Information
Ask people at the car accident scene if they witnessed the accident. If they did witness it, then ask them for their name and phone number so you can have others authenticate the story of how the accident happened.
12 – Go to the Hospital and get a Medical Exam from the Accident
You should have a doctor give you a medical exam to review your body for any injuries and overall health after the accident. This should be done the same day if possible.
13 – Let your Insurance Know there was an Accident
Call your insurance company and let them know you have just been involved in an accident. They will ask you to send them all of the information you gathered at the accident scene. Your insurance company will also help you if you have any questions. Keep all of the paperwork in one folder for documentation, as your lawyer will need to review the car accident information.
Common Questions After a Car Crash
There are many questions that will be spinning through your head after a car crash. We have covered many angles of what to do after a car accident has occurred. It’s important that you run through the car accident checklist above and try to gather as much information as possible at the scene. Below are some additional questions you may have after a car accident has occurred.
What to do if you have been injured in a vehicle accident
If you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident, you should call 911 and have a police report filled out. If you are seriously injured, then you should have emergency responders attend to your injuries at the scene and at the hospital. It is important that you go to the hospital the same day to have doctors attend to your injuries from the accident. Before you leave the scene, try to get witness information with names and phone numbers to contact. Make sure you document your injuries and medical treatment in detail. Only share the vehicle accident details and your injuries with your insurance company and your attorney. Your insurance company and lawyer will let you know what to do for the next steps.
Should You Get an Attorney After the Vehicle Accident?
If you have been injured from a vehicle accident and it has impacted your work, daily quality of life, and caused you pain and suffering, then talk with an attorney about your car accident case. Insurance companies will also try to minimize the payouts for car accident victims and property damage. This is where a car accident attorney will work in your favor to get you the correct amount you deserve.
What to do if Someone Dies in a Car Accident
Car accidents can turn into very bad wrecks that can involve serious injuries and death. This is a very rare and traumatic event and it is important that you check on all of the people involved in the car accident to see if they are ok. Make sure you document everything at the accident scene and run through the car accident checklist at the top of the page. A wrongful death claim can be filed, so make sure you consult with an attorney about the car accident and accidental death.
How Long After a Car Accident Can I Claim Personal Injury?
For the State of California and the State of Nevada, it is two years for the statute of limitations for a personal injury car from a car accident. The clock will start ticking the moment you had a car accident. Property damage has a three year limit for the statute of limitations in California and Nevada.
Finding the Best Car Accident Lawyer
With all of the car accident attorneys out there, it can be difficult to find the best car accident lawyer for your case. There are a few things you can do to help narrow down the best car accident attorney that includes:
- Ask a friend if they know a personal injury attorney for car accidents (Referral)
- Do a free consultation with an attorney to see if the could help you in your case
- Review the attorney’s website and see what type of cases they take and view their team of attorneys
- Attorneys that take their cases to trial will get you a better settlement
- Ask the lawyer about their experience with car accident cases
- And most importantly, the best car accident attorney is one you can comfortably communicate with to help you with your case.