What Should You Do Immediately After a Car Accident?

Clayton T. Hasbrook

Written by Clayton T. Hasbrook. Last modified on February 1, 2024

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What should you do immediately after a car accident

A car accident, no matter how minor, can be confusing and stressful. Understanding the steps to take is crucial for protecting your legal rights. Your actions right after the crash can impact any insurance claims or legal proceedings that follow. At Hasbrook & Hasbrook, we are here to guide you through what to do immediately after a car accident.

Staying calm and focused is essential despite the chaos that might ensue. By following a structured approach, you can adeptly manage the situation. Do you file an insurance claim with the other driver’s insurance company? How will your car insurance company respond to the accident report? How can you get enough money for your medical bills?

Learn what to do after car accidents below. Then, contact us for help with the auto insurance claim process. We may need to file a personal injury claim to help you get the compensation you deserve.

Assess Your Safety and Health After the Accident

First, check if you or any passengers are injured. If anyone is hurt, try to stay still and wait for medical help. Move your car to a safe area if it’s causing a hazard in the road, and it’s safe to do so. Always prioritize your immediate safety and health. You should pause to check for injuries, as they might not always be apparent.

In some cases, injuries might not show up right away. Shock and adrenaline can cover up pain and injuries. It’s important to monitor your physical condition closely in the moments following a car accident. If in doubt, it’s always safer to seek medical attention. See a doctor after the accident to make sure that nothing is missed.

Contact Emergency Services

Contact emergency services

Call 911 immediately, particularly in the case of injuries or significant damage. The operator will request information about your current location and details about the car accident. They’ll dispatch police and, if necessary, medical services to your location. This step is vital for ensuring everyone’s safety and is often legally required.

When the police arrive, they’ll secure the area and make an initial assessment. They’ll also create a police report, which is important for insurance and legal purposes. Be honest and provide the facts, but avoid admitting fault or assigning blame at this stage. You need to protect yourself as well, and you’ll need a copy of the police report later.

Document the Accident Scene and Gather Evidence

Gathering evidence starts immediately after the accident. This includes taking pictures and getting the contact information of any witnesses. The more information you can provide, the better it will be for your case.

Take Photos of the Accident Scene

Take photos of the accident scene

Take photos from different angles showing the entire scene, including all vehicles involved, road signs, and traffic signals. Photograph any visible damage to your vehicle and other vehicles. These photos can provide crucial evidence for insurance claims and legal proceedings.

Capture the wider context of the accident. This includes road conditions, skid marks, and any obstacles or debris. These details can be critical in reconstructing how the accident occurred and determining the fault. You need to make sure that you store these photos in a location where you can easily find them later.

Collect Contact Information of Witnesses

If there are witnesses, get their names and contact data. Witnesses can offer an objective account of the crash, which can be invaluable in legal and insurance matters. Make sure to approach them politely and thank them for their assistance.

Ask witnesses if they would be willing to provide a written statement. If they agree, have them write down what they saw as soon as possible while the details are still fresh. Keep these statements with your accident records.

Note Down Environmental Conditions

Record the weather, lighting, and road conditions at the time of the accident. For example, note if it was raining, if the road was slippery, or if there were any visual obstructions. These factors can influence the understanding of how the accident occurred.

Note any unusual circumstances, like road construction, detours, or malfunctioning traffic signals. These details can sometimes explain contributing factors to the accident that are not immediately obvious. You never know what might be important for your insurance claim down the road.

Exchange Information With the Other Driver

Be sure to collect the other drivers’ contact information and insurance information. Be polite and cooperative, but avoid discussing the fault or details of the accident. This information is essential for insurance claims and potential legal action.

Note down the make, model, and license plate number of the other vehicle(s) involved. If the other driver is uncooperative or refuses to provide information, wait for the police to handle it. Avoid getting into a confrontation.

Notify Your Insurance Company About the Accident

Notify your insurance company about the accident

Reach out to your insurance company as soon as possible to report the collision. Provide them with all the information and evidence you have gathered. They will guide you through the claim-filing process. The report may include the vehicle identification number of the other vehicle involved, which can be helpful in making sure the details are accurate.

Remember that your insurance company will reach out and ask for more information. Make sure you save this documentation. This will help in processing your claim efficiently. They could even use your insurance information to help you secure a rental car as the process unfolds.

Seek Medical Attention Even If Injuries Are Not Apparent

Even if you feel fine, seeking a medical check-up after an accident is wise. Some injuries, like whiplash, may not be immediately noticeable. You need to see a doctor, even if you feel fine. Make sure to request a copy of your medical records, as you might need them to support your claim.

Document Your Injuries and Medical Treatment

Document your injuries and medical treatment

Be sure to save information from your visits to your medical professionals, including bills, invoices, and medical records. Anything your medical professionals say should go in the folder. These crucial are essential for insurance claims and potential legal action.

Keep a journal of your recovery process. Note any pain, discomfort, limitations, or progress you experience. This personal record can be valuable in demonstrating the impact of the accident on your life.

Keep Records of Medical Expenses

Document all expenses related to your medical care, including bills, receipts, and insurance statements. These financial records are crucial for insurance claims and potential compensation in legal cases. Make sure to include any out-of-pocket expenses like travel costs to medical appointments.

Tack any lost wages or income. This could be due to time off work for your injuries. You may have to miss work for your medical appointments as well. This financial impact is an important part of your overall claim. Keep a detailed record of any lost work hours and the associated financial loss.

Follow Up With Medical Professionals as Needed

Regular follow-up visits are crucial to make sure you track your recovery. They also provide ongoing documentation of your injuries and their impact. Keep your insurance company and lawyer updated on your medical status.

Be proactive in your recovery. Attend all recommended therapy sessions, follow medical advice, and keep all appointments. This demonstrates your commitment to recovering and provides ongoing evidence of the impact of the accident.

File a Police Report for the Accident

Filing a police report is often legally required, especially in accidents with injuries or significant damage. Contact the local police department to ensure a report is filed. The document serves as a key record and is crucial for both insurance and legal matters.

Be sure to ask for a copy of the police report. Save it for your records. Review it for accuracy and completeness. If there are any errors or missing information, contact the police department to request a correction or addition. The insurance adjuster might need this information as well.

Reach Out To a Car Accident Attorney for Legal Advice

If you’re involved in a car accident, it’s wise to consult with an attorney. Some of the ways a lawyer can help you include:

  • Evaluate Your Case: A lawyer can assess your case. Legal counsel from your personal injury attorney will provide advice on your rights and options.
  • Negotiate With Insurance Companies: Lawyers have expertise in negotiating with insurance companies to ensure you receive equitable compensation.
  • Handle Legal Paperwork: They can handle all the legal paperwork and procedures, reducing your stress and confusion.
  • Represent You in Court: If your case goes to court, an attorney will represent you and argue on your behalf.
  • Maximize Compensation: They work to maximize the compensation. You deserve to be compensated financially for the injuries and property damage you suffered.
  • Offer Peace of Mind: Having legal representation offers peace of mind, knowing your case is in experienced hands.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Car Accident Lawyer at Hasbrook & Hasbrook

Schedule a free consultation with our car accident lawyer at Hasbrook & Hasbrook

If you’ve been in a car accident, the team at Hasbrook & Hasbrook is here to help. We understand the challenges you face and are committed to supporting you through every step of the process. Our experienced car accident lawyers offer personalized, compassionate legal assistance. We are here to make sure your rights are protected.

Contact Hasbrook & Hasbrook for a free consultation. We’ll evaluate your case, advise you on the best course of action, and fight for the compensation you deserve.

What Should You Do Immediately After a Car Accident? Resources

We serve people who have been injured or wronged by the actions of others. As personal injury attorneys, we choose to represent people instead of corporations and insurance companies.


This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Clayton T. Hasbrook who has years of legal experience as a personal injury lawyer. Our last modified date shows when this page was last reviewed.