What To Do Immediately After A Car Accident

No one expects to have a car crash, but more than 6 million people in the U.S. are involved in crashes every year.  Almost one-third of these accidents resulted in injury. In 2001, nearly 42,000 people died on America’s roadways. Clearly, accidents are a part of life in America.   

It’s natural to feel anxious and upset when it happens to you, but knowing what to do can help you stay calm — and make it a lot easier to deal with down the road.

1.     Check the scene for injuries and danger. Safety is your first priority after a crash.  Check for any injuries to yourself or your passengers. Also check your surroundings. Are you hurt? Do you smell smoke? Are you still in heavy traffic? Quickly assess the situation.  

2.     Move to safety and/or call 911. If everyone in your car is okay, move out of possible harm’s way, to the sidewalk or shoulder of the road. If anyone is injured, call 911, turn off your car, turn on your hazard lights and wait for emergency services to come and help.

3.     Call the police. Even if the crash is minor and nobody is hurt, you should call the police right away. The responding officer will ask for your license, registration, insurance and other information. In turn, request the responding officer’s name, badge number and contact information. 

4.     Exchange information from the other parties involved in the crash. That includes each driver’s full name, home address, email address, phone number, driver’s license information, insurance company and policy number, and license plate numbers. You may want to photograph their driver’s license, insurance card, and license plate.  Also, note the relationship of the driver to the owner of the car (if he is not the owner) and the car’s make, model and color. 

5.     Collect witness information. If there are witnesses, get their full names and contact info as well. Far too often, witnesses are just passing by wherever a car accident occurs. Unless you get their contact information, they will disappear into the ether. 

6.     Keep the conversation constructive. Emotions will be running high, but try to keep your cool. It’s not up to you and the other party to figure out who is to blame. Just exchange all the necessary information and allow the insurance companies and attorneys to sort out the rest.


7.     Take photos. Use your cellphone to take pictures of all the vehicles involved in the crash from every angle, showing any damage, as well as where the crash occurred and other relevant evidence at the crash scene, such as road hazards and skid marks. It’s also helpful to take photos of the other vehicle’s license plate and the driver’s license, registration and insurance documents. 

8.     Immediately record what happened. Write down everything you remember about the crash, including time of day, weather, road conditions, location, what the other cars were doing and any other pertinent details. If you don’t have a pen and paper, dictate it into your phone using your notes tool, or send a voice-to-text memo to yourself. That way you’ll be sure to have every detail you might need later.

9.     Double-check yourself for injuries. In all the commotion following a collision, it’s possible to be injured and not realize it. If you later think you’ve been hurt, see your doctor right away. Injuries from car crashes typically become part of your automobile insurance claim.

Car crashes are scary, but being prepared can help you make the best of a bad situation. Since every car accident is different, you should always contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney as soon as possible. After all, the insurance company will not wait to begin its case against you ― so you shouldn’t wait either.

Contact Northwest Women’s Injury Law immediately so we can help you obtain the justice you deserve.  Call us today for your free consultation at (425) 818-5331. You can also contact us at [email protected]. We serve injury victims throughout Western Washington, including those in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, and Tacoma.

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