What Should You Do If You’ve Been in an Accident? – Your Ultimate Car Accident Checklist

When you are involved in a car accident, there are several steps you need to take to ensure everybody is safe, following state law, and getting the insurance claim process started on the right foot. Being involved in a car accident, even a minor one, can be stressful, so it is important to know what needs to be done when one happens.  

At Local Accident Reports, we provide sound legal advice and support for motor vehicle accident victims nationwide. We are dedicated to helping our clients collect the maximum amount of compensation for their damages. 

We offer a free initial consultation, and our lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, so you pay nothing out of pocket unless we win your case. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you after a serious car accident. 

Get to a Safe Location

What Should You Do If You’ve Been in an Accident? - Your Ultimate Car Accident ChecklistIf your car is in a hazardous position that could cause a secondary accident, you need to move it to a safe location. Pull onto the shoulder, the side of the road, or, if possible, a nearby parking lot. After doing so, check to see if any of your passengers were harmed, and then check on the other driver. You might be the only person capable of rendering first aid or preventing a secondary accident until help arrives.  

Do Not Leave the Scene

If you are involved in a traffic accident, most state laws require all involved parties to remain at the scene if any injuries, fatalities, or property damage occur. As obvious as that sounds, hit-and-run accidents take place every day even though they are against the law and carry hefty criminal punishments. Always exercise an abundance of caution by staying at the scene until law enforcement arrives. It is not uncommon for car accident victims to be unaware of the full extent of their injuries, so it is also a good idea to stick around and be evaluated by an emergency responder before leaving the scene.  

Call 911

Always call 911 to report a car accident. Do not assume that the other driver or a bystander has already done so. The other driver may attempt to convince you that the police do not need to be called by mentioning their driving record, insurance premiums, or the fact that both vehicles are still driveable. No matter what they tell you, it is vital to request an officer to the scene in order to protect yourself, your vehicle, and your potential personal injury claim. After investigating, the responding police officer will file an accident report.  Although they vary from state to state, this report will usually include the contact details of every driver involved, as well as the name of their car insurance company and their policy number. The report will also contain the officer’s thoughts on what contributed to the accident, how it occurred, who he believes to be at fault, and any traffic citations that were issued. A police accident report can be an invaluable piece of evidence if you decide to pursue financial compensation for your damages.  

Exchange Information

While you are waiting for the responding officers, all parties involved should exchange their contact details as well as insurance information. In fact, most state laws require drivers to do so before leaving the crash site. Never assume that police can give you this information later because that is not always the case. Even if the responding officer documents the contact details of everyone involved, you will most likely have to wait until the official police accident report is completed to get this information. This can take as long as ten business days. So, in order to expedite the insurance process and for your own peace of mind, take a picture of the other driver’s insurance card and driver’s license if you are able to do so.If the other driver does not have their insurance information readily available, get their vehicle registration information instead.Just to be thorough, you should also document the license plate number, make, and model of the vehicle, along with any other identifying vehicle information. 

Seek Medical Attention

If you experience any pain or physical discomfort after your traffic accident, even something as seemingly trivial as a headache, tinnitus, or lightheadedness, request that paramedics take you to the hospital. After a car accident, it is crucial that you obtain immediate medical care from a qualified attending physician. There are some life-threatening complications, like concussions, bone fractures, and internal bleeding that will not display immediate symptoms but can be identified right away during a trauma assessment at your local emergency room. Further, the chain of medical evidence associated with your injury claim will help prove that you are entitled to financial compensation by creating a paper trail that identifies the mechanism of injury and documents your diagnosis and treatment. Once you are discharged, you should hang on to your medical records, and any notes of bills from your doctor so your attorney can review them at a later date.  

Never Discuss Liability

Even if you suspect that the accident was your fault, never apologize, admit fault, or even discuss what you think happened. Even though it might feel like the right thing to do, it could ultimately have a serious influence on your case. It is the job of the insurance company and the court to determine fault, and it is your attorney’s job to sway them to your side of the argument. So collect the information and evidence that you need and say nothing. 

Gather Evidence

If you can safely do so at the scene, write down a few sentences about what happened while the details are still fresh in your mind. The last thing you want is to forget a crucial piece of evidence that would have gotten you the settlement or award you deserved.  It is a good idea to take pictures or videos of the scene as well, including the positions of the vehicles involved, broken glass, skid marks, deployed airbags, malfunctioning traffic lights, and anything else that may be important later. Videos leave almost no room for interpretation. If a driver involved in the crash was drunk or high, a video of their state at the crash scene could help the responding officer as well as your case. 

Notify Your Insurance Company

Inform your auto insurance company of the accident as soon as possible. Make sure to let the insurance adjuster or claims handler know if you were hurt, even if you are not in a lot of pain at the time. If your policy includes collision benefits, then you should have the choice of having your vehicle inspected and repaired after you file a claim, or you can choose to wait until the other driver’s insurance company accepts fault.Never talk to anyone from the other driver’s insurance company without a legal advocate present. Even if you feel certain that the other driver’s actions caused the crash, insurance adjusters are well-trained in ways to take what you said out of context and use your words against you. Once the adjustor realizes you are not going to talk to them, they may tell you that you are obligated to provide them with a recorded statement. This is a ploy. You are not legally required to tell them anything. After the adjuster contacts you the first time, your attorney will most likely do all the speaking on your behalf from there on out.  

Get a Copy of Your Crash Report 

As discussed earlier, the police crash report is a vital piece of evidence for your benefit. The officer who investigated your accident will draft a report that contains all of the information you need to begin processing your claim. Each police precinct has its own set of rules governing when and how you can pick up or purchase a copy of your crash report. They can usually be collected directly from the issuing agency within ten days of the accident. Most states also have a way to purchase the report online.  

Contact an Attorney

Once an accident happens, local police will respond to the scene and begin an investigation. You will most likely be asked to answer several questions and give an official statement regarding what happened. After law enforcement has cleared you to leave the scene, you need to contact a qualified car accident attorney right away. Once you have spoken with an experienced nationwide personal injury attorney, they will be able to determine if any statements that you made while speaking with the other driver or police were inappropriate and take any necessary action to mitigate any harm that may have been done. This is one reason why working with the right attorney could make a major difference in the outcome of your case.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Accident Attorney 

If you were injured in a car accident, contact the car accident lawyers from Local Accident Reports as soon as possible. We have a proven track record of earning successful case results for our clients. Give us a call at (888) 657-1460 to schedule your free case evaluation and learn what legal course of action our attorneys recommend for your situation.  

Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this accident.

If you or a loved one were injured in this incident, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Having your case evaluated by a lawyer immediately will ensure your rights are protected. The first step is to request a police report, and we can do that for you. 

Contact us today at


to get the help you deserve. 

Local Accident Reports is here to provide you with valuable resources after you have been injured in an accident. In addition to your free police report, you can also schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys right now to find out more about pursuing compensation. If you any have questions at all about your legal rights following an accident, please don't hesitate to call. 

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Note: These posts are created solely for the use of Local Accident Reports. We have not verified the information in these posts as the information is gathered from secondary sources. If you have personal knowledge that the information contained in these posts is inaccurate, please contact Local Accident Reports immediately so we can make the necessary corrections or remove the story.

Disclaimer: We are providing this information to the general public as a resource to use in the event you or a family member are injured in a similar incident. Every effort is put forth to honor the victims of accidents, and hope the information presented helps others avoid the same type of accidents in the future. The photos depicted in these posts are not representative of the actual accident scene. Please contact Local Accident Reports at (888) 657-1460 to be connected with an attorney in your area who will answer any legal questions you may have.

Harvey Barbee is our chief content writer who also has nearly 15 years of experience as a practicing attorney. Combining his skillset as a strong writer along with his in-depth knowledge of the legal system, Harvey uses his talents to write informative pieces for law firms about a variety of topics that affect individuals. He enjoys helping people find creative solutions to their legal problems. When he is not writing or practicing law, Harvey enjoys golf, gardening, and spending time with his family in North Carolina.

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