What to Do After an Auto Accident

By Peter DePaolis

Taking The Right Steps After A Car Accident in Washington, D.C.


If you are involved in a car accident, whether it was a minor fender bender, a collision caused by driver error or if a family member has passed away in a fatal car accident, it is crucial that you understand what your next steps should be and ensure you receive proper medical care. Knowing what to do after an accident involving a car, commercial truck, bicycle, motorcycle or pedestrian can also help prepare you to file a personal injury lawsuit should the accident be the fault of a negligent motorist.

Our law firm provides this page of information to assist in your understanding of the most helpful steps to take before and following a car accident in DC or the surrounding areas of Maryland and Virginia.

For more than 30 years, our personal injury law firm has recovered significant financial recoveries for our clients. If you need answers to what you should do after an accident, one of our attorneys can sit down with you to talk about the circumstances of your accident and discuss if you have a possible personal injury claim against the driver at fault.

Our lawyers are ready to gain the compensation you deserve at no financial risk to you with our contingency fee agreements. If we are not successful is obtaining a monetary award on your behalf, you pay absolutely no legal costs.

What Should I Do after a Car Accident?

The first and most important step if you have been involved in an auto accident is to check for any car accident injury. If you are seriously injured or unsure of the extent of your injuries, you should immediately call 911 and request an ambulance. If you are not injured, you should check to see if any other drivers or passengers are injured.

If no one is seriously injured, you should move your vehicles to a safe place out of the path of moving traffic and:

  • Turn on hazard lights or use flares to ensure that oncoming traffic can see the vehicles involved
  • Notify the police of the accident, even if it seems to be minor
  • Take photographs of the accident if you have a camera available

Another important step to take after an accident is to gather as much information as possible at the accident scene, which can help in reporting the accident claim to the involved insurance companies and in filing a personal injury claim against a careless driver, such as:

  • The location, date and time of the accident
  • The names and contact information of all parties involved, including witnesses
  • The make and model of all cars involved
  • Any personal injuries sustained in the car accident
  • Insurance information for the other driver(s) involved in the accident

Following these steps will ensure that you have collected all the necessary information about the accident and will be able to recall the details of the accident accurately. If the other driver acted or may have acted negligently prior to the accident, you should bring the information that you recorded to a lawyer near you to learn more about your legal rights.

If a car accident caused the wrongful death of a loved one, bring as much information you are able to gather and discuss how your family may be able to hold the at fault driver accountable.

How to Prepare for an Auto Accident

Any type of car accident can leave you shaken up, and it can be difficult to remember what you are supposed to do immediately following a collision. Preparing for the possibility of your involvement in a car accident before it happens may help make the actual traumatic event a bit less stressful and prove invaluable if you later decide to take legal action.

Prior to driving your vehicle, you may want to make sure you have certain items in your car that can help after an accident as well as take some precautionary measures to help ensure your safety in a car accident. This includes:

  • Make a roadside emergency kit by placing a set of cones, warning triangles or emergency flares in your car to ensure that you are able to warn other drivers of your accident.
  • Carry a pen, pad of paper and card with relevant medical information in your glove compartment.
  • Buckle your seat belt and make sure that your passengers are also wearing their seat belts.
  • Allow extra time to arrive at your destination, so that you do not feel pressured into speeding, engaging in other aggressive driving behavior and to reduce the chance of your involvement in a driver error accident.
  • Other important preventative measures to take before an accident includes remedying any known safety recalls of your vehicle, providing proper car maintenance and regularly checking your vehicle to ensure it is in proper working condition prior to being driven. Read our resource page about car defects causing accidents for more information about the dangers of faulty vehicle manufacturing and designs.

Following these steps can help you avoid an auto accident, as well as ensure you are prepared if an accident does occur.

Need Legal Help after a Car Accident? Call Us!

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Washington, D.C. area auto accident, it is important to contact an attorney who can assist you in pursuing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit as soon as possible. Timing matters after an accident to preserve necessary evidence that can otherwise be lost.

If you are in need of assistance, call a lawyer at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P. Our lawyers are available to answer any questions you may have about accidents that occur in or around the District of Columbia. Contact our personal injury law firm by filling out a free claim review form or by calling our law office nearest you today.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.