What to Do Immediately After a Car Accident: A Step-by-Step Guide

By Peter DePaolis

Getting in a car accident is no fun, but there are things that you can do to safeguard your health and make the insurance claim process easier. Here are some tips about what to do immediately after a car accident. This step-by-step guide could help you avoid mistakes in that stressful time.

If you get hurt in a collision that was not your fault, a DC car accident attorney could help you hold the liable party accountable for your injuries and other losses.

1. Evaluate Whether You Are Injured

Try to assess whether you were wounded in the crash before moving around. If you try to move your body or put weight on your legs, you could worsen certain injuries. For example, if you have a fractured vertebra, which is a bone in your neck or back, moving around could cause a jagged piece of the bone to slip and cut the spinal cord, causing paralysis or death. It is best to let emergency personnel evaluate your injuries.

2. See How Your Passengers Are Doing

If you do not have severe wounds, you will want to check on your passengers to see if any of them got hurt. You should call for emergency assistance if there are any injuries.

3. If Appropriate, Move Your Vehicle

You should move your vehicle to the side of the road if the car is obstructing traffic or creating a hazardous situation. If you cannot safely move the car or it is not safe to drive, you will want to leave the car and walk to a safe location to wait for help.

4. Call the Police

Whenever there are any injuries or damage to a vehicle, you will want to call the police to come to the scene of the collision, where they will investigate, take charge of the situation, and write an official crash report. 

It is illegal for any party to leave the scene until the officer releases them to go about their business. If any of the drivers try to flee before the police arrive, try to write down their license plate number and a description of the car.

5. Share Insurance Information with the Other Driver

You should not make small talk with anyone at the site of the wreck, but you do need to exchange contact information and insurance coverage information with the other driver and answer the officer’s questions.

6. Get Evidence of the Accident for Your Claim

If you are able to do so safely, try to get the names and contact details of witnesses. Get the business card of the police officer. Also, take pictures of the accident from multiple angles.

7. Get Medical Attention

You will want to get a medical evaluation right after the collision. Your wounds will heal better with prompt treatment, you can minimize the risk of infection, and your medical records will link your wounds to the car accident.

8. Notify Your Insurance Company

Many automobile insurance companies require their customers to report car accidents the same day that they happened, regardless of who was at fault.

After a car accident, you should always do what makes sense in the situation. These suggestions are merely guideposts. You should feel free to alter them for your circumstances. The next step is to talk with a DC personal injury attorney who can help you pursue financial compensation for your injuries. We offer a free consultation. You can get started today, reach out to our office for help.

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.