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What To Do If You’re In A Car Accident: 8 Steps to Safety

Last updated: May 29, 2021
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What To Do If You're In A Car Accident: 8 Steps To Safety

You can never really foresee a car crash. It can happen even to the best drivers out there. When you’re in a car accident, you’ll want to be prepared, no matter if you caused it or not. Even if it’s a minor accident, being prepared can remove at least a smidge of stress away from the entire situation. Here are a couple of steps on what to do if you’re in a car accident. Make sure that everything runs smoothly after the accident. 

What To Do If You’re In A Car Accident: Steps to take after a car crash

What To Do If You're In A Car Accident: Car Crash

Step 1: Check yourself for injuries.

If you’re injured and need medical care, call 911 or seek help at the nearest hospital or urgent care. It’s important to know what to do in a car crash, even if you’re not seriously injured.

Step 2: Check the well-being of your passengers.

If you’re not too hurt to move, check on the other passengers in your car. If anyone’s injured, get on the phone with emergency services or ask a bystander to call for help. Otherwise, get out of your vehicle and immediately call 911.

Step 3: Get to safety.

If you’re able, move to the side of the road or a sidewalk. If your car isn’t safe to drive and it’s causing a hazard where it is, leave it exactly where it is and get yourself to safety.

Step 4: Call 911.

Calling the police is important after an accident—and in some states, it’s legally required. The responding officers will document the damage for you and complete an accident report.

If you are involved in an accident, the police won’t attend the scene. You can complete a simple incident report at the nearest police station and, if required, a copy of this will be used to help process your claim.

Step 5: Wait for help.

Turn off your vehicle, turn on your hazard lights and use the road flares in your emergency car kit to warn other vehicles of a dangerous situation.  Turn off your engine, turn on your hazard lights and use the road flares in your car emergency kit to warn other vehicles to slow down.

Step 6: Exchange information.

Make sure to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver after a car crash. 

Here’s the most important information drivers should exchange after an accident:

Step 7: Document the accident.

In order to help protect yourself, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recommends taking the following steps:

  • Identify the officers.
  • Get a copy of the accident report
  • Take pictures.
  • Takedown names.
  • Talk to witnesses.

Step 8: Notify your insurer and start the claims process.

You may want to call your insurance agent while you’re at the scene of the car crash. 

That way, they can tell you exactly what they will need from you in order to process your claim and what to expect during that process.

An accident can leave even the most seasoned driver frazzled.

Following these steps may help protect you from unnecessary worries so you can focus on working with your insurance company to get your vehicle repaired as smoothly and as quickly as possible.


Key things to remember

Contact the Police

What To Do If You're In A Car Accident: Call 911

It is important to make sure there is a legal accident report after a minor car crash.

Limit Your Conversation about the Accident with the Other Party

You should only talk about the accident with the police, medical professionals, and your insurance representative. It is important to limit your discussion of the accident and not to admit any fault or liability.

Get the Facts of Your Car Accident

Getting the facts of an accident is the part most people know but often forget due to the stress of being in a car accident. Sometimes, details about what happened can get lost in translation when it comes to communicating with insurance companies.

Car Accident Information Checklist

Here’s the information you will need to file a proper claim after you’ve been involved in a car crash.

  • Information about what happened
  • Information about the driver
  • Information for insurance

Car Accident Form

The best way to be prepared for a car crash is to get a car crash form from your local DMV or police station.

The form you need to file a claim differs from state to state, so it’s best to get one early. The last thing you want is to be filling out paperwork when you could be recovering from an injury.

List of Information to Collect About the Driver

  • Name of Driver
  • Address of Driver
  • Phone number or other contact information 

Information from the Other Driver’s Insurance Company 

You need the other driver’s identification info which you can get from their proof of insurance card. The 2 most important things are :

  • insurance company name
  • insurance company policy number

Information from Other Car Involved in the Accident

  • Vehicle Description, Make, Model and Year – Consider taking photos for your own record if it is possible.
  • Vehicle registration information
  • License plate number

List of Information to Collect About the Car Accident or Collision

  • Date of the Accident
  • Time of the Accident
  • Address of the accident
  • The road you are on
  • The nearest cross street
  • The direction you were traveling in
  • The direction the other car was traveling in 
  • Take photos from a few angles or sketch a diagram of the crash scene
  • What happened 
  • Any notes regarding the driving conditions
    • the weather
    • visibility
  • Any witnesses names and contact information
  • The name, badge number, and contact information for any police officer who comes to the accident

Talk to an Attorney About Your Auto Accident Claim

A car crash can turn your day upside down. Handling even a minor fender bender can be time-consuming. The experienced car accident attorney can help you with the heavy lifting involved in processing your claim.

What Should Not Be Included In Your Accident Report?

You should never discuss fault with the other party or parties involved. The details of how you feel or what you were doing are not very important to us.

Even if you feel like you did something wrong, do not accept responsibility or indicate responsibility for your actions.

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