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After the Accident - What To Do In 8 Steps

A car accident can leave you in shock, feeling disoriented and uncertain of how to proceed.  People may be injured, and emotions may be tense and running high.  However, there are still things that need to be done in the wake of an accident.  If you are capable, the following steps will help expedite recovery.

1 - Stay at the scene

Never leave the scene of an accident, even if it seems like a small one.  First of all, if you leave preemptively you have no way of being sure that you know the extent of the damage or injuries to all parties.  Secondly, leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offense known as a “hit-and-run”.  Vehicles involved in the accident should stay as they are unless completely blocking traffic or until you are cleared to move by local law enforcement.

2 - Check on all drivers and passengers

If you have the mobility to do so, check on everyone and make sure they’re okay.  If anyone reports an injury, call 911.  Even if it seems minor.  A sore back or a spot of dizziness could be the sign of a much graver injury that just hasn’t set in yet, due to shock or any other number of reasons.  All injured parties should be checked out by a medical professional.

3 - Notify the police

Assuming you did not call 911 due to injuries, your next step should be to notify the police.  Do this even if it is a minor accident.  Failure to report an accident is an infraction that at the very least can see you fined.  Additionally, your insurance company may require a police report in order to file any of your claims.  When the police arrive, tell them concisely and without speculation what happened.  Stick to what you did and what you saw, not what you think anyone else involved in the accident did.  If you are asked if you are injured and you aren’t sure, say “I’m not sure” rather than “no”.  Be honest, and don’t worry about or apologize for any uncertainty.  You may be in shock!

4 - Exchange information

If possible, get the names, numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information from all drivers involved.  Also be sure to get the name and badge numbers of the responding officers, as well as the police report number.  While talking to the other drivers, be sure to be polite and patient, but avoid apologizing or admitting guilt.  In truth, you may not completely know what happened, but saying “I’m sorry I hit you” could potentially be used against you later.

5 - Document the accident

If the camera on your phone is still working, take pictures.  Do so as quickly as possible, provided you can manage this without impeding the police or any emergency responders.  This could be helpful to the insurance claims process.

6 - Contact your insurance company

As soon as you are able, report the accident to your insurance company.  Answer all the questions, be honest and cooperative, and provide the police report number if you have it.  

7 - Keep track of your medical expenses

If you require any medical treatment following the accident, document it.  Make a file of all the paperwork you receive from the hospital or your doctor’s office.

8 - Contact an attorney from the accident scene

If anyone was injured in the course of the accident, you may wish to consider hiring an attorney.  An experienced attorney could help you with recovery if your were injured (or with defense if you were at fault).  For more information go to

While the primary hope is that you will never need this information, should you find yourself in an accident, these eight steps could help a traumatic situation go just a little more smoothly.

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