Steps to Take After a Car Accident

September 12, 2023

A Comprehensive Guide by Brandt & Sherman

Imagine this: You're driving home after a long day, and suddenly – bam! – another car hits you from the side. The shock, confusion, and rush of adrenaline can leave you disoriented. But what you do immediately after a car accident is crucial. For drivers and car owners, here's a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the critical moments following a collision.

1.  Prioritize Safety Above All

Before you think about anything else, ensure that you, your passengers, and other parties involved are safe.

Turn on your hazard lights. This signals to other drivers that there's a problem and they should proceed with caution.

Move off the road. If the cars are still operable and pose a danger in their current position, move them to a safe spot like the shoulder or a nearby parking area.

Stay inside the vehicle if it's unsafe to exit. In areas with high-speed traffic or limited visibility, it might be riskier to step out.

2.  Check for Injuries

Once you're in a safe spot, check yourself for injuries. Even if you feel fine, shock can mask pain. Check on your passengers as well.

If anyone is injured, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

Do not move injured parties unless they're in immediate danger (like if the car is on fire). Unnecessary movement can exacerbate injuries.

3.  Exchange Information

You'll want to exchange some basic information with the other driver(s) involved. Ensure you gather:

 Name and contact details

 Insurance company and policy number  Driver's license and license plate number  Type, color, and model of the vehicle

 Location of the accident

While emotions might be running high, it's crucial to remain calm and avoid blaming or arguing. Your main goal is to gather the necessary information.

4.  Contact the Authorities

Even if the accident seems minor, it's a good idea to report it to the police. Here's why:

Official record: A police report provides an objective record of the incident, which can be invaluable during insurance claims or potential legal actions.

Legal obligations: In some jurisdictions, you're legally required to report accidents, especially if they involve injuries.

When the police arrive, provide a clear, factual account of what happened. Avoid speculating or placing blame.

5.  Document the Scene

In our digital age, almost everyone has a smartphone. Use yours to document the accident.

Take photos: Capture multiple angles of the damaged vehicles, license plates, and any injuries. Also, photograph the overall scene, including traffic signs, signals, and any skid marks.

Look for witnesses: If anyone saw the accident, take down their contact details. Their account can provide an additional perspective if needed later.

6.  Seek Medical Attention

As mentioned earlier, the shock from an accident can mask injuries. After the immediate aftermath:

Visit a doctor or an emergency room. They can check for injuries that aren't immediately visible, like concussions or internal bleeding.

Document everything. If you need treatment, keep records of all medical reports, bills, and prescriptions. This documentation is vital if you later decide to seek compensation.

7.  Notify Your Insurance Company

As soon as you can, inform your insurance company about the accident.

Provide all gathered information: This includes the details you exchanged with the other driver, photos, witness contacts, and the police report.

Stay honest and factual: Stick to the facts, and don't admit fault, even if you believe you were responsible. Let the insurance investigators do their job.

8.  Monitor Your Health and Vehicle Repairs

In the days and weeks following the accident:

Pay attention to your well-being. Some injuries, like whiplash, don't manifest immediately. Get your vehicle assessed. Even if the damage seems cosmetic, there could be underlying issues.


Car accidents can be distressing, but knowing the steps to take afterward can make the process more manageable. Prioritizing safety, gathering essential information, and seeking medical attention are the foundations of a sound post-accident plan. By staying calm and following this guide, you can navigate the aftermath of a collision more effectively and ensure the well-being of everyone involved. Safe driving!

At Brandt & Sherman Injury Lawyers, we are committed to being the best possible legal representation for you. With over 60 years of combined experience, we’ll help you get the help you need and deserve. Contact us today, and see how we become your lawyer, your voice.

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