What to Do in a Car Accident

Check for injuries and pull over.

If you are hit or in an accident, the first thing you should do is check to make sure you and your passengers are okay. If everyone is safe, then drive your car to the shoulder to prevent another accident or injury. Never flee an accident, even if it is a minor fender bender. Always stay at the scene of the accident and make sure no one involved is injured or hurt. Turn on your hazard lights to let passing cars know you are there.

Exchange information with other drivers.

If everyone involved in the accident is safe and not seriously injured, then exchange information with the other driver. Take note of their name, phone number, license plate number, make and model of the car, insurance company, and policy number. Take as many pictures as you can of your car and the other car. It is important for the insurance companies to know what happened in as much detail as possible. If there were any witnesses, you can write down their name and phone number. It can be helpful to hear from them directly when putting together your case.

Call the police if someone is injured or if the damage is estimated over $500.

If you think you might be injured at all, then call the police. Keep in mind that you might be in shock, so you could be injured but not in pain yet. Back and neck injuries can take a couple days or even months to set in. The police will put together a report that details what happened and documents statements from everyone involved.

Interview any witnesses and write down their statements.

If the police do report to your accident, then they will interview any witnesses who stayed at the scene of the accident. If you don't call the police, then write down or record a statement from each witness yourself. Try to take those statements as quickly as possible, as memories and details tend to fade with time. Your attorney or your insurance company may use those statements to strengthen your case.

Take pictures of the cars involved and the accident scene.

Always begin by moving your car out of traffic if possible. After you move your car, then take pictures of the accident. Don't walk or stand where you could be injured by passing cars. Take pictures of your car, the other cars involved in the accident, and any marks or inconsistencies on the road or traffic lights. Write everything down immediately after the accident so you have the details clearly recorded. If you noticed the color of traffic lights, then write that in your statement. Even if you think the accident is clear in your mind, write it down. Your memory might fade, and you could easily forget important details of the accident.

Seek medical attention as needed and as quickly as possible.

It is important that you visit the doctor or hospital immediately if you were injured in an accident. If you wait to visit the doctor, then the other driver could contend that you were injured after the accident and it isn't their fault. Find and contact an auto accident lawyer within a day or two. There are legal limits to how quickly you have to file a personal injury claim. It is best to contact an attorney as quickly as possible so you don't miss the window in which you can file a claim.

Get a copy of your police report.

You are entitled to a copy of the police report, if one was taken. Look through the police report and make sure it is accurate and true to the statement you gave police. Police reports are usually filed within 10 days of an accident. When you hire an attorney like Paul Ryan & Associates, we can track down the police report for you so you can focus on healing. Our attorneys will walk you through the process so you don't have to worry about working with police and insurance companies.