What Should You Do After a Car Accident?

There is an average of 6 million car accidents every year in the US alone, but do you know what happens next? We learn so much information when we’re learning to drive, but many drivers still have no idea what to do after a car accident. Here we are going to share 11 basic tips on what to do after a collision, assuming that you’re not on fire or anything terrible like that.

1. Get to Safety

You’re probably on a busy road or highway, so get yourself to safety above all else. If your car is drivable, safely move it to the side of the road and put your hazard lights on. If the car isn’t driveable, you ideally need to exit the vehicle and get to a safe location, preferably behind a barrier if you’re on a highway. Make sure your hazard lights are switched on (if they’re working) and be VERY careful if exiting your vehicle on a highway.

2. See If There’s a Medical Emergency

After a collision, you and your passengers might be completely fine, but the other vehicle’s inhabitants might not be so lucky. Depending on the speeds involved, the angle of the crash, and the safety features of the cars, some people might need medical assistance. Before furiously grabbing your insurance documents, check whether you need to call 911.

3. Stay Right There

Driving away after an accident (even if it wasn’t your fault) could be seen as a “hit and run” by the authorities. This has various punishments depending on where you’re from, and none of them are particularly nice. In California, you can get 4 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. In Ontario, you can get 6 months in prison and a $2,000 fine. In the UK, you can get 5-10 points on your license and 6 months in prison. Not ideal.

4. Call the Police

Calling the police is always a good idea, even if the damage is relatively minor. You might need a record of the official police report in order to file a claim with your insurance company, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and give the cops a heads up.

Police at the location of a car accident


5. Record Information to the Police

Make sure you can keep an accurate record of everything that’s happened and share it with the police when they arrive. Try not to guess information or be vague – tell them exactly what happened as you remember it. Take multiple pictures of the crash from several angles. If you have a dashcam, make sure that you extract the video footage from it to keep on record. Keep track of data like the date, time, and location, as well as the license plates of the vehicles involved and the badge number of the attending officer (if the police do respond).

6. Remember That You Might Be Injured

Even if you’re not at death’s door, many car accident-related injuries don’t make themselves known until a later date. For example, whiplash doesn’t crop up until at least 24 hours after the crash, so it can be hard to know how injured you are straight away. If the police ask whether you’re injured, say that “you don’t know” or “you’re not sure”. It’s better to be cautious.

7. Exchange Information with the Other Driver

You need to swap key information with the other driver, assuming that everyone is safe and not massively harmed. Obviously, you need to swap insurance information, but also get the names, addresses, and contact numbers of all the drivers and passengers involved in the incident – you might need them later.

8. See If There are Any Witnesses

Depending on where you crashed, there may have been eyewitnesses who saw the whole thing and can offer an unbiased perspective on the accident. If there are any willing witnesses, be sure to get their name, address, and a contact number. Their testimony might save your ass!

What to do after a car accident

9. Report the Accident to Your Insurer

Get on the phone and break the bad news to your insurance company. They won’t be pleased, but cars crashing is kind-of how they make a living. If the car you’re driving is rented, leased, or registered to someone else, make sure you inform them too.

10. Seek Medical Attention

Even if you feel fine, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your physician as soon as possible. As I said, common crash injuries like whiplash can take a few days to present themselves. It’s better to get that peace of mind!

11. Call Your Attorney

Consider calling a lawyer after you’ve been in a car accident, even if it wasn’t your fault. Some people can get dollar signs in their eyes following a crash, so it’s important to be extra careful and protect yourself from unjust financial claims.

Feel Safer Against A Car Accident?

Of course, it’s easy to read “do this and do that” while casually scrolling this article on your phone, but it’s not so easy to remember all of this when you’re in shock after an accident. If necessary, keep these steps jotted down on a piece of paper in your glovebox or have this webpage saved in your phone for later reference. Next time you get in a car accident, hopefully you’ll have a decent idea of what to do next!

Hatice Degirmenci