What to Do After a Car Accident

after a car accident

If you’ve recently been in a car accident, it may leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Knowing the steps to take afterwards can help alleviate some of that stress—and even set you on course to get all the necessary compensation for damages incurred. In this article we’ll discuss what to do after a car accident.

We’re going to cover to do after a car accident that is not your fault: who needs to be contacted and how, when your insurance should be involved, and how to properly file a claim? We share our expert advice from an insurance agency on all these questions below.

Stay Calm

When faced with a stressful situation, our natural instinct is to panic. However, it’s important to take a step back and remain calm. One helpful technique is taking a few deep breaths to center yourself. Once you’re grounded, assess the situation for any injuries. This will allow you to prioritize your actions and address any immediate medical concerns.

Remember, staying calm can help prevent further harm and can make a big difference in high-pressure situations.

Check Your Surroundings Before Exiting the Vehicle

Check around you before opening your door to get out of your vehicle. Your adrenalin is probably pumping and your natural instinct could be to jump right out and asses the damages. You don’t want to step right out into traffic. Especially if your vehicle won’t start and you can’t get over to the shoulder or another safe place.

Exchange Information

Exchange information with the other driver. Collecting their contact info, driver’s license, insurance and vehicle information will make the claims process run much smoother.

Contact info: It’s important that you get a good working phone number for the other person. Give them your number and have them text you before you leave. This way you have confirmation. It’s also not a bad idea to do the same thing for email.

Drivers License: You’ll want to gather information from the other drivers license such as name, address and drivers license number. Ask them if their address is current. Also, take a picture of their drivers license. This way you’ll have a complete copy along with their photo.

If you really want to up it to the next level, take a selfie with the person. This may come in handy if you believe the person isn’t being honest with you or doesn’t have their drivers license with them.

Insurance info: You’ll want to take down the name on the policy as well as insurance company and policy number. Again, we recommend taking a picture of their insurance card.

If you’re feeling uneasy about their proof of insurance, call in the claim before you leave the scene of the accident. This way you can immediately verify if the other person has an active policy.

Vehicle info: Take pictures of the vehicle, license plate and VIN number. The VIN number is located at the base of the windshield.

File a Police Report

This one we cannot stress enough. Without a police report the insurance companies cannot determine who is at-fault. When this happens both parties will likely be found partially at-fault and end up paying higher insurance premiums for the next 3-5 years.

Don’t be too trusting of the other person. They may agree with you on the side of the road they are at-fault and then change their mind and story later when they speak to a claims adjuster. We’ve seen this happen many times before. Don’t leave it up to chance.

Not all police departments will come to the scene of the accident if there are no injuries or roadway blockages. However, they will conduct one over the phone. Either way, with a police report, both parties have made their statement which eliminates the possibility of someone changing their story later.


It’s great if you have witnesses for the accident as this can help strengthen your case. If other people have stopped, kindly ask them if they would be willing to make a statement. If they’re not willing to stay, exchange contact information with them so the police and claims adjusters can contact them later. Witnesses cannot be someone inside your car.

Document the Scene

Taking pictures helps tremendously in making your case. You’ll want to snap photos and/or video of the following:

  • Your vehicle – around all sides
  • The other drivers vehicle
  • The other driver (could be awkward but well worth it later)
  • The surrounding area including street signs
  • Tire marks on the road
  • Any debris around the accident

Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words, so don’t hesitate to snap away.

Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company

Even if the other driver is at-fault, it’s a good idea to call your insurance company and put them on notice. Then, call the other drivers insurance company to verify the claim has been made. Don’t just rely on the other drivers word they’re going to call in the claim. Especially, if you haven’t heard anything from a claims adjuster in 48 hours.

Follow Up with Insurance Company

Claims adjusters are usually working on a lot of claims at the same time. Don’t be afraid to be the squeaky wheel. If the other party was at-fault, call their insurance company for updates. Then, call your insurance company to let them know the progress. They can help push things along.

Why Go Through All This Hassle?

This may seem like a big to-do list but if you want to ensure you’re treated fairly you have to cover all your bases. Not to mention, when you file the claim with all of this information, you are strengthening your case by showing the claims adjuster you are on top of things. This goes a long way, especially if there ends up being a dispute over the facts of the accident.

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