What to Do after an Automobile Accident

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published July 13, 2015. The practical steps to take after an automobile accident have been updated and tips provided to the reader.

Being involved in an automobile accident is a time of extreme emotions. While you may think you will know what to do, often, in the chaos and confusion of an accident it is easy to forget, especially when injuries or even fatalities are involved.

After an Automobile Accident

These practical steps can help protect you and your family immediately following an automobile accident.

  • Stop your vehicle as close to the impact area as possible. Never drive away from the scene of an accident (even a minor one); it is against the law to leave the scene of an accident and it becomes a “hit and run.”
  • Begin with immediate medical emergencies and call 9-1-1. Assess your own medical needs along with your passengers, other drivers and their passengers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, or bicyclists. If you are able, assist in attending those injured by keeping them warm and conscious. Don’t move anyone who has been injured until medical help arrives.
  • Make the roadway safe and prevent additional injuries by setting up flares or using a car’s flashers to let other motorists know there is a problem. Keep vehicles involved in the accident where it occurred unless they interfere with traffic.
  • Talk to the police and report the facts. If you call 9-1-1, tell the operator what services you need – medical, police, fire. Chances are all will be sent out to the accident site.

Tip: Serious injuries or not, best practice is to ensure a police report is filed. Police reports, typically needed when filing a claim with your insurance carrier; give you an official person to help gather the accident details. When giving your information, realize you may not know all the facts so do not speculate or guess about accident details. Be sure to get the officer-in-charge’s full name, badge number, and report number.

  • Automobile accident tow truck roadside assistance insurance company insurance carrier

    Beware of “bandit” tow truck drivers. Make sure any that stop are legitimate.

    Call or ask for help such as a tow truck. Depending on how much damage your car sustained, it may need to be towed to a collision repair center. (Your insurer may be able to arrange the help you need such as a tow truck, rental car or other roadside assistance through an app.)

Tip: Beware of “bandit” tow trucks. These are the guys who pull over and offer tow your vehicle to a repair center. Be careful; scams abound, and this may be one. Do not assume the tow truck is reputable. Always verify the driver’s credentials and take down all contact information.

  • Exchange information. Typically, one of the responding officers will take care of this for the police report, but make sure you have basic information from all drivers involved including full name, address, driver’s license number, insurance carrier and policy number. You will want the same information from all passengers and witnesses as well. NEVER admit fault or apologize for anything at the scene.

Tip: Designate a spot in your car to keep your registration, proof of insurance card, contact information and a list of key things you need to remember at the scene of an accident. Having a checklist in hand will help you navigate the process.

  • Gather details and document the accident. Write down the model, make, color, year, and license plate number of every vehicle involved in the accident. Describe the damage to each vehicle.
  • Make a drawing of the crash scene and take pictures. In your own drawing you can use arrows and other elements to show where witnesses stood, the vehicle’s movement (such as doing a 180 or 360), and skid marks. Photographic proof can help with your insurance claim or if you end up in court.
  • Seek medical attention. Many injuries may not be visible until later so it is always best to be evaluated by a doctor. Hidden injuries, such as whiplash or concussions, may not present signs or symptoms for 24 hours or more. Even in minor accidents, you can sustain injuries to areas such as your spinal cord.
  • Contact your insurance company. Notify your insurance company as soon as possible, answer any questions, and provide them with the police report number. Ask for any special instructions.

Tip: Take the high-tech route. Today, many insurers offer virtual tools such as a mobile phone app to allow you to begin the claims process online. Check your proof of insurance card for instructions or call the toll-free phone number. Your insurance company will ask for lots of information about the accident and may even prompt you to use a remote inspection tool via your smartphone.

  • Keep track of any medical expenses. Accidents can cause injuries ranging from minor conditions such as lacerations, bruises, and sprains to serious injuries such as broken bones, internal organ damage, spinal cord or brain injuries. Expenses might include medications to help control pain, surgery, or physical therapy depending on your injuries.

Questions? Call us at (877) 284-6600, Chat Online or use our Text Us widget.

Do you need a personal injury lawyer?

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Consult an experienced personal injury attorney.

If the accident was due to the negligence of another driver or motorist, product failure or highway defect, you should talk with an attorney familiar with personal injuries. He or she can help you recover compensation for accident-related injuries, including lost wages.

Serious injuries occur in automobile accidents, some of which may not show up until weeks after an accident occurs. Some of the most common injuries include:

  • Neck pain, including whiplash
  • Head injuries, which tend to be more visual such as bruises and scalp wounds
  • Brain injuries, including concussions, are hard to detect with the naked eye. A CT scan may be required to determine if there is internal bleeding/brain hemorrhage or bruised brain tissue.
  • Back pain

These injuries can be life altering and a financial drain. When accidents are caused by the negligence of another, a personal injury lawyer will negotiate a financial settlement on your behalf.


If you have been seriously injured or lost a family member in an automobile accident due to another’s negligence, contact the experienced attorneys at Nash & Franciskato for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Call (877) 284-6600 and one of our experienced automobile accident attorneys will speak with you personally.



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