What to do after a car accident

Damage Total Damage Accident Auto Broken Vehicle

Car accidents in the US are a common occurrence. Around six million happen every single year, but even though they are common it doesn’t make being in one any easier. This stressful, traumatic experience can make it difficult to know what steps to take after a collision. There are a number of steps you must take to ensure that you follow the law, that you ensure everyone is safe, and that any insurance claims can get started. If you believe you have a personal injury claim, you’ll be able to get the claim process going too – check out this accident lawyer in Toronto for more information. 

Read on for the steps you should take after a car accident, whether you believe the other driver is at fault or not. 

Pull over

If your car is still moving after the accident, you need to pull over and switch off your engine as soon as it is safe to do so. It is illegal to not stop after an accident. Put on your hazard lights to warn other drivers and to indicate that you have stopped your vehicle. 

Check on your passengers

Check yourself for injury and of course check on the wellbeing of your passengers. If anyone is hurt and needs medical attention, then dial 911 and request the emergency services or ask someone to do this for you. 

Get to safety

If everyone is fit and able to do so, it’s a good idea to get out of the vehicle and get to safety. This could be on a grass verge, behind the barrier on the roadside or on the sidewalk. 

Call 911

Some states require police presence at any kind of traffic collision. It is a legal requirement. You’ll need a police report in order to claim through your insurance company.  When the police arrive, try to give an accurate account of what happened. If you’re not sure how the accident occurred, then tell the responding officer. Don’t guess, don’t embellish details or speculate what might have happened. If asked if you’re injured it’s better to respond with “you’re not sure” rather than “No” as some injuries can only become apparent several hours after an accident. 

Take photographs 

If you have a camera on your phone and you are able to do so, it’s a good idea to take photographs of any visible damage to the vehicles involved. Also take pictures of any injuries you or your passengers might have sustained. Be careful not to get in the way of the police or put yourself at risk.

Exchange and obtain information

The police will normally do this, however if the police do not respond then you should take down the details of the other driver and you should provide them with yours. Name, address, contact details and information about their insurance should be obtained. If there are any witnesses then get their contact details too. 

Report the accident

Get in touch with your insurance company to report the accident. You don’t have to do this at the scene. 

Get in touch with your lawyer

It’s important to seek legal advice before giving statements and ensuring that your rights are protected. 


Emily Muelford
Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.