According to the California DMV, most drivers will experience a car accident at some point in their lifetime, even if they are very vigilant behind the wheel.

That said, it’s important to know what to do after a car crash to protect your physical safety, uphold your legal rights, and maintain your interests. A car accident often leads to serious losses, and just because someone else causes your accident, that doesn’t mean they’ll take accountability and pay you what you deserve.

The good news is that if you take the right steps, you’ll preserve your right to file a compensation claim. Learn more about three of the most important things you should do to protect yourself if you get involved in a crash.

Step One: Ensuring Safety and Health Post-Accident

If you just got in a car accident, then the first thing you need to do is evaluate your situation ASAP. Your next steps will be dictated based on your initial perception of how bad the accident is and how serious everyone’s injuries are.

Ensuring safety and health immediately following the accident is crucial. If the proper steps aren’t taken, then not only could you be putting your physical health and safety on the line, but you might also put other people at risk. Even worse, if you’re not being cognizant of your surroundings, then your accident could lead to another collision. Below, we’ll go over exactly what to do to make sure that everyone’s health and safety are considered as you navigate the aftermath of a crash.

Immediate Actions for Personal and Public Safety

Take a moment to breathe and take in what just happened. Since car accidents are traumatic, you will likely have adrenaline and other life-saving chemicals rushing through your body. These chemicals can mask an injury initially, so be sure to physically look at yourself to ensure that you are alright. Consciously take into account if you are feeling any pain. Next, ask any passengers if they are hurt.

If you believe any injuries are serious, then don’t wait to call 911. Sometimes, moving someone after a bad injury can make their situation even worse.

You also need to analyze the accident scene to determine how safe you are in the position you are in. Generally, you want to leave your vehicle where it is until the police arrive so they can analyze what happened and investigate who hit who. That said, you also need to use your best judgment when determining what to do with car after an accident. If traffic is coming in hot and they won’t be able to see your accident until it’s too late, then it might be necessary to move your car to the shoulder.

Health Checks and Medical Attention

In your first car accident what to do isn’t always apparent. You might unintentionally deny medical attention when emergency responders arrive, or think that your injuries aren’t serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital.

Don’t make these rookie mistakes.

Instead, get the health check you need after a crash, regardless of how seriously you think you’re hurt. You can likely get your medical bills taken care of through an insurance policy or future claim, so don’t worry about the expenses of tending to your physical health.

Taking this step is crucial. If you don’t get timely medical care, then your injuries could get worse. What’s more, a future claim could be complicated by the fact that you delay care.

Step Two: Legal and Insurance Procedures

After you’ve taken care of the immediate aftermath of the accident, you can start to consider your next steps. Since your accident likely led to injuries, property damage, and other losses, there will be specific legal and insurance procedures you’ll need to follow. You’ll also need to report your incident promptly to multiple parties, start documenting the accident directly at the scene, and collect specific evidence to back up your claims.

Documenting the Accident Scene

If you’re injured after the crash, don’t worry about documenting the scene. Focus on your health. If you are in a position to be able to, though, you should start documenting the accident scene while you wait for police to arrive. 

  • Take photographs of the scene.
  • Ask nearby witnesses if they’d be willing to provide a statement to the police.
  • Take down witnesses’ contact details in case you need them later. 
  • Check with nearby motorists to see if anyone caught the accident on a dash cam.
  • Look around to see if you notice any surveillance cameras nearby that you could pull footage from.

Get as much evidence as you can while at the scene, but only do so if it’s safe and you're physically able to.

Reporting the Accident

Next, you’ll need to consider who you need to report the accident to. The first authority is the police. They will come out to the scene, provide medical care, and clear the roadway so it’s safe for traffic again.

reporting a car accident

Next, you’ll need to report the accident to your insurance provider. Tell them that an accident occurred, but don’t go into further detail about what happened or the extent of your injuries. Let the adjuster know that you will be providing more details as they become available to you. Legally, you do need to inform your provider about the accident but you aren’t obligated to tell them more about it until you decide whether you want to file a claim or not.

Step Three: Protecting Your Rights and Interests

As you go about taking care of your immediate injuries and reporting the accident, you’ll have a lot to focus on. The goal during this whole process is to protect your rights and interests, but your safety and health must come first. That means getting the proper medical treatment and reporting the accident will usually happen before you get the chance to get fully informed regarding your legal rights and options moving forward.

As soon as you can, your next step should be to consult with a lawyer.

Consulting a Lawyer

The right car accident lawyer can help you better understand your options based on your specific circumstances. If someone else is responsible for the accident, you should be able to file a claim with that party’s insurance provider or against the negligent party themselves. Your lawyer will also help you value your claim based on your losses and the overall accident's impact on your quality of life.

consulting a lawyer after a car accident

Here at Kermani LLP, the team of car accident lawyers is prepared to help you navigate the complexities of your car accident situation. The attorneys want to hear you explain what happened, the extent of your losses, and the overall impact the accident has had on your quality of life. We know first-hand how devastating it can be to unexpectedly lose months or even years of your life dealing with an injury that was avoidable if the other party wasn’t reckless. Schedule a legal consultation with our team now if you are ready to pursue justice after a crash. 

Filing Insurance Claims

Depending on your situation, your next step may be filing an insurance claim. If you have personal injury protection, then you may be able to get coverage from your insurance policy even if you were at fault or if you get involved with underinsured or uninsured drivers. If the other party was at fault, then you might have to file an insurance claim with their company. In case you hire a lawyer, your attorney will handle this aspect. They’ll negotiate with any insurance agents and help you build a solid case upfront.


What are the First Steps to Take Immediately After a Car Accident?

Directly after an accident, you need to:

  1. Call the police.
  2. Get medical care.
  3. Document the scene if possible.

These steps keep you safe and protect your rights.

How Important is Documenting the Accident Scene?

Accident documentation is essential to your claim. If you properly document the accident scene, you might be able to easily prove negligence. For instance, if the other driver broke traffic laws and you secure proof of that through witness statements, a police report, and dash cam footage, then your claim will be easy to prove and faster to resolve.

Should I Contact My Insurance Company After the Accident?

You can contact your insurance company to inform them that an accident happened but don’t make any further statements until you’ve spoken with an attorney. Do not make any statements admitting fault, discussing your injuries, or thoughts about pursuing a claim. You can have those types of discussions later after you talk with a lawyer.

Is Seeking Medical Attention Necessary if I Feel Fine?

It makes the most sense to seek out medical care after an accident even if you think you feel fine. A full physical checkup could uncover injuries with delayed symptoms or help you diagnose a source of pain that you might not have realized was that serious. Prompt medical attention is also necessary for personal injury claims, so if you think you might seek out a claim after your accident, then you need to make sure you get timely medical care. Otherwise, you could cause complications with a future claim.

When Should I Consider Legal Counsel Following an Accident?

If you were involved in an accident that you think was someone else’s fault and the losses are significant, then it might be time to seek legal advice. A lawyer can help you determine if your situation has the necessary elements to file a claim, and they can also inform you about your options moving forward. A lawyer’s counsel is always preferred over general advice on car accident situations because a lawyer will base their counsel on your specific circumstances and the local laws in your area.

What Information Should I Exchange With the Other Driver?

You and the other driver should both provide each other with your name, phone number, and insurance information. Aside from that, the police will document everything else that needs to be taken down. You shouldn’t need to contact the other driver directly if you later need to pursue compensation, but you may have to deal with their insurance company. If you hire a lawyer, then they’ll field all communication for you.

February 8, 2024

Ray Kermani
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