So You’ve Been in an Accident: Here’s the Steps you Should Take

Posted by at 2 June 2020, at 11 : 07 AM

So You’ve Been in an Accident: Here’s the Steps you Should Take

Getting in a car accident is something that nobody wants to experience, but unfortunately most of us will in our lifetimes. Some of us may be unlucky enough to experience more than one. Hopefully, if you do find yourself in a car accident, there will be minimal damage and no injuries. Regardless, you should follow certain steps after getting in an accident to ensure that you are okay and that your car is taken care of properly, too. This is true regardless of whether it’s a small fender-bender or a large wreck, or whether or not you are at fault.

Many of us think we know the proper procedure to follow when we’ve been in an accident, but sometimes we get flustered and forget, or don’t realize we should have been more proactive. Here’s a quick guide for what to do in the event that you’re in a car accident.


Before you even step out of the car after getting in an accident, take a moment if you can to assess the situation. Get a look and feel to make sure you are not injured, or that nobody else in your car is injured. In the case of injury, if you are able to exit the car, do so swiftly but carefully, so as not to injure yourself further. In the event that you’re trapped and you’re able to, call emergency services.

Once you’re safely out of the car, call emergency services. Report the accident, giving them your address, and wait for them to arrive. While you wait, assess the damage to your vehicle by carefully looking it over front to back, noting any scratches, dents, broken glass and so on. Also take a look at the vehicle of the other person and do the same. Take pictures if you’re able to.

If the vehicle(s) appear to be smoking, are on fire, or other threatening situations, get as far away as you can.

Exchange Info

While waiting for the police to arrive, it’s a good idea to exchange information with the other driver. This includes your name, address and phone number, and your insurance information, so that you can both easily file a claim. If the other person refuses to divulge this information, you can request the arriving police officer obtain it for you, as it will be a matter of public record.

If there were any witnesses, try to obtain their information as well, just in case.

Call your Insurance Company

It’s best to call the insurance company as soon as you possibly can. If you have time to call while waiting for the police, go ahead and do so so that they can get the ball rolling on your claim. Filing an accident claim generally doesn’t take a very long time – they’ll only want basic information to begin with, and can follow up later. The insurance rep will likely ask you if you’re injured, how damaged the car is, and if you need emergency transport or medical care. In some cases, depending on your insurance coverage, they may be able to provide these things for you.

Speak to Police/File Report

Once the police arrive on the scene, they will assess the accident, interview both drivers, and write up an accident report. They may also take pictures, administer breathalyzers, assess for injuries, and more. They may call for assistance, such as tow trucks, ambulances, and other officers. Comply with the officer and answer all questions honestly and simply. You can ask for a copy of the police report, which they may give you on the scene, or they may tell you to obtain one from the police department or courthouse in a few days.

Obtain Medical Care

If you feel you may be injured, it’s a good idea to go to the hospital or an urgent care clinic as soon as you can. If you feel your injuries may be serious, take the officer up on an offered ambulance. Often, injuries like concussions, whiplash and internal bleeding don’t make themselves known until later, so if you feel even a little bit “off”, be sure to go get checked out.

Many insurance companies won’t pay out on medical services relating to car accidents unless you were seen immediately after the accident, so this is an important step in getting your medical bills paid for.

Visit the hospital or urgent care immediately after the accident or a day or so after, but don’t wait any later than that. If you do, not only could you be risking your health, but you may lose your right to a medical claim.

Expect to have very tense and sore muscles, general body aches and to feel achy the day after a car accident. This is normal, as your muscles involuntarily tense upon impact. If you notice any signs of whiplash, a concussion or other injury, see a doctor immediately.

Follow Up with Insurance and Police

A day or two after the accident, you’ll want to follow up with your insurance company to check on your claim, and get in touch with the police to get a copy of your accident report. You may need to provide more information about the accident, your vehicle, and so on.

Collect all of the information from the scene to have it organized and ready. This includes the other driver’s info, any pictures you took at the scene of the accident, the police report, your insurance paperwork, your car title, etc.

Sort out your Car

Whether your car was able to be driven home, or was totalled and had to be towed, you’ll need to follow up. Your insurance company will help you arrive at a decision about whether or not it can be repaired or if it’s a total loss. This decision will directly affect how much your settlement amount is, and whether or not you’ll buy a new car or get the old one repaired. Generally, if the cost of repairs exceeds the value of the car, it is considered a total loss (eve if the car still drives). You do have input in this decision though ultimately the insurance company will decide.

If the car can be repaired, you may be allowed to choose the body shop that repairs the vehicle. You want to choose a body shop that has lots of experience repairing wrecked automobiles and is used to working with insurance companies, like Alan Byer Collision. In most cases the insurance company or body shop will arrange for the vehicle to be towed.

In most cases, the insurance company will also arrange for you to have a rental car to drive while things are being sorted out. If they don’t offer one, don’t be afraid to ask them. You can also ask for an extension if repairs aren’t finished/you haven’t found a new car, by the time the rental expires.

Settling Up

If you were at fault, your insurance company may have to pay out a claim. If you were not at fault, you may be receiving a check, a freshly repaired car, or both. Be sure to stay in constant contact with your insurance company and provide them with all the relevant information to facilitate this process and make it go smoother.

If you’re given an initial settlement that you feel is too low, don’t cash the check. Never sign any paperwork or cash any checks until you’ve agreed upon an amount you think is fair. Insurance companies are usually willing to negotiate a bit – you don’t have to accept their first “offer”. Research how much your car is worth, as well as the cost of your pain and suffering and don’t be afraid to ask for that amount.

Contacting a Lawyer

In most cases, an accident settlement goes pretty much as you’d expect, with your insurance company handling the hard stuff. But in some cases, you find that you’ve been treated unfairly – not getting a fair settlement, dealing with major injuries that are ongoing, causing you significant pain and suffering, if you were hit by a drunk or uninsured driver, or that the insurance company did not represent you fairly as they should have.

If you feel that you’ve been mistreated or didn’t get a settlement you deserved, you can contact an accident lawyer. There are many law firms out there who have years of experience dealing with this type of law. Do your research and find a local firm who can take on your case and get you the fair settlement you need. They can go up against insurance companies, drivers, and even the police to ensure that you get justice for the suffering you experienced as a result of your accident.

Getting in a car accident is no fun for anyone. Dealing with the fallout can be a very stressful and upsetting experience. But if you follow these steps in order, you’ll find that it goes a little easier for you, making it an experience that while not pleasant, at least was handled quickly and efficiently.

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