6 Things You Need to Do After a Car Accident

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No one starts their daily commute or strikes out on a weekend adventure planning to become the victim of a motor vehicle collision.  In fact, unless you are a personal injury attorney, most people don’t have a “mental checklist” of things that you need to consider in the event that you find yourself involved in an auto wreck.  However, in the minutes following an accident, there are some important steps that you need to take to ensure your safety and to protect yourself.

If you find my steps useful and would like to keep in them your vehicle in case of an auto accident please fill out the form below to get your free copy of my Car Accident Pamphlet mailed to your address. We will also email you a copy.

Free Car Wreck Pamphlet

Fill out this form to receive your  FREE car wreck pamphlet to keep in your car to reference if involved in a auto accident. We’ll email you a copy to keep on your phone or computer as well.

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1. Assess the situation.

Are you or anyone in your vehicle injured?  Are the injuries significant enough that you need to wait for emergency medical personnel to try to exit the vehicle? Can you safely drive your vehicle to a place that is out of harm’s way? If you are able to do so, you need to move the vehicle off the roadway and exit the vehicle as soon as possible.  Some of the most significant injuries occur as the result of secondary collisions caused by stranded vehicles and oncoming motorists. Some injuries, however, are so significant that it would be dangerous for the injured parties to be moved without assistance from trained emergency medical professionals.  In those instances, it is still important to move the affected vehicles off the roadway. If this is not possible, seek assistance from someone to alert or flag oncoming traffic.

2. Notify police/EMS/fire and rescue by calling 9-1-1.

If anyone involved in the accident requires medical attention, your first call, after you have moved yourself and/or your vehicle to safety, should be to 9-1-1. Even in relatively minor collisions, it is important to notify the police so that an accident report can be generated.  Modern technology will usually allow dispatchers to locate your location, but provide as much detail as you can about the location of the accident, and the persons involved. If medical assistance is needed, make sure that you advise the dispatcher of this specifically.

3. Assess your condition.

Do you or any of the occupants of your vehicle require medical treatment?  When the police arrive, you will be asked this question. Adrenaline is amazing at allowing our bodies to react to stressful situations by masking pain. It is not uncommon for accident victims to feel relatively unaffected for minutes or even hours after an accident.  When the adrenaline wears off, however, the pain that it has been masking will return.

4. Exchange information.

While you are waiting for the police to arrive, if you are able to do so, exchange information with the other driver.  The information that you will want to obtain, includes:

    1. Drivers name, date of birth and driver’s license number
    2. Picture of the Registration and Proof of Insurance card
    3. License plate number
    4. Identity of any other occupants in the car
    5. Document damage to the vehicles, if possible, using your mobile device

Be polite, but avoid talking about the cause and the events that led up to the accident.  It is perfectly fine to show interest/sympathy for the condition of anyone involved, but avoid taking (or casting) blame for the accident. Even if you believe that you were at fault for the accident, discussing that information with the other affected party is of no real benefit to you.

5. Seek medical treatment.

It is always a good idea to get yourself checked-out by trained medical professionals after you are involved in an accident.  Your car insurance (or the car insurance for the driver/owner of the car you are traveling in) has a provision called “Personal Injury Protection” or PIP.  This provision provides up to $10,000 in medical treatment for anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident. This provision is required in all personal auto policies because the Legislature wanted to make sure that all injured parties had access to medical treatment after an accident. So, even if you don’t otherwise have health insurance or a regular family doctor, if you need medical treatment, insurance will cover the costs up to $10,000.  That includes and follow-up appointments or therapy that is related to injuries arising from the accident.

6. Seek representation.

If you are injured as the result of an automobile accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.  Insurance companies have claims adjusters and attorneys working 24/7 to minimize their potential exposure. You need someone who will hold your hand and walk you through this process every step of the way.  From making sure that your initial medical costs are properly submitted to insurance, to negotiating for the use of a rental/replacement vehicle, and, ultimately, making sure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries, a good personal injury attorney adds considerably more value than the contingency fee that he/she charges.  It is important to get your attorney on board as soon as possible – they can take much of the burden off your shoulders.


Kaelin G. Reed is a Lebanon, Kentucky lawyer specializing in personal injury, auto accident, business law, trusts & estates and employment law. Kaelin has over 12 years experience handling auto accident and personal injury cases in Kentucky.