5 Things You Need To Do Right After a Car Accident


WRITTEN BY: Julia Matseikovich

UPDATED: SEPTEMBER 23, 2022 | 1 MIN READ

Car accidents are one of the most stressful things you can go through in your life. However, it’s important to remain calm and composed after a car accident so that you can figure out what needs to be done next. This article breaks down the five most important steps you need to take after getting into a car accident.

Car Accident Prep Quicklinks

What Should You Do Immediately After a Car Accident

If you’ve been in a car accident, here is what you should do immediately afterward. 

Make sure everyone is safe. 

Unfortunately, injuries in car accidents are common. Every year in the U.S., 4.4 million people get injured enough to visit the hospital because of a car crash. 

While you might feel fine after a crash, the first step is ensuring everyone involved is safe. If someone was injured, call 911 to get them medical attention immediately. 

Get to a safe spot.

After making sure no one was injured, ensure you, everyone involved, and your vehicle is in a safe space. Fast drivers not paying attention present another hazard. Don’t stay on the highway if you can avoid it. Turn on your flashers, or use flares or cones to warn drivers of your presence. 

If there’s a danger of explosions from a fire or a gas leakage, get far away from the scene to protect yourself and everyone involved. Take special care to help children, the elderly, and pets because they might unknowingly put themselves in danger. If the car is the safest place to be, keep them inside. 

Exchange insurance information.

Get as much information as you can to provide to your insurance company, including:

  • Name, insurance information (company and policy number), phone number, license number, and license plate number of the other driver
  • Type, model, and color of the other driver’s car
  • Police report number
  • Police officer’s name and number
  • Witness contact information (if applicable)
  • Photos of damage
  • Photos of road condition (if applicable)
  • Your description of what happened in the accident
  • Location of the accident

While you’re gathering information, the other driver is likely gathering information about you. Avoid sharing your Social Security number or other important details about yourself that aren’t listed above. Also, be sure you don’t accidentally admit fault by apologizing profusely to the other driver.

File an insurance claim.

Once you have all the necessary information, file a car insurance claim. You should take care of this immediately after the accident because most insurance companies require immediate action. Find out what documents you have to submit and the deadline for filing them. Also, ask when you should expect to hear back from your insurance company. 

You may have to drive your car (if it’s still drive-able) to an in-person inspection site, or you might have to participate in a virtual inspection process.

File medical expenses.

If you have “med pay,” which is additional medical coverage on top of your auto coverage, use it to pay your medical bills. Medpay is available to all the people in your car. If you have to receive medical care, keep all medical records and bills and submit them to your insurance company. You may have to make a car accident personal injury claim.

Keep your records.

While filing your claim, make sure you keep records for yourself. Create a physical and virtual folder containing all the documents you submitted, and be sure to keep it updated.

Do I Have to Call the Police Right After an Accident? 

Even if no one was injured, calling the police is smart. Some states require you to contact the police after an accident. Even if you aren’t required, calling the police gives you an official report to give your insurance company. When you’re speaking with the dispatcher, be prepared to provide these details:

  • Your name 
  • City, street name, and house number if you’re close to a house
  • Mile markings if you’re on the highway
  • Traffic signs or signals
  • Travel direction 
  • Whatever other information will help them find you quickly 

When the police arrive, give them all the car accident information they ask for to ensure the report is as accurate as possible.

If the police can’t come to the scene

If the police can’t come to the scene, go to a police station to file a report as soon as possible. Most states require that you file a report within 72 hours after the incident.

Document the crash 

If, for some reason, you don’t contact the police, then make sure you document the crash. Take pictures, draw out the accident, and write your experience for your records. 

Will My Car Insurance Rates Increase After an Accident? 

Your rates may increase after an accident, especially if the accident was your fault. Some insurance companies have an accident forgiveness program that keeps your rates from increasing if it’s your first accident. Many wouldn’t increase your premium if the other driver were at fault.

Whether your car insurance rates increase after an accident depends on who is at fault, how much damage is involved, and your car insurance company’s policies.

FAQs

What should you do after an accident that’s not your fault?

You should still file an insurance claim, but make sure your records and documents are as detailed as possible to prove the accident wasn’t your fault. 

What should you do after an at-fault car accident?

Even though your insurance company may increase your rate after an at-fault car accident, you should still file a claim. If you don’t, you might incur even more expenses.

How long do you have to report a car accident?

Report the accident as soon as possible. Most insurers give you a specific time to report a car accident, but each policy has its rules. Check with your insurance provider to learn how long you must report a car accident.

Will my car insurance rates increase if an accident isn’t my fault?

Generally, if the car accident wasn’t your fault, your insurance rates won’t increase. The at-fault insurance provider will be responsible for covering any accident costs.

What should you never do after a car accident?

When you hear about other crashes, you may hear some people strike a deal to avoid exchanging insurance information. However, this is not a smart move. A deal at the scene can cause major expenses down the line that your insurance company can’t cover.

Car Accidents and Insurance: The Bottom Line

Being in a car crash is a jarring experience. Now that you know the right steps to take after a car accident, you never have to wonder what to do next — what could have been a stressful situation will now be much more manageable.

If you need help finding the right auto insurance, comparing auto insurance quotes is always best. We hope this list was able to help make your post-accident situation much easier to deal with.