What Should You Do If You’re Involved in a Car Collision?

This post-accident checklist can help guide you through the first few moments after getting hit by a car.

As anyone who has suffered through a car wreck can surely tell you, the moments after a collision are often a confusing blur of fear and emotions. When you’re unsure of what has just happened and worried about the safety of yourself and your passengers, it can be easy to lose your head and panic.

However, from both a legal and a medical standpoint, it’s vital that you remain calm and try to take a problem-solving approach to your predicament. Your actions in the seconds after a collision can play a major role in determining the outcome of the situation. This post-accident checklist can help guide you through those confusing moments.

  • Safety first. Take a survey of each passenger, including yourself. If there are any serious injuries, focus all of your attention on getting immediate medical assistance. Even if there aren’t any obvious injuries, try to encourage your passengers to limit their movements until they can be evaluated by medical personnel.
  • Get help. If the collision is serious, call 911. If the damage is moderate and there are no apparent injuries, call your local non-emergency police line.
  • Document the scene. After you’ve assessed the safety of the passengers and assured that everyone is out of harm’s way, it’s time to begin to record the details of the incident. If you have a cellphone camera, take photos of the scene. Tell your side of the story to the police. Ask any witnesses to provide their contact information.
  • Exchange basic information. In most jurisdictions, it’s mandatory that you provide your name, contact information, and insurance data to the other driver after a collision. However, try to limit the amount of additional information or opinion that you volunteer. Every statement you make could later come under legal scrutiny.
  • Protect your legal rights. As soon as possible after the collision, it’s important to contact a qualified personal injury attorney who can evaluate your case and determine whether you have a valid claim. The sooner you seek legal advice, the better. Statutes of limitation in many states mandate that claims be filed within a specific window of time after a collision, so don’t delay.