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What to Do After a Car Accident

— September 3, 2021

Car accidents leave people extremely panicked and confused, so preparing yourself can really make the process run smoothly. 

Millions of car accidents happen each year, whether it’s a minor crash or a serious one. It’s always a good idea to educate yourself on what to do after a car accident beforehand, since getting into an accident can definitely leave you shaken up and confused. Here are some helpful tips on important steps to take following a car crash that can make the claims process easier.

Consider Getting PIP Insurance Beforehand

Personal injury protection (PIP) is a type of insurance that covers you in the event of an accident that injures you or a passenger, or in situations where you are a pedestrian that is hit by a car. PIP covers medical expenses for both injured policyholders and passengers, even if some do not have health insurance. 

PIP insurance can help protect you in the event of a car accident, and it is a great way to prepare in case anything like this occurs. 

Is Anyone Hurt?

First things first, the number one priority is your safety. You’re going to want to make sure that everyone is okay. Never leave the scene of an accident, even if it’s minor. After determining if there are any injuries, you can better understand the circumstances and what steps to take next. 

Move to a Safer Area 

If the vehicle is still operational, move it to the shoulder or off the main road. Make sure to move the vehicle completely off the road to avoid any further collision. If by chance your car seems like it is in danger of explosion, get everyone out of the way as quickly as possible. 

Contact the Police Right Away

Police officer leaning in window of car after accident; image by Matt Chesin, via
Image by Matt Chesin, via

Regardless of if the accident was major or minor, you’ll want to call the police or law enforcement right away. If you or someone you are with is hurt, this is especially important. Once you call 911, if you are unsure where you are, ask someone nearby for the location. Prepare to provide information like your name, city, street address, traffic signs/signals, or any important information that could help the police locate you as quickly as possible. 

Exchange Certain Information

State laws tend to vary depending on how much information you’re supposed to give at the scene of an accident. A good rule of thumb is to just provide your name and insurance information to any other drivers involved, and ask for theirs in return. You might want to exchange details of the crash, but it’s better to limit your interactions with the other driver to avoid blaming them or admitting you were at fault.

Document the Scene

Using your smartphone’s camera, document as much of the scene as possible. Record videos and take pictures of your car and the other drivers, and try to get close-ups as well. Write down the date and the time of the accident, make note of any street names as well. It’s important to record all relevant information and document it as much as possible, as this can help you defend yourself if you need to do so.

Be Proactive 

In the event that a car accident occurs, it is better to be prepared so that you can remain as calm as possible. Make sure that your vehicle is prepared also, so designate a spot in your car for registration, proof of insurance, and any contact information. It might even be helpful to leave a list of steps to remember in case of an emergency. Car accidents leave people extremely panicked and confused, so preparing yourself can really make the process run smoothly. 

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