What Should I Do if I Get in a Car Accident?

Don't Leave the Scene

Do not leave the scene. Call for help on your cell phone.

Take Photos

If you can, take photos of the accident scene. Use your cell phone, iPad, or keep a disposable camera in your glove compartment. But don’t get in the way of responders such as police, EMTs or ambulance crew.

Cooperate with Responders

If responders want to take you to the hospital by ambulance to be examined by a doctor, then go.

Get Medical Care — And Follow Up!

If you have been injured, but are not taken to the hospital, get seen by your doctor right away. Don’t delay.

Follow up with any medical aftercare suggested by your doctor.

Keep careful track of your appointments, and follow up care. Write down the dates of all medical appointments, and have a list of all doctors and medical professionals such as physical therapists seen for consultation and treatment. Write down all addresses, dates of visits, instructions, and telephone numbers.

Keep a list of your medication, and save receipts from the pharmacy.

Get the Police Report

Contact the police agency that investigated the accident scene, and get a copy of the police report. Make extra copies.

Keep a Pain Log

Purchase a diary or simple spiral notebook or composition pad. Record day to day pain and interference with life activities as the result of your injuries. Pain is perhaps the most difficult thing to explain to someone. A day to day log is extremely useful for refreshing your recollection at trial or at deposition. A trial can take place years after an accident. Memories can and do fade. It is one thing to remember that you experienced an ache or pain for some period of time following an accident, but without detail it loses meaning.

A recorded recollection that you couldn’t get back up for several minutes after bending down to pick up a dropped object two weeks after your accident can be a powerful description of the intensity of the pain you experienced. Small events that result in excruciating pain can be forgotten over time. A diary, or pain log, allows you to remember details that will illustrate the severity of your injury.

Don't Delay Seeing an Attorney

After seeing your physician, make an appointment to see an auto accident or personal injury attorney. You need to do this right away, and not delay the process. All lawsuits are subject to strictly enforced statutes of limitation, and the court process itself takes time to wind through the courts. You need to take steps to preserve any claim that you may have as soon as possible.

Next Step: What Should I Expect When I Contact a Lawyer?