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What to Do After a Car Accident

What Do I Do After an Accident?

When my children started driving, I was nervous. Would they know what to do if there was an accident? So I researched and wrote up this information. Here are the steps of what to do if after an accident as well as tips on an emergency kit to keep in the car.

5 Don'ts

Don't leave.

Don't admit blame.

Don't sign anything except the police report.

Don't move cars until you take pictures.

Don't forget to get information from other drivers.


1. Keep Everyone Safe

  1. Turn off the engines.
  2. Call 911 or tell someone else to do that.
  3. Check for injuries. Don't move anyone who can't move by themselves unless they are in danger.
  4. Put on vehicle hazard lights. Put out cones or flares if you have them.
  5. Get everyone out of the cars and away if you smell gas.
  6. Don't move cars until the police come.
  7. Stay out of traffic.
  8. Ask witnesses to wait until the police come.

2. What to Say and Do

Protect yourself by following these suggestions from the insurance industry:

  1. What to Say: Don't admit to any blame. Don't discuss the accident with another driver. Tell your story just to the policeman.
  2. Police Report: Call the police and insist they write up a report (even if the accident is small because a police report will help you file insurance). Get a copy of the report and the accident number from the police officer.
  3. Cars: Unless local laws require you to get out of the way of traffic, don't move the cars until the police make their report. Take pictures of the cars before they are moved.

3. What to Write Down

Protect yourself by taking notes and writing down the information your insurance will want to know. Offer to give the same information to the other driver. Here is what you need to get from the other driver:

  1. name
  2. birthdate
  3. address
  4. email
  5. telephone numbers (have them call you from their cell phone if possible to make sure you have the right number).
  6. driver's license number, state, and expiration date.
  7. year, make, and model of their car and license plate number
  8. a vehicle identification number and auto registration number (should be in the car or check sticker on windshield)
  9. name of the owner of the car (if not the driver) along with the owner's address, phone, and birthdate.
  10. the insurance company, insurance policy number, and insurance phone number (if possible, look at their insurance policy to make sure)
  11. If the name on the insurance is different than the driver, write down the name, address, and phone number of the person who has the auto insurance.
  12. Police Accident Report number.
Take clear pictures of cars and crash scene from several angles.

Take clear pictures of cars and crash scene from several angles.

4. Accident Information Record

Write down everything you remember about the accident. For example:

  1. Date:
  2. Time:
  3. Location of the accident:
  4. Weather and Road Conditions:
  5. Passengers in all cars (names, birth dates, addresses, and phone numbers)
  6. What you remember happening:

5. Witness Information

If anyone saw the accident, get their information too. Here is what you need to get from each person:

  1. name
  2. address
  3. phone number(s)
  4. email
  5. what they saw
Call your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident and give them all the information.

Call your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident and give them all the information.

6. Call Your Insurance Company

After you have gotten all the information, had the cars taken care of, and filed the police report, what do you do next?

Call your Insurance Company: if possible, before you leave the scene of the accident and have your car towed (if necessary) you should call your insurance company. At a minimum, they will want to know

  • your policy number
  • the number of the police report
  • information about the other driver's insurance

Your insurance company may tell you where to tow your car, if necessary, for repairs. They may have a specific repair shop they want you to use to get a repair estimate.

Keep Track of Medical Information: If anyone in your car has to go to the emergency room, or the doctor as a result of the accident, be sure to keep track of that information for the Insurance Company. Ask your Insurance representative how you should handle those bills.

Hit and Run Tips

Did a driver leave the accident? Or did a witness drive off? Here are some things to do:

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  1. Try to get their license plate number so the police can trace them.
  2. Don't know license plate? Take down information about the make, model, and color of the car.
  3. Ask other witnesses if they can help identify the driver or car. Ask them to stay and talk with the police about what they saw.
  4. Call the police and make sure you wait to have them file a police report.
  5. While you are waiting for the police, call your insurance company and ask them what they would like you to do.

Emergency Kit for Car

Here is the car emergency kit I've given to my kids when they started driving. In addition, I've made sure that they had a good spare and knew how to use their car jack. Here are some essentials I make sure they have:

  1. Flares and Cones (to signal traffic there is an accident and to move people away).
  2. LED flashlight (for a night crash).
  3. Emergency Medical kit: include a foil blanket, some gaze and medical tape, band-aids, antibiotic ointment, wound cleaner, and pain reliever.
  4. Pen and notebook in the dash to write down information. It helps to have a list of what to write down pasted to the front of the notebook. You can also have this on your phone, but if the phone breaks during the crash or if you don't have service, you need a backup.
  5. Good spare tire and jack.
  6. Jumper cables.
  7. Duct Tape and 1-3 plastic bags (a great temporary fix for everything from a broken mirror, to a fallen off bumper, to a broken window).
  8. Roll of paper towels (for cleaning up or cleaning injuries).

Be Prepared to Help Others

Fewer people die in auto accidents because of better safeguards in cars. However, most drivers will be involved in an accident at least once. Many of us will be witnesses to accidents, whether as passengers or as passers-by. Be prepared to help out in an accident by making sure that everyone follows these guidelines to make sure they have all the information they need. Especially be sure to let your teenage drivers know what to do if they have an accident.

Auto Accident Poll

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Madeline Seabaugh on August 27, 2017:

Mrs. Kearney,

This is such a helpful article! I have yet to find myself in a serious accident (praise God) and I am glad to now have this wonderful information so that I am prepared. I hadn't thought to put flares or cones in my emergency kit. I also really like the idea of having a notebook with the lists of info I should obtain!


Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on August 25, 2017:

Hi Tina--I'm sorry to hear you were in an accident. I do think the police generally help out a lot, but it always helps to feel prepared yourself.

Tina Corbett on August 24, 2017:

I wish I would have read this before I got my license. When I was in my first car accident, I did not really know what information to get or give. I was crying and a mess, so the police handled most of it. If I read this before though, I would have been able to get all the information I needed. I think this should be included in driving education.

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on August 23, 2017:

Hi Jodi--I wrote this for my own kids, so that they would know what to do. Recently, my son's car was hit by another student and it was great to be able to tell him exactly what to do.

Jodi Lim on August 22, 2017:

I really loved this article! It was very well organized and simple to understand. I recently just got a car and I will definitely keep these things in mind if anything happens (hopefully nothing does!)

Cassidy Latham on January 16, 2017:

This was very helpful Mrs. Kearney! I especially liked the part about calling the insurance company to learn which auto shop to take it to. I do not want to cause more (money) damage by taking my car to an uninsured company!

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on August 29, 2016:

Lana--I totally agree! In fact, I worked very hard to teach my children to drive proactively to prevent problems. I'm very happy to say that the two of them have now driven a total of 6 years and never had an accident, not even one caused by someone else! My husband and I have gone over 24 years accident and ticket free too. However, even the most careful driving might not be enough, so I wanted them to know what to do, especially if they are not at fault!

Lana Rose on August 29, 2016:

Nice Info and very useful so just make sure that you drive with total concentration in that case you will never on the fault side so better take precautions which is better than cure.

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on August 23, 2016:

Paige--I'm so sorry to hear about your accident. I actually wrote this to help my two kids when they first started driving.

John on August 23, 2016:

Hopefully I will never to use these tips but still very helpful

Paige Blivin on August 23, 2016:

I wish I had read this the other day! When I was leaving church on Sunday the car behind me got t boned. I pulled over my car and sat there for a minute debating what to do. I finally got out to ask if everyone was okay. The girl was shaken up and confused. I had no idea what to telling her, having never experienced an accident before. She called her mom and the police; the took care of the situation. I am so thankful for this article! Now I know how to handle a car accident. Thank you for sharing so that next time I can be prepared.

Gabrielle Chaney on August 26, 2015:

Dr. Kearney,

This was a very useful and insightful article. The tips given and the information provided will be something I share with my sister, who is also a teen driver. I believe the tips will make the process, when dealing with an insurance company, less stressful. Gathering all the information at the accident scene and physically writing it all down will be useful, so a person will not forget what happened or the story gets flipped.

Gabrielle Chaney

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on August 26, 2015:

My daughter had her first accident recently and I realized that I had not given her this information, even though I had written it for her and my son! Luckily, it was really just a small scrape, so I think she didn't need all these steps, but I emailed this to her right away just to be sure she is ready next time.

Hannah Inbusch on August 26, 2015:

Mrs. Kearney,

This information was very useful and easy to do. I realized that I should probably have an emergency kit in my car in case of any emergency. Thank you!

Sincerely, Hannah Inbusch

Austin Cotton on August 25, 2015:

Very helpful, this gives a great overview to drivers who get in an accident and what to do and not do. Very beneficial to those who have not been in one before.

monia ben saad from In my Dream on December 02, 2014:

thank you for all advice great hub for first secure

Jessica Chiverton on November 27, 2014:

Very informative. Thank you.

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on November 10, 2014:

RTalloni--you are right about the shock you can be in during an accident. One minute you are driving toward a destination thinking about your day, and the next minute everything you'd planned has crashed. I was involved in a small fender bender accident with 3 cars and after we had agreed to move out of the way (which I now know was not the correct thing to do), one of the other drivers and I were stunned to realize that the one who had caused the accident had just driven off. We had not gotten any information from her. So it really is important to know what to do, so you are prepared ahead of time.

RTalloni on November 10, 2014:

Excellent tips to remember and to teach others, especially young drivers. Doing so could help give them pause for thought about driving habits…

As a side note, the last time I was in an accident the other party left the scene, then the ambulance, so I was left standing alone in traffic. It was very strange and I can still hardly believe that it happened…

One never knows what a day will bring so the tips you've put together for us are important to learn.

Biswajit Patnaik from Bhubaneswar on November 09, 2014:

Very informative and precise article,well done.

toknowinfo on October 24, 2014:

This is a very well done and impressive hub. It is filled with practical info that is useful for everyone. Thanks for putting this together.

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on October 24, 2014:

VJGSA--thanks for your experience. I really had no idea until I began researching this topic that I needed to be so careful about what I said. I am a person who naturally is appologetic, so I could really get myself into trouble. However, I grew up around lawyers, so I certainly believe that it is important to protect your own rights by not admitting fault. I also suspect that many times we may not always be able to tell exactly what happened when we are upset.

VJG from Texas on October 24, 2014:

Excellent list to bookmark on your smartphone. I was stoned faced during a recent fender bender; the other guy must have thought I was so angry that i was holding it in. At one time the other guy said: "you damaged my car." I knew that any response could trigger an exchange" I simply stayed on task of following the routine on your list.

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on October 24, 2014:

That is a great idea sallybea. I'm going to have to add this to the article.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on October 23, 2014:

Very useful info. It would be great to be able to print your list with blanks to put in the glove-box with a pen - when heaven forbid, one has an accident.

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on October 22, 2014:

Eric--you are right--these instructions assume that you are not injured in an accident. However, I think they are also helpful for anyone else who stops to help. As I wrote them, I imagined that someone would look them up on their phone to find out what to do. I looked at lots of different sources to make these lists (government, public health and insurance companies). I wanted to find the best information for myself and my own kids. Many of the websites you can visit for instructions don't really tell you everything you need to do. I wanted to be prepared!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 22, 2014:

Well done and excellent. Witnesses other than passengers are very helpful -- unless you are at fault ;-) One thing though, running around after an accident is not always healthy.

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