You’ve Been in a Car Accident: Here are 10 Steps You Need to Take Right Away

You have been in a car crash, now what? If your car is totaled and you think you are not at fault, you should do a few things before and immediately following leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident. First and foremost, always remain calm. Here are ten things you need to keep in mind the next time you are in an auto accident.

1. Move to a Safer Area

If you can, move the car off to the shoulder of the highway. You should be certain you are completely off the road. It will give you peace of mind to know that you will not be hit by other passing motorists.

It is important to be aware that if your car is totaled it may malfunction or catch on fire. If it seems that your vehicle or the other car involved in the auto accident is going to catch fire, distance you and your passengers a safe distance away from the scene. 

2. Check Yourself for Injuries

First things first, if you are in a car crash you will want to check yourself for injuries. If you are injured, you will want to express this at the scene of the accident. It may be smart to go to the hospital to evaluate any possible injuries, seen and unseen. 

3. Check the Well-Being of Your Passengers

If your injuries are minimal, you will want to check on your passengers, especially if any of your passengers are children. If you or any of your passengers are injured, you will want to call an ambulance immediately. If you are not able to call the ambulance by yourself, you can ask a by-standard to call an ambulance for you.

4. Call 911

It is important to remember that every time you are in a motor vehicle accident, you should call the police – especially if your car is totaled. Many states require it. . The police will know what to do and document all the necessary information about the accident. 

5. Document the Accident

It is essential to gather as much information as possible. You should record personal testaments from the other drivers as well as witnesses and first responders. The information you collect from all available prospects at the scene will aid and protect you in the future. Be sure to state that you are “not at fault” to the police if the other driver caused the accident.  

6. Exchange Information

If you are involved in a car crash, you will want to exchange information and documentation with the other driver(s) at the scene. Be careful, if you say too much to the other driver(s), as you may inadvertently admit to guilt even if you are not at fault.  

The only information you need to exchange with the other driver(s) is your name, contact information, and the information about your insurance company.

You will want to gather as much info as you can while at the scene. Here are some tips:

  • You will want the name, contact information, and insurance information of all drivers involved in the auto accident.
  • If the other drivers are willing to do so, you will want to program their phone number(s) into your phone.
  • Do not forget the witness information.
  • Take photos of all the damage to your vehicle.
  • Call the police and obtain a police report number.
  • Do not forget to get the officer’s name and best contact information for the reporting police officer on the scene.
  • You need to take some notes for yourself of what happened. These personal notes will assist you later.

Several smartphone apps will assist you in documenting the details of the crash. These apps are provided by most insurance companies, and can be found in your local app store. You can input audio, typed, photo and video information, then an email will be sent to you and your insurance company. This is another good opportunity to continue to build the case that you were not at fault. 

If you do not have a smartphone, it is smart to get out a paper and pen and draw a diagram of the scene, while it is fresh in your mind. This may come in handy later. 

7. Determine the Insurance Coverage That Applies to This Incident

Your insurance’s coverage depends on many factors. A big factor is who is or is not at fault in the car accident. It will also depend on the type of coverage you and any other driver involved in the car accident have.  Here’s a rundown of how the insurance works.

For You and Your Passengers

  • For Your Car: If you are not found at fault in the crash, the other driver’s property damage insurance will cover the cost of the repairs for your vehicle. Coverage will include all damages up to the maximum of their property damage liability on their policy.


  • For Your Medical Expenses: If you do not live in one of the twelve no-fault states, the other driver’s bodily injury insurance will come into play. Your coverage depends on maximum liability that the other driver carries. If you do live in one of the twelve no-fault states, your insurance company will cover your injuries.

Sometimes, the other driver will not have auto insurance or will be underinsured. If this is the case, your insurance company would cover these expenses under your own underinsured and uninsured motorist clause.

8. Decide if You are Going to File a Claim

Sometimes, it may be tempting to not file a claim to avoid paying higher insurance prices. In this case, if you have damage to your vehicle and it is not your fault, the other driver will pay out-of-pocket for the cost of your repairs. In Ohio, your insurance company is not allowed to raise your rates for an accident that is not your fault.

  1. Notify Your Insurer and Start the Claims Process

It should come as no surprise that you should need to contact your insurance company and begin the claims process. You should do this even if the accident was your fault. The insurance agent at the office you call will take down all the information necessary to the situation. Making a claim with your insurance company will make it easier for you to move past the car accident and carry on with your life.

10. Get Your Vehicle Repaired

After filing the claim, you will want to get your car repaired. It is best to talk with your insurance provider about car repairs. Typically, insurance companies will assist you in finding a repair shop near you. The agent should discuss your deductible payment, and assist you in finding a rental automobile to use while your car is in the collision shop. You may be eligible for rental reimbursement, but talk to your insurance provider if you qualify.