What Should I Do Immediately After a Car Accident?

motor vehicle accidents car accident lawyer NYC

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that more than six million car accidents occur annually in the United States. So, what should you do immediately after a car accident to navigate the situation effectively? 

After a car accident, prioritize safety. Move to a safe location, check for any injuries, and call 911. Exchange information with the other party, including insurance details. Document the scene with photos and gather witness contacts. Notify your insurance company promptly. Seeking medical attention, even for minor injuries, is recommended.

What To Do Immediately After a Car Accident?

Car accidents can be frightening and disorienting, but it’s essential to know exactly what to do in the immediate aftermath to maintain your safety, protect your legal rights, and facilitate the claims process. Thus, here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do after a car accident:

1. Dial 911 to Report the Accident

Always remain at the accident scene, regardless of the accident’s severity. Leaving prematurely can lead to legal complications, such as heavy penalties or even jail.

If possible, call 911 immediately. Inform the dispatcher about the accident’s location and any injuries sustained. Request both medical assistance and law enforcement to respond to the scene.

Lastly, if your vehicle is still working and it’s safe to do so, move it off the road to the right shoulder. This minimizes the risk of additional accidents and ensures everyone’s safety.

2. Make an Accurate Record

When the police arrive, be honest and provide them with an accurate account of what happened to the best of your ability. Do not guess or speculate. If you’re unsure about injuries, it’s better to say so rather than claiming there are none. This is because some injuries may become apparent later.

Moreover, make sure to request a copy of the police report. It contains valuable information about the accident, including witness statements and the officer’s assessment. This document can be instrumental in your claims process.

3. Document Everything

Use your smartphone or camera to take photographs of the car crash scene, vehicle damage, license plates, and the surrounding area.

Note down details of the entire accident scene, like the positions of the vehicles, traffic patterns, date, time, location, weather conditions, and road signs.

4. Exchange Information

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), after a car accident, drivers should exchange the full name and contact information, insurance company and policy number, vehicle identification number, license and license plate number, and type, color, and model of vehicles involved in the accident.

If there are witnesses, gather their contact information. Witnesses can provide valuable statements for insurance settlements or legal proceedings if necessary.

5. Notify Your Insurance Company

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. They will guide you on the necessary steps to file a claim.

Listen carefully to your insurance company’s instructions. They may request specific information, such as the police report, photos, and accident details.

6. Seek Medical Attention

It’s essential to seek immediate medical treatment after a car accident, even if you don’t feel injured.

Some injuries may not become apparent until hours or even days later. If you experience discomfort, pain, dizziness, or other unusual symptoms following the accident, seek medical attention promptly.

7. Preserve Medical Records and Bills

Keep copies of all medical records, including diagnoses, treatment plans, and any X-rays/MRIs taken. Save all receipts for medical expenses related to the accident. These records are crucial for insurance claims and potential legal actions.

Check if your auto insurance coverage includes medical benefits (“medpay”) and use them for accident-related medical bills.

8. Keep a File

Keep all accident-related documents together. This should include auto insurance claim numbers, adjuster contacts, receipts for expenses (like a rental car), and any other relevant information.

9. Contact a Car Accident Attorney

If the accident results in significant injuries, complex liability issues, or disputes with the insurance adjuster, consider consulting with a personal injury lawyer. They can guide you through the legal process, protect your rights, and make sure you receive appropriate compensation.

By following these comprehensive steps, you not only prioritize safety but also lay the foundation for a smoother claims process. Proper documentation and timely reporting are essential for maximizing compensation for your car accident claim.

What Not To Do After a Car Accident?

motor vehicles accident

After a car accident, avoid admitting fault, arguing, or leaving the scene. Refrain from delaying medical attention and failing to report the incident to law enforcement. Studies indicate that not seeking timely medical help or neglecting to report accidents promptly can complicate insurance claims and legal matters.

Don’t Panic

While feeling stressed or anxious after an accident is natural, it’s important to remain as calm as possible. Panic can cloud your judgment and hinder your ability to assess the situation accurately.

Don’t Leave the Scene

Staying at the scene until law enforcement completes its investigation is essential. Leaving too early may result in a hit-and-run charge, even if you believe the accident was minor. Cooperate with the police, provide necessary information, and only leave when instructed to do so.

Never Admit Fault

Accidents happen quickly, and the details can be confusing in the immediate aftermath. Admitting fault without fully understanding the facts can harm your position in insurance claims or legal proceedings. Leave the determination of fault to professionals who can assess all the evidence.

Don’t Argue or Blame

Avoid getting into arguments with other parties involved in the accident. Emotions can run high, but arguing won’t help the situation. Instead, focus on exchanging information and cooperating with law enforcement.

Don’t Avoid Delaying Medical Attention

Injuries may not always be immediately clear, and delaying medical evaluation can worsen your condition. Additionally, a delay in seeking treatment can be used against you by insurance companies, suggesting that your injuries were not related to the accident.

Don’t Discuss the Accident on Social Media

Refrain from posting about an auto accident on social media platforms. Anything you say or post online could potentially be used against you in the future.

Don’t Speak to Other Parties’ Insurance Without Legal Advice

While it’s essential to cooperate with your auto insurance company, providing statements to the other driver’s insurance company without legal counsel can be risky. They may use your words against you to minimize their liability. It’s often advisable to consult with an attorney before speaking with them.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can safeguard your rights, improve your chances of a fair settlement, and ensure a smoother process when dealing with the aftermath of a car accident.

How to File an Insurance Claim After a Car Crash?

After a car collision, filing an insurance claim involves a few key steps to ensure a smooth insurance claim process.

If the other driver is at fault, their insurance typically covers damage to your car and medical bills based on their liability limits. However, if you reside in a “no-fault” state, your own personal injury protection might come into play for medical expenses. In cases where the at-fault driver lacks insurance or carries insufficient coverage, your own insurance policy’s uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage becomes a safety net.

If you’re at fault, your insurance steps in to manage the repercussions. Your bodily injury coverage addresses injuries sustained by the other driver and their passengers within the limits of your policy. Simultaneously, your property damage liability coverage handles damage to the other driver’s vehicle. If you possess comprehensive and collision insurance, it covers your vehicle’s damage, with the reimbursement capped at its current market value after deductibles. Medical expenses resulting from the accident are covered by your insurance up to the limits of your medical payments or PIP coverage.

Once the limits are reached, any additional medical expenses for you and your passengers are typically managed through individual health insurance. Additionally, check if your policy extends coverage for a rental car for the other driver in case their vehicle needs repairs. Remember, prompt reporting and documentation are crucial for a hassle-free claims process.

Main Causes of Car Accidents in New York

In New York, various factors contribute to car accidents, shedding light on the need for heightened awareness and preventive measures. The primary cause, with a staggering 28,753 incidents, is driver inattention or distraction. This highlights the critical importance of staying focused while behind the wheel. Failure to yield the right-of-way ranks second, resulting in 7,823 accidents, emphasizing the significance of understanding and adhering to traffic rules.

Following too closely comes in at number three, causing 7,765 accidents, underscoring the importance of maintaining a safe distance to avoid collisions. Improper passing or lane usage, with 5,126 incidents, and passing too closely, with 3,967, emphasize the need for cautious and strategic maneuvering on the road.

Unsafe speed, contributing to 3,940 accidents, reinforces the necessity of adhering to speed limits for road safety. Traffic control disregarded (3,238), backing unsafely (3,152), turning improperly (2,514), and unsafe lane changing (2,449) round out the top ten causes, highlighting the importance of respecting traffic signals, exercising caution when reversing, and making proper turns and lane changes.

Understanding these prevalent causes provides valuable insights for both drivers and policymakers to address and mitigate the risks associated with these behaviors, ultimately promoting safer roads in New York.

How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You After a Car Accident?

A car accident lawyer can be your ally in navigating the aftermath of a car accident, providing invaluable assistance in various ways. First and foremost, they help you understand your rights and legal options. This includes explaining the complexities of insurance policies, determining liability, and outlining potential compensation avenues.

Survey reports consistently highlight the importance of legal representation. According to a study by the Insurance Research Council, individuals who hire an attorney often receive higher settlement amounts than those who navigate the process alone. Attorneys are experienced and skilled at dealing with insurance companies to make sure you get the highest compensation for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, mental anguish, and other damages.

Moreover, the NHTSA reports that proper evidence collection and case preparation enhance the chances of a successful claim. Car accident lawyers excel in this aspect, meticulously gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and collaborating with experts to build a robust case supporting your claims.

Lastly, a car accident lawyer provides peace of mind during a stressful time. They handle the legal complexities, allowing you to focus on recovery. Many work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if you receive compensation, making legal representation accessible to those who may be hesitant due to financial concerns.

Consult with Uptown Injury New York Car Accident Lawyers

When you’ve been in a car accident, uncertainty and stress can overwhelm you. Turn to Uptown Injury Law, PLLC, where we promise:

  • No Win, No Fee: We understand the financial strain that legal representation can bring. Rest assured, we only get paid when we win your case.
  • Full Compensation: You can count on us to help you recover economic and noneconomic damages. This includes covering medical expenses and ensuring compensation for the physical and emotional distress you’ve experienced.
  • Personalized Attention: We treat your case with the utmost care and attention it deserves. Our experienced car accident lawyers are devoted to your well-being.
  • Simplified Process: We make the legal process easy to understand and navigate, allowing you to focus on your recovery while we handle the case complexities.

So, what are you waiting for? Call 917-540-8728 now for a free consultation.


Is Documenting Damage Important in Minor Accidents?

Yes, documenting damage is crucial in minor accidents. Even seemingly small incidents can have significant consequences, and thorough documentation, including photos and written notes, provides valuable evidence for insurance claims or legal proceedings.

What Is the First Thing You Should Do in a Car Accident?

The first and foremost step in a car accident is to assess your injuries. Immediately check for any injuries and call 911 for medical assistance. It’s crucial to prioritize your well-being, and in case of serious injuries, avoid moving and wait for medical help.

What Not to Say After a Car Accident?

After a car accident, avoid saying, “I’m sorry.” While it may seem polite, it can be seen as an admission of fault and potentially impact the liability assessment. Instead, focus on ensuring everyone’s safety and gathering necessary information calmly.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From a Car Accident Mentally?

Mental recovery after a car accident varies from person to person and depends on the severity of the incident. It may take weeks, months, or even longer to overcome trauma and regain a sense of well-being. Hence, seeking professional support through therapy or counseling can significantly aid mental healing.

Why You Should Not Apologize After a Car Accident?

Avoid apologizing after a car accident because saying “sorry” can be used as evidence against you. Insurance providers may leverage this apology to reduce liability, potentially leading to lower compensation for injuries or property damage. Instead, focus on gathering information and ensuring everyone’s safety.

What Happens Immediately After an Accident?

Immediately after an accident, several critical steps unfold. Firstly, ensure safety by staying at the scene and calling 911. This initiates the official accident report process, which is crucial for insurance claims and legal matters. Simultaneously, document the scene, exchange information with the other driver(s), and, if needed, seek prompt medical attention.

How Many Traffic Accidents Occur in NY State Each Year?

New York State experienced a significant 371,368 traffic accidents in the most recent year, according to data from the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Thus, these numbers emphasize the pressing need to address road safety concerns in the region.

How Do You Treat Yourself After an Accident?

After an accident, prioritize self-care by seeking immediate medical attention to address any injuries. Follow medical advice, attend necessary appointments, and keep records. Additionally, lean on your support network and consider consulting a legal professional if required for your recovery.

How Many Car Accidents in New York 2022?

In 2022, New York witnessed a total of 100,508 car accidents. Shockingly, 38% of these incidents, totaling 37,848, resulted in injuries or fatalities, emphasizing the significant impact and potential dangers on the state’s roads.

Will My Insurance Rates Go Up After a Car Collision?

Not necessarily, as insurance rate increases after a car accident depend on various factors. While some insurers may raise rates for at-fault accidents, others consider accident forgiveness or specific policies that prevent immediate increases. Therefore, it’s crucial to review your insurance policy and discuss potential impacts with your provider to get a clear understanding of how a car accident might affect your rates.


Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers
Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers

This content is trustworthy because it has been thoroughly researched, fact-checked and reviewed by experts in the field. The information provided is accurate and reliable, and sources have been cited to ensure transparency and credibility. The authors or publishers of this content have a reputation for producing high-quality, unbiased material. Additionally, any potential conflicts of interest or biases have been disclosed. Overall, readers can trust that the information presented in this content is trustworthy and credible.