What Should You Do After a Car Accident?
An accident can leave you in shock and confused about what to do. The following are steps you should take after an accident:
- Stay at the accident scene. Don’t leave the scene, but move your vehicle to the shoulder if possible. If you have flares or cones, put them out to warn other drivers.
- Call the police. Dial 911. Until the police arrive, avoid moving anyone at the scene who is seriously injured. Even if no one appears to be hurt, call the police, as you have a legal duty to report the accident. Don’t let the other driver talk you out of reporting the collision.
- Stay mum. Don’t admit fault. In fact, the less you say at the scene, the better.
- Exchange information. Politely get the other driver's name, address, phone number, license number, tag number and insurance company information. Note the year, model and make of all vehicles involved in the accident. Get any witnesses' contact information.
- Take photos. Use your cellphone to take photos of the vehicles, the accident scene and the roadway where the accident occurred.
- Contact your insurance company. Insurance companies require you to report accidents to them promptly. Do not sign anything the insurer presents you without first consulting an attorney.
- Get a copy of the accident report. Ask the responding police officer when and where the report will be available. You can also get accident reports from the Washington State Patrol.
- Contact a lawyer. An attorney can protect your interests if you caused the accident, or help you recover compensation if the other driver was at fault.
An experienced attorney will handle insurance company communications and manage the settlement negotiations. If necessary, a personal injury lawyer will represent your interests at trial.