Car accidents can happen to anyone, at any time. In the stressful moments following a collision, it can be challenging to remember what to do. This checklist provides eight essential steps to ensure your safety, comply with the law, and protect your rights.

1. Check for Injuries and Ensure Safety

Safety is the priority. Check yourself and others for injuries. If anyone is hurt, call 911 immediately. Do not move anyone who is unconscious or reports severe neck or back pain unless there is an immediate hazard.

2. Move to a Safe Area (If Possible)

If the accident is minor and there are no serious injuries, move cars to the side of the road to avoid obstructing traffic. If the vehicles cannot be moved, turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers.

3. Call the Police

Even in minor accidents, a police report can be invaluable in dealing with your and the other party’s insurance companies. In many locations, the law requires a police report if the accident involves significant property damage, injury, or death.

4. Document the Scene

Take photographs of your car from different angles, showing the damage done to both cars. Also, photograph the area around the accident, any skid marks, road signs, and the positions of both vehicles. If there are witnesses, take notes on what they saw and get their contact information.

5. Exchange Information

Get the name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver’s license number, and license plate number of the involved parties. Do not discuss fault or make statements suggesting liability.

6. Report the Accident to Your Insurance

Notify your insurer immediately and begin the claims process. Be honest about the incident and your injuries. If the insurance company finds out that you’ve lied about anything, you can face serious consequences, including denial of coverage for the accident.

7. Seek Medical Attention

Often, injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents are not immediately apparent. Unless you are absolutely certain you were not injured, you should seek medical attention at your local emergency room or by seeing your family physician.

8. Keep a File

Keep all your accident-related documents and information together. This includes a claim number, the claims adjuster handling your case, names and phone numbers of all contacts, receipts for a rental car, and other expenses incurred due to the accident.

Bonus Tip: Consult an Attorney

Consider consulting a car accident attorney, especially if you have suffered significant injuries. A knowledgeable attorney can help ensure you receive full benefits from the insurance company and determine whether you can file a claim for additional damages against the party at fault.


A car wreck can leave you feeling uncertain and overwhelmed. Remembering these steps can help you to stay calm, protect your interests, and set the stage for a smoother recovery process. Always keep a copy of this checklist in your car – it’s a small step that can make a big difference in the heat of the moment.