What to Do (and Not Do) If You Get in a Car Accident

Hopefully you’ve never had a car accident and never will. You consider yourself a safe driver, but you have no control of the conduct of others on the road and their negligent or reckless driving may cause an accident at any time, anywhere. Do you know what to do if you are in a car accident?

The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Cousin Benny explain exactly what to do and what not to do if you get in a car accident in this helpful article.

If you’ve been in a car accident, call Cousin Benny to discuss your case, free of charge. At Cousin Benny, we treat you like family. Let us take care of you.

What Should I Do After A Car Accident?

These are the steps you should take if you are in a car accident and uninjured. If you are injured or have struck your head, allow emergency medical services to treat you first.

Call 911

Call 911 so that police and emergency medical services are aware of the accident and can attend the scene. 

In serious or multiple-vehicle accidents, the police will identify and deal with any road hazards caused by the accident to protect the public, setting up cones and blocking lanes as necessary. The fire department removes people stuck in crushed or overturned vehicles and removes or remediates vehicles on fire or at risk of combustion. EMS treats those injured at the scene and transports them to the emergency room as necessary.

Even if you are in what you consider a minor accident, call 911. Those involved in car accidents are not likely trained to spot and remediate the hazards the accident created, and because of the adrenaline coursing through their bodies in response to the accident, they cannot accurately assess the extent of their injuries. Let the authorities assess the scene and let EMS look you over.

The police will document the scene as found and note the time, road conditions, and the position and state of the vehicles involved as well as driver, passenger, and witness statements. The resulting police report and any citations issued will be valuable should anyone making a personal injury claim need to prove who was at fault.

Clear Vehicles from the Road

If you are able and the vehicles can be driven, remove them from the roadway – AFTER taking pictures of the vehicles’ relative positions and their condition, taking care to keep out of the way of passing vehicles.

Unfortunately, many car accidents are made worse in the interim between the accident occurring and the police arriving, because other vehicles passing may strike the vehicles in the accident or worse, strike one of the people in the accident.

The sooner everyone involved in the accident can get themselves and their vehicles out of the roadway, the better.

Exchange Information

Once everyone has moved their vehicles, exchange contact and insurance information. 

Document the Scene of the Accident

Cell phones and smartphones make taking pictures easy. Use your phone to document the scene as evidence.

Vehicle License Plates and Condition

Take pictures of the other vehicles’ license plate numbers and any identifying information on the vehicles, such as a company name, phone number, or business license number. Also take pictures of damage to any vehicles, including yours.

Photos of the Scene and Surroundings

Hopefully you were able to get a picture of the vehicles in the positions they were in just after the accident, but if not, get pictures of the scene now. Include pictures of skid marks, scrapes on the median, and other road conditions.

The Location of Video Surveillance Cameras

Your personal injury attorney will investigate the cause of the accident and identify the location of any video surveillance cameras that may have recorded the accident, including video door bells, commercial security cameras, and traffic speed cameras.

Collect Witness Statements and Contact Information

If you are able, get at least the name and cell phone numbers of anyone who saw the accident, in case their testimony is required to prove fault.

Seek Medical Attention

If you did not accept emergency medical treatment, visit your doctor or a walk-in clinic as soon as you can following your accident. The problem with some serious injuries such as traumatic brain injury or internal bleeding is that they rarely manifest at the scene, rather, they take time to have an effect and that effect may be fatal. Be sure to describe what happened to your body to your medical providers so that they can examine you and order the required tests.

Have a Trusted Mechanic Inspect Your Vehicle

Your insurance company will send their adjuster to appraise the damage done to your vehicle, but in the meantime, it helps you if you drive your vehicle or have your vehicle towed to your mechanic for inspection. Do not have any repairs performed until the insurance adjuster inspects the vehicle and your insurance company provides you with a repair estimate.

Call a Personal Injury Attorney for Case Advice

If you were injured in a car accident, you probably incurred some unreimbursed medical bills and perhaps missed work. If someone else was at fault for causing the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for that, even if your injuries were relatively minor. 

Call an experienced personal injury lawyer in your jurisdiction to find out if you have a case and how much it is worth.

What to Do after a Minor Car Accident?

You might be relieved to be in a car accident with little damage and no discernable injuries. The insurance companies will just work it out, right?

Not always. The lawyers at Cousin Benny explain what to do if you’ve been in a minor car accident to avoid unintentional consequences, protect your rights, and safeguard your health and safety.

If you’ve had a minor car accident and are struggling to get the insurance company to pay, or worse, the other driver is alleging injuries or damage that did not occur, call Cousin Benny for help today. We will discuss your case with you free of charge and make sure you understand all of your options.

What Qualifies as a Minor Accident?

What qualifies as a minor car accident is entirely subjective, however, it is safe to say that minor car accidents are those with no injuries and little property damage, such as the following:

  • Slight Fender Bender
  • Busted Headlight or Taillight
  • Small Dent in Vehicle
  • Cracked Windshield
  • Busted Tire
  • Broke Side Mirror Off

In most minor car accidents, drivers can move their vehicles from the roadway to safety and exchange contact and insurance information.

Major vs. Minor Injuries

Car accidents frequently cause impact injuries to drivers and passengers that may result in brain trauma or internal bleeding. These injuries do not manifest immediately and pain is often masked by adrenaline, so people do not realize right away they are injured. 

If you hit your head, were struck by an airbag, or your torso was flung violently into your seatbelt, be sure to tell emergency medical services at the scene. If they recommend you go to the hospital for scans and tests, go. 

What to Do after a Minor Accident

There are several steps you can take to stay safe, attend to your injuries, and preserve your rights after a minor car accident.

Call 911

Calling 911 summons the police and emergency medical services, and perhaps the fire department if warranted. While this may seem like overkill in the case of a minor car accident, you just having been in that accident are not in the best position to assess the severity of the accident and whether you are injured. Call 911 for help.

When Do You Need to Report a Minor Accident to Law Enforcement?

This varies by state. For example, New Jersey requires motorists to call the police if the damage is estimated to be $500 or more, while in Pennsylvania, the law does not require you to report car accidents to the police where there are no injuries and the cars may be driven away on their own. 

This said, you would be wise to call the police in any type of car accident however minor it seems. Having a police report may help you get the compensation you need following the accident.

Don’t Block Traffic

Usually in a minor car accident the vehicle involved can be driven. Safely move the vehicles out of traffic lanes to the shoulder or better yet, to a parking lot, where everyone can safely exit the vehicles.

Check for Injuries

Drivers and passengers alike should check for injuries. Again, some internal injuries are not apparent when they occur, so be sure to consult with emergency medical services when they arrive.

Stay Calm and Don’t Accept Blame

Before approaching the other driver or drivers, resolve to keep calm and not discuss the cause of the accident. In Pennsylvania, drivers are apportioned fault for causing an accident and those who are 50% or less at fault may recover damages, less the percentage of fault. 

For this reason fault is a highly litigated factor in car accidents. Do not admit fault, and do take note of anything anyone else says regarding the cause of the accident.

Get Contact and Insurance Information

Take pictures of the other drivers’ licenses, registrations, and insurance cards. This is the quickest and easiest way to have them on hand.

Take Pictures

Also photograph the damage to your vehicle and any other vehicle, and the condition of everyone involved. This might prove useful should someone assert they were gravely injured, yet you have photographs of them walking and talking normally at the scene. The absence of torn or ripped clothing may indicate no injuries.  

Don’t Negotiate on the Scene

The other driver may want you to not call the police, especially for a minor car accident with damage that is less than your deductible. They may offer you cash on the spot to just drive away. Why? 

Perhaps they do not want their insurance company to know about the accident, or perhaps they do not have car insurance. Either way, the best way to protect yourself from future liability is to call the police and get a police report.

Notify Your Auto Insurer

You must inform your insurance company that you’ve been in an accident. Give them the facts only. Do not admit fault. 

An insurance adjustor may need to inspect your vehicle before it is repaired, so do not undertake car repairs until that is complete. Ask your insurance company if you get reimbursed for the cost of a rental car – getting one will make your life a lot easier until car repairs are complete.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney to Protect Your Rights

Even if a car accident seems minor and it looks like no one was hurt, you should call a car accident lawyer in your jurisdiction to ensure your rights are protected and you get the compensation you deserve. Let your lawyer handle the insurance companies and the other drivers for you to get the best result possible. 

About the Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Cousin Benny

At Cousin Benny, we treat you like family. Our car accident lawyers have over 15 years of collective experience dealing with lawsuits in Philadelphia involving auto accidents. Let us help you through this – call today to find out what your case is worth, free of charge!

What Shouldn’t I Do After A Car Accident?

Don’t Admit Fault

Refrain from talking with other individuals in the accident apart from getting their contact and insurance information, but take note of anything they say to you, such as “I didn’t see you” or “I thought I could beat that stoplight” or “My brakes failed, sorry!” 

Don’t Avoid Medical Treatment

If you were in a car accident, you may feel that you escaped relatively unscathed at first. The rush of adrenaline you experience protects you from pain in the short term and may be masking serious injuries. Also, severe and sometimes fatal injuries such as internal bleeding or brain injuries are not apparent at first. 

Tell EMS what happened to your body in the accident – they are trained to recognize how traumatic injuries happen and what to do. If you hit your head, especially, you would be wise to accept emergency medical treatment and get the scans you need to ensure you did not suffer a brain injury.

Never Accept a Settlement Right Away

You may be contacted by your insurance company or the insurer of another driver involved in the accident with a settlement offer in the week or two following the accident. You would be wise not to accept.

Why? First, insurance companies are like any other type of business in that they exist to make a profit. The more they collect in premiums and the less they pay out in claims, the more profit they make. Their interests are directly opposed to yours.

Second, insurance companies prey on the vulnerability of those injured in a car crash. They hope you will accept an initial low-ball settlement offer just to resolve the situation and make it go away. Here’s where an experienced personal injury attorney acts as a buffer between you and the insurance company, handling all settlement negotiations for you and litigating if necessary.

Third and most important, you do not yet know the extent of your damages, so how can you know if an early settlement offer is sufficient to cover them? You may still be under medical supervision and have no idea how long it will take to heal and what medical treatment you may need in the future. 

An experienced personal injury attorney will consult with medical experts to determine the cost of your future care, and if your injury impedes your ability to do your job, consult with forensic accountants to determine the impact of your injury on your earning capacity.

Avoid Making Recorded Statements

Most calls with insurance companies are recorded. Do not admit fault and refrain from discussing the details of the accident with the insurance company in case you say something that undermines your claim. Refer them to your car accident attorney.

Never Answer Questions You Are Not Asked

Again, in conversations with police or the insurance company, do not offer more information than you are asked for. Chatting about the accident opens the door to unintended admissions that may undermine your claim.

Refrain From Using Social Media

Last, you may be tempted to post about your car accident on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, thinking that only your friends and followers will see the post. Ultimately, social media is not all that private. Be advised that savvy insurance company lawyers subpoena social media accounts and can use any admissions on social media against you.

Speak to the Philadelphia Car Accident Injury Lawyers at Cousin Benny

Your job is to rest and heal from your injuries. Let the car accident lawyers at Cousin Benny fight the insurance company for you and get you every penny you deserve. Call us today to find out how much your car accident case is worth in a free, no-obligation consultation. We look forward to helping you.

Benjamin Hoffman

Benjamin Hoffman is a practicing attorney licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey as well as the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Benjamin handles cases for individuals who have been injured as a result of an accident, slip/trip and fall or medical negligence.

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Benjamin Hoffman

Benjamin Hoffman is a practicing attorney licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey as well as the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Benjamin handles cases for individuals who have been injured as a result of an accident, slip/trip and fall or medical negligence.
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