So, You’ve Experienced a Car Crash: What to Do Next

Last Updated on August 7, 2023 by John Robinson

Car wrecks happen all across the country. If you’ve never experienced one, you may not know what to do in the aftermath.

These situations aren’t easy, but if you know the steps you must take beforehand, you can spring into action after a vehicular collision. We’ll talk about what steps you must follow after an accident right now.

You Must File an Accident Claim

You must follow the same basic protocols after car accidents everywhere, but certain states have particular rules you must follow. Let’s use California as an example.

State law says you must file an accident report within 24 hours. Normally, you do that when the police arrive and you talk to them.

If you decide filing a lawsuit makes sense, there’s a limitations statute. Californians must file accident claims within two years. Not all accidents require this, though. If the other driver caused the crash, and they admit it, you probably will not file a lawsuit afterward.  

Tell the 911 Operator if You Need an Ambulance

When you call 911 after a car accident, you can tell the 911 operator if you need medical help. Maybe you feel an adrenaline rush after the wreck. You might not feel the crash hurt you, but you may start feeling the pain once you calm down and your heart stops racing.

You should also check on your passengers if you have any in the car. You should check on the other vehicle’s driver and passengers. 

Many times, the 911 operator should send an ambulance just for safety’s sake. Someone might not immediately acknowledge an injury right after the crash, but they’ll feel it a few minutes afterward.

Tell the Police What Happened

When the police arrive, you can tell them what occurred. Try not to embellish or leave anything out. You do not need to say you caused the accident or the other driver caused it. The facts should make that clear.

You must give the police your name, license plate number, and insurance information. They might ask for additional information, and you should hold nothing back.

You should not leave the accident scene under any circumstances. That is illegal in California and other states as well.

Decide if You Can Drive Your Car

If you injured yourself in the accident, maybe you will go to the hospital at this point. If so, someone else must move your car.

If you decide you do not need medical attention, you can look over your vehicle and see if you can drive it home. Maybe you can if you got in a minor fender bender.

If you can’t drive your car because the accident totaled it, you must call a tow truck instead. If you have AAA or a similar roadside service membership, now you can use it. You can get a tow truck driver to hook up your car and drive it to the nearest mechanic.

They might give you a lift to the mechanic as well. If that is not possible, you might call for a taxi or an Uber.

Figure Out What Repairs the Car Needs

When the vehicle gets to the mechanic, they can figure out what repairs it needs. Maybe they have the necessary parts, or perhaps they must order them. If they say the accident totaled the car, you must start looking for a new vehicle. Presumably, you need a car again quickly for work and other purposes.

Contact Your Insurance Provider

After you get home, you can contact your car insurance provider and tell them what happened. You can explain the accident. Do not admit you caused the wreck. The details should make clear who initiated the collision.

In the following days, you can figure out whether you need a lawyer. Car accident attorneys can help you if you decide you must sue the other driver because they hurt you, and they won’t admit they caused the collision.

Lawyers can help you with each step as you prepare to face the other driver in court. Your lawyer might get a settlement offer from the other driver if they can produce enough evidence showing the other driver caused the wreck.
After your lawsuit concludes, you’ll try to resume your life. You can usually get past a car wreck in time, but maybe you’ll experience some lingering anxiety. That should pass eventually. Many people experience car wrecks, and they move on with their lives with no issues.

John Robinson
John Robinson

Howdy! I’m John Robinson from Levittown, New York. I am a mechanical engineer for 15 years and already had an established car repair company. I developed a personal relationship with cars since I was a kid. I always love the sounds and smell emitted by a car or truck and even at construction machinery. Since then I have been married but my love for cars only grew.