What to do After a Car Accident

A quick and easy primer on the basics of what to do after a car accident and your rights post-accident.

Vic Gutierrez, Esq. | co-founder Lawyer Vets APC

4/11/20242 min read

what to do after car accident
what to do after car accident

What to do - Immediate Steps

  1. Check for injuries and call emergency services if needed.

  2. Move to a safe area away from traffic if possible.

  3. Call the police to report the accident, even for minor incidents.

  4. Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver(s) involved.

  5. Document the accident scene by taking photos/videos of vehicle damage, injuries, road conditions, etc.

  6. Obtain contact information from any witnesses.

  7. Do not admit fault or provide a recorded statement to the other party's insurance company.

  8. Notify your insurance company promptly to file a claim.

  9. Seek medical attention, even for minor injuries, and get documentation.

  10. Be proactive during the insurance investigation process.

What to do - Next Steps

So, what now? If you're scratching your head over this, you're not alone. This guide will help you navigate the maze of personal injury law in California. Read on to learn more.

(For the basics on injury law nationwide, check out the American Bar Association)

The Four Must-Knows of Car Accident Cases

Imagine your legal case is like a fortress. You need solid walls for protection:

  1. Duty of Care: Basically, someone wasn't supposed to harm you.

  2. Breach of Duty: Oops, they slipped up, and you ended up in an accident.

  3. Injuries or Damages: This is about the hurt or hassles the accident caused you.

  4. Causation: It's all about connecting their slip-up to your injuries.

The Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law school breaks these down in depth.

Who pays the Compensation?

Compensation is most often paid by the insurance company, either in part or in whole. In some situations, compensation is paid by the responsible person or company.

When is Compensation Appropriate?

Compensation is appropriate for:

  • Bills and Money You Missed Out On: Think medical bills and lost paychecks.

  • The Aches and Pains: For your suffering due to another person's negligence.

  • A Lesson Learner: Sometimes the jury and/or judge determine that a person's negligence was so egregious that a financial punishment is necessary.

If you're interested, the CDC spells out the cost of nationwide injury impacts and expenses.


Accidents knock the wind out of you but with the right know-how and an attorney by your side if necessary, you can turn a tough break into a strong comeback.