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What To Do After a Crash

Home » What To Do After a Crash
December 13, 2017
Edward Smith

what to do after a crash

What To Do After a Crash

I’m Ed Smith, a Vallejo Personal Injury Lawyer. Although car accidents happen on U.S. roads every minute of every day, most people are ill-prepared for when it happens to them. Knowing what to do and having a plan in place for when the unthinkable happens, is a wise thing.

Stay in Control

The most important thing to do when involved in an accident is to make sure that you are in control of the situation. Because accidents are never planned, thinking ahead is necessary. It’s good to keep a checklist in your glove box or on a document saved to your phone so that you can be sure you aren’t missing any important post-accident procedures.

Don’t Leave the Crash

Staying at the site of the accident until law enforcement representatives indicate that you can go is important, especially if somebody was injured in the accident. Leaving the scene of an accident can result in a hit-and-run. The charges range in severity from misdemeanor to felony. Even if the crash wasn’t your fault, staying at the scene is vital.

Check for Injuries

If you can, check the occupants of your car for both major and minor traumatic injuries. After this, do the same for the occupants of the other vehicle(s) that were involved in the accident. If you can, try to move the vehicles to a safe location. If a vehicle has caught fire, try to help the occupants of that vehicle to get out of the wreck. Of course, call 911 prior to doing any of the above.

Report the Accident

If anybody was injured during the crash, or if more than $1,000 in damages was caused, you need to call the police and report the collision. In the event that the crash occurred in a local area, call the local police or sheriff’s office. However, if the accident happened on the highway, you should contact California Highway Patrol (CHP). The police officer that comes to the scene will write down a police report. It’s smart to obtain a copy of this report as well as ask for the responding officer’s badge number and name.

Take Pictures

Use your cell phone to document the circumstances of the accident including damage to your vehicle, how the vehicles are positioned after the accident, and if there are any skid marks on the road. This kind of information can help investigators know if drivers were speeding or not paying attention to the road.

Also, if your photos of the incident show roadway defects or inclement weather conditions, they can seriously alter how courts and adjusters understand the accident.


If you are able to do it safely, exchange contact info with any other passengers and drivers. Additionally, write down the driver’s license number of the driver, registration, insurance information, and vehicle license for all involved vehicles.

Also, be sure to get the contact information of anybody who witnessed the crash and get them to make a short, recorded account of the accident.

Medical Care

It’s very important to see a doctor after you are involved in a crash. Frequently, injuries go unnoticed for days or even weeks until after a crash has occurred. Your physician will be able to document your injuries, which will benefit your case later on.

Call Your Insurance Agent and the DMV

If anybody was killed or injured or if damages were over $1,000, you need to call the DMV within 10 days. If a police report was filed at the accident, the police officer will forward the report to the DMV.

You also need to call your insurance company to report the accident. If you don’t do this, you might find that you aren’t covered. When you contact your insurance company, simply give them the facts regarding the accident. Occasionally, insurance representatives will ask questions or inform you that your report is being recorded. If this makes you uncomfortable, tell them to contact your lawyer.


Ed Smith, a personal injury lawyer in Vallejo

More From Vallejo Personal Injury Lawyer, Ed Smith ~

Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in Vallejo

I’m Ed Smith, a Vallejo personal injury lawyer. If a car accident has caused you serious injury, call (707) 564-1900 for free, friendly advice. If you live elsewhere, you can also reach me using or (800) 404-5400.

I’ve helped Vallejo residents with wrongful death and personal injury claims receive the funds they are legally owed for 35 years.

My practice has been reviewed on these sites: Google Avvo, and Yelp.

I’m in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a group for United States trial attorneys that have succeeded in winning or settling cases with values of over $1,000,000.

See my Previous Verdicts and Settlements. is Northern CA’s number one resource for current articles and information about personal injuries and vehicle accidents.

pic1: “car crash 2” by Dori under Public Domain

pic2: Vallejo personal injury attorney, Ed Smith

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