Skip to main content
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Car Accident Dos and Don'ts

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, the following are some "do's and don'ts" to help protect you or your loved one's right to a legal remedy for harm suffered.

Prepare yourself ahead of time by printing out this helpful pamphlet on first steps after an auto accident and storing it in your glove compartment.

The DOs

  • DO seek medical attention before doing anything else.
  • DO call the police to the scene of the accident, in appropriate cases (e.g. where there are injuries, severe property damage, or crimes committed).
  • DO cooperate with all law enforcement and emergency personnel who respond to the scene.
  • DO get the license plate numbers of all other vehicles involved in car accidents and the drivers' names, addresses, telephone numbers, and insurance information.
  • DO write down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all potential witnesses to an accident before the witnesses leave the area where the accident occurred.
  • DO contact your car insurance company to file a claim.
  • DO take photographs of all of the following, as applicable, as soon as possible after the accident:
    • The scene of the accident, from all angles.
    • The surrounding area.
    • The product or animal that caused your injuries.
    • Your injuries, including taking pictures over the time it takes your injuries to heal.
    • Any property damage.
  • DO keep track of all work missed because of the accident and follow-up medical appointments, all medical treatment received, and how you felt physically and emotionally because of your injuries.
  • DO get a property damage valuation from your insurance company or from two independent shops if you aren't satisfied with how your insurance company has valued the damage to your car.
  • DO contact your attorney. If you don't have an attorney or your attorney is unable to take car accident cases, contact a qualified attorney in your area. For more information, read this article on how to hire a car accident attorney.

The DON'Ts

  • DON'T move your vehicle after an automobile accident unless necessary for safety or required by law. If there are no injuries or significant damage to your vehicle, moving your vehicle out of the way of traffic is a prudent way to avoid additional safety risks.
  • DON'T put yourself at risk of being further injured by standing or waiting in an area with traffic or other safety hazards.
  • DON'T leave the scene of an accident until the police tell you it's okay to do so, or until you have obtained all required information and the police will not be arriving.
  • DON'T throw away any potential evidence in the case, such as defective products, torn or bloodstained clothing, or car parts that came off the car during the accident.
  • DON'T remain in a burning car or building while calling for help. Leave the area of danger first, and then immediately call 911 from a safe place.
  • DON'T engage in discussions about who was at fault in the accident with anyone, and make sure you don't apologize for anything - it can be considered evidence that you were legally at fault.
  • DON'T agree to settlement terms without contacting your attorney and having him or her review the settlement offer.

Filing a Car Accident Claim? An Attorney Can Help

While these tips will get you started in the right direction, it's always a good idea to meet with an experienced attorney, especially if a serious injury is involved. Car accident cases are often complicated, and will typically require witnesses, medical evidence, and a detailed knowledge of negligence law to succeed. Get started today and contact an experienced injury attorney near you.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Next Steps

Contact a qualified auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Help Me Find a Do-It-Yourself Solution

Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • A lawyer can help seek fair compensation on your behalf
  • Car accident claims are complex and insurance carriers have lawyers on their side

Get tailored legal advice and ask a lawyer questions about your accident. Many attorneys offer free consultations.


 If you need an attorney, find one right now.

Copied to clipboard

Find a Lawyer

More Options