What to Do After a Car Accident That Is Your Fault
Created by FindLaw's team
of legal writers and editors.
You only took your eyes off the road for a second, but that’s all it took for the light to change. You collided with another car in the intersection and you think it was probably your fault. What do you do now?
Getting in a car accident can be scary. When the collision is your fault, it can feel even worse. There are some common-sense steps to take right after any car accident. But when you may be at fault for the collision, there are a few things you should never do.
What to Do
No matter how careful you are, you can be involved in a car accident. Remember these steps to protect your rights and save you hassle down the road.
- Call the police: In many states, you are required to call the police after an accident.
- Check for injuries: Call for an ambulance if you are not certain about the severity of the injuries.
- Exchange information: Get the phone numbers, email addresses, and insurance policy information of the other drivers and any witnesses.
- Don’t block traffic: If the accident is minor, move your car out of the roadway.
- Take pictures: Use the camera on your cell phone to record the accident scene and damage to the cars.
- Make notes: Immediately record facts about the accident, including specific damages to all vehicles involved, witness information, and comments by the other drivers.
- File a report: If the police do not come to the scene of the accident, file a report with the police department or the department of motor vehicles. Some regions even offer online car accident reporting systems.
- Call your insurance company: Report all accidents to your car insurance carrier regardless of fault. Some insurance plans require you to report accidents immediately or they will increase your rates.
Don’t Do It
There are a few things you should not do if you’re legally responsible for a car accident.
- Don’t yell: Emotions can run high right after an accident. Don’t get mad or accuse the other driver of anything.
- Don’t admit fault: Even if you think you caused the accident, do not say you caused the accident. Likewise, do not apologize for the accident. The other driver may be partially at fault for the collision or the severity of the damages.
- Don’t discuss the accident: You shouldn’t talk about the details of the accident with the other party, their insurance company, or their attorney. Be honest with the police and your insurance company by giving the facts. Consider talking to an attorney.
- Don’t negotiate: The side of the road, right after an accident is not the time or place to be signing statements regarding fault or promising to pay for damage. Let the insurance companies do their job.
- Don’t be first to leave: After the police have made their report, wait until the other drivers have left the scene before you depart.
If You Caused a Car Accident, Get an Attorney's Help
Causing a car accident can have serious consequences. Personal injuries and car repairs can cost a bundle. If you don’t have enough insurance to cover all the damages, the other drivers may attach your savings or other assets to make up the difference. You need to protect your interests. Get help from an experienced auto accident attorney.