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11 Things to Do After a Car Accident

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5. Document the scene

Record as much detail about the accident as possible using your smartphone’s camera, video and voice memo features, Luna advises.

“Check the impact to the car: Was it on the front side, driver’s side, rear? It’s easiest to do that by taking a photo of the entire car and close-up photos of the damages for both your car and the other party.”

Record the date and time of the accident, and photograph or video the entire scene of the accident, including skid marks or property damage. Note street names and the direction each vehicle was heading both before and after the accident.

“One thing that often gets missed is the position of the cars [relative] to the street. This is critical information, because it helps the adjuster re-create the accident when you report the claim,” Luna says.

Sketch a diagram of the crash scene. Using the voice memo app on your phone, dictate what happened while the details are still fresh in your mind. Include information about the weather and visibility.

6. Avoid roadside discussions about responsibility

A few years ago, Denise Schipani, 54, and her son were stopped at a traffic light near her home in Huntington Station, New York, when a car slammed into theirs from behind.

“We were jerked forward and I braked hard, stopping just as I touched the bumper of the car in front of me,” she says. “In that moment, I had no idea what happened, and I remember being confused that there were little pieces of black stuff all over the back seat. Turns out the back window had shattered. We were shaking, but no one was hurt.”

Schipani put on her hazard lights, double-checked that her son was OK and called 911.

“Then I approached the other driver. He tried to blame wet leaves on the road, but there were none,” she says. “Clearly, it was a case of him accelerating while distracted.”

Schipani correctly chose not to argue. Emotions can run high after a car accident, so if you believe the other driver is impaired or aggressive, trust your instincts, Luna advises.

“Stay in your car and don’t interact with the person, because a police intervention might be necessary,” he says.

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