I Just Had a Car Accident, Now What?

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The moments immediately after a car accident can be confusing. It can be hard to know what to do first. If you just had a car accident, here’s a checklist to protect yourself and your interests later on.

1.      Get Your Car Out of Traffic

The #1 priority in the moments after a car accident is safety. What that means depends on the severity of the accident, where it happened, and how badly you had been injured. Generally, if possible, you should move your vehicle out of traffic – to the shoulder or a nearby parking lot.

2.      Get Yourself to Safety

Staying in your car is often not the best idea after a car crash. Particularly if your vehicle is immobilized in traffic, you could be at risk of a secondary collision, or injury. Also, in Michigan winters, the cold can often make it dangerous to stay in your car over time. If you can do so safely, and without injury, it may be best to get out of the vehicle and move to someplace nearby that is warm and well-lit.

3.      Call 9-1-1 for Help

Once you are safe, or if you are not able to move to safety, it is time to pull out your cell phone and call 9-1-1. In Michigan, you have a legal duty to report any accident that causes personal injury or at least $500 in property damage. Even if you and any other motorists are uninjured you should still call the police and report the accident. Police can help you control traffic, so you can move to safety. EMS can help address any injuries. The more serious the accident, the more important it is to call 9-1-1 as soon as possible.

4.      Get Contact and Insurance Information

After safety, your next priority should be documenting what happened. That starts with the contact and insurance information of each motorist involved. If you have a cell phone, take a picture of their drivers licenses and proof of insurance. You can also photograph the license plate of the car. Once the police arrive, they will ask for that information, too. Getting as much as you can ahead of time will help ensure that you aren’t the victim of a hit and run.

5.      Get Pictures of Your Injuries, Your Car, and the Location

Documentation doesn’t end with insurance policies. You can help your car accident attorney prove the case by pulling out your phone and taking pictures on the scene. Assuming you, or someone in your car, were not seriously injured, take pictures of any visible injuries, every angle of the vehicles, and the location of the accident. Make certain to take pictures that show the lighting, signs, and anything that contributed to the accident like potholes or overgrown landscaping.

6.      Get a Medical Exam

Whether you ride the ambulance to the emergency room, or schedule a medical exam with your primary physician, you should always get a medical exam after any accident. Some conditions, particularly traumatic brain injuries or spinal damage, take time to manifest. Even if you appear fine on the day of the crash, you should still get checked out soon so you can include any injury on your auto insurance claim.

7.      Get an Auto Accident Attorney

The days after a car accident can be a flurry of forms, examinations, and phone calls. Especially when serious injuries lead to extended hospital stays, you need someone to handle the communications and meet your auto insurance claim filing deadlines. Even if the potential for a personal injury lawsuit seems too far off, bringing an auto accident attorney in early can take the pressure off you and your family.

At Macomb Law Group, our auto accident injury attorneys know how overwhelming a car accident can be. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact Macomb Law Group and get our team working for you.



  • James Spagnuolo

    I began working in personal injury law more than 20 years ago, starting as a law clerk during my first year of law school at Wayne State University School of Law in Detroit. After passing the bar exam in 2002, I went on to become a partner at a series of law firms before opening the Macomb Law Group in 2017.

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