What to do After a Car Accident

This guide will walk you through the steps to take if you have been involved in a car accident. If you would like to consult with an attorney, contact us at (312) 566-8456 for a no-cost no-obligation consultation.

Be Prepared

Though most of us experience few accidents in our lifetime, being prepared can help lessen the stress and make the process smoother and safer.

  • Carry warning triangles/flares in your car to notify approaching vehicles of the accident;
  • Always carry your driver’s license, a copy of your vehicle registration and auto insurance card – auto insurance is mandatory in Illinois;
  • Carry a pen and small notebook in your car so you can jot down notes;
  • Carry a First Aid kit to tend to minor injuries; and
  • Carry your health insurance card in case you need to be treated at a hospital.

Think Safety First

When a auto accident occurs, the most important considerations are helping those that are injured, preventing further injury and additional accidents.

After an accident occurs, first assess yourself and those in your vehicle for physical injury. If someone is injured, call 9-1-1. After that, assess your surroundings to determine the safest course of action. What you do next largely depends on the location and severity of the accident.

If the cars involved in the accident are still mobile they should be moved out of traffic to prevent further accidents.

If the cars are immobile, flashers and warning triangles/flares should be used.

When considering exiting your vehicle, observe traffic density and speed before doing so. Many times, especially on major highways in urban areas, secondary accidents occur and people are much better protected by remaining in their vehicles and waiting for the police to arrive.

Call the Police

Illinois law requires that almost all car accidents be reported to the police. Unless there was no injury and less than $1,500.00 in damage, the police must be contacted.

Contacting the police protects you from criminal liability for failure to report an accident and documents important information. Having the police come and take a report also assists in complying with obligations you may have under your insurance contract.

Gather Information

After an accident, it is important to gather information for your insurance company and also for your lawyer.

When gathering information, be polite and do not make accusations or escalate the situation.

  • If you have a camera, take photos of the cars and scene (remember to keep safety in mind);
  • Take photos of your injuries, if any;
  • Take down the following information of all people involved:
    • Name
    • Address
    • Phone number
    • Drivers’ license number
    • Insurance company name and policy number
    • Make and model of car
    • VIN number (you can see this on the dash looking though the windshield)
    • License plate number
  • Get a copy of the accident report if possible;
    • If the report isn’t available get the following information:
      • Officer’s name
      • Badge number
      • Reporting agency (i.e. city police, sheriff, state police)
      • Report number
  • Get the name address and phone number of any witnesses

Do Not Make Admissions

In the heat of the moment, people involved in accidents often say they are sorry or attempt to assess blame. It is important not to admit fault after an accident because those admissions can be used against you in court.

Other than gathering information, you should only talk to the officer at the scene (and your own insurer if necessary). When speaking to the officer, only relate facts, not assessments of fault.

Often after the accident you will be contacted by the other party’s insurance carrier. It is extremely important that you do not make statements to the insurer, the other driver’s insurance company is not on your side, no matter how nice they seem, and is trying to get you to make harmful admissions or settle your claim for the least money possible. If the other party’s insurer calls you, tell them you do you wish to speak at this time and get their name and phone number.

Contact Your Insurer

If you have not already spoken to your insurer, you should contact them as soon as possible to report the accident. Most insurance policies require a timely notice of claims and cooperation from the insured.

Contact a Lawyer

While most accidents only involving only property damage do not require a personal injury attorney, it never hurts to contact one for an evaluation. If you or your family member was injured in the accident, a personal injury attorney can protect your interests and also recover fair compensation for your injury.