Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 10, 2020

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The least you need to know…

  • There are a lot of things to document at the scene of a car accident.
  • In the days and weeks later, documenting your personal injuries is essential.
  • Knowing what information you should get may be crucial to your insurance settlement or filing a bodily injury claim.
  • Use our car accident checklists to record the wreck damage and your personal injuries.

You might not think you need a car accident checklist, but it can be an essential tool. If you are in a car accident, then you can help your claim significantly by knowing how to react and what to do after a car accident.

Not only can a car crash accident checklist make your claim easier, it can also help you keep a level head after a traumatic event and help you to decide if you need to contact an attorney. If you do need to find a car wreck or personal injury attorney, you can begin your search by putting your ZIP code into our search tool.

Checklists When in a Car Accident

What to do in a car accident checklist instructions may be slightly different depending on your role in the auto accident. Regardless of your role in the car accident, the first thing to do is call 911 and make sure to do everything to help anyone injured in the car wreck.

In addition to our checklists, your insurance company may have an app.

What to do After a Car Accident: Checklist and Tips for Drivers

Whether you think you were at fault or not, try not to say anything that might be taken as an admission of fault. Follow our vehicle accident investigation checklist to help you deal with the repercussions of the auto accident in the future.

Remember that no matter how good your information gathering is, your insurance coverage is also important. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 13 percent of drivers were uninsured in 2015. If you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage and the accident with an uninsured driver was not your fault, you may have trouble recovering.

  • Record the date and time of the accident
  • List the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all individuals in your car.
  • Obtain the name, addresses, and phone numbers of any individuals or witnesses that saw what happen or witness the crash.
  • Note the road conditions—icy, dry, wet, snow, etc.
  • Diagram the intersections and street conditions including any road curvatures pavement and slope, obstructions to view, car placement, traffic signals, railroad tracks, zone, etc. 
  • Take photos of the car you hit, especially any previous damage. Take photos of your car and the general area as well.
  • Jot down the officer’s name and badge number and get access to any police report that was generated after the accident.
  • Give a complete description of the scene: What was the lighting? Were the car’s headlights on? Should the headlights have been on? What was traffic like? After the accident, where was the debris? Were there skid marks? Include any relevant information about the scene before, during, and after the accident.
  • Condition of the other car: Make sure the other driver gives a full description of anything not working correctly. Check state inspection records to make sure the car was legal. Get the age, model, make, and VIN of the other car.
  • Record any pain you experienced quickly after the accident so you will be able to remember what hurt. Keep track of any medical treatment, including transportation to medical services.
  • Make sure anyone who worked on the other person’s car, either to transport it after the accident or make the necessary repairs, gives a statement about the condition the car was in.
  • Remember everything the other driver did and said after the accident.

Car Accident Information Checklist for Passengers

If you are a passenger involved in an accident, you may not know what to do if you are in a car accident. Our checklist below is a great starting point.

  • Who was the driver of the car and what is your relationship to the driver?
  • What was the nature of your trip?
  • If other passengers in the car voiced complaints about the driver’s operation of the vehicle.
  • Had the driver or anyone in the car been drinking?
  • Why were you riding with the driver?
  • Was anyone hurt in the vehicle?
  • What is your prior knowledge of the driver’s record or driving history?

Personal Injury Checklist

If you suffer an injury, how to document when getting into a car accident may require a checklist. Our car accident personal injury checklist will be essential if you need to make a personal injury claim.

  • Any and all documents pertaining to medical treatment expenses. Hospital bills, prescription medicine receipts, physical therapy invoices, and any other bill or invoice reflecting the cost of treatment.
  • Out-of-pocket expenses for child care, household assistances, travel to and from medical appointments.
  • Document any missed appointments with clients or business trips
  • Document any missed interviews or missed opportunities for a better job
  • Lost wage and income verification letter from your employer — this should be on company letterhead and included the following:
    • your name
    • address
    • social security number
    • date you started with the employer
    • dates you were unable to work
    • Avg. weekly salary
    • Commission Amt lost
    • Bonus Amt lost
    • Tips and gratuities
    • Overtime Lost
    • If applicable, note loss of any vacation time, sick leave, future earning capacity

      Make sure your lost wage and income verification letter clearly states who signed it, their title, and the date it was signed.

  • Self employment income verification: If you are self-employed and unable to continue your business, then you will probably have to sign an Affidavit of Self Employment. An affidavit is a legal document that holds you to what you swear to. Your Affidavit of Self Employment should:
    • Swear to the fact that you are self-employed,
    • Provide your personal information (name, age, address, office location if you have one)
    • State your average earnings per week at the time of your accident
    • State the date of the accident
    • Note the period that you were unable to work
    • Declare how much income you lost out on because of being hurt in the accident

Your affidavit will require supporting documents such as tax returns, business reports, and any documents verifying missed appointments, lost clients, and lost income. You will need to have the document notarized.

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Bringing it Together

Being in a car accident is no fun. It can be traumatic, painful, and scary. In the heat of the moment, it may be easy to forget what information is important to gather. If you use our checklists above, though, both immediately after the accident and in the days and weeks after, you’ll be in a great position to recover fully for your car accident damages and personal injuries.

If you have any questions about what to do after a car accident, you can consult with a car accident attorney for advice and assistance. To begin your search for a car accident lawyer near you, put your ZIP code into our search tool below.

References:

  1. https://www.iii.org/article/background-on-compulsory-auto-uninsured-motorists