What to Do After a Car Accident [Infographic]

Car accidents are a tragically common experience in Colorado and across the country. The likelihood is that most motorists will be involved in a crash at some point during their lives.

Nothing can truly prepare you for the chaos that follows an accident. However, there are some steps you can take in advance to best prepare you in the unfortunate event you are involved in a crash. These include:

  1. Make sure you have important documents in your car where you can easily locate them. This includes your vehicle’s registration and a current insurance card. Also make sure you carry your driver’s license whenever you are behind the wheel.
  2. Carry a cellphone with you, and make sure it is charged. Not only will having a cellphone allow you to call for help, most phones also include a camera feature that you can use to take photos to document the crash.
  3. Make sure you have a flashlight in your vehicle. This could come in handy if you are involved in an accident at night.
  4. Consider carrying flares or cones to warn oncoming traffic about the crash.
  5. Have an emergency contact list of people to call in case you are hurt in a crash. You can keep a digital list stored on your phone or write a list on paper that you keep in your glove box, in your wallet or somewhere else where it won’t get lost.
  6. Request a free Auto Accident Kit and Information Guide from The Sawaya Law Firm. Our firm will send you a free kit that you can keep in your vehicle. It includes a disposable 24-exposure color camera with flash, a post-accident instruction card, a flashlight and battery, a pen and a 15-by-18 personal belongings bag with handle.

All of these items will be useful if you are in a car accident in Denver or elsewhere in Colorado. There are certain steps you should take in the immediate aftermath of a crash. Here are some suggestions for what to do after a car accident:

Call 911 for emergency help. Be sure to give the 911 dispatcher your location and let them know how many people were involved in the accident.

faceRemain calm and be polite. A car accident is a sudden and traumatic event. It is understandable that you may feel shocked, frightened and even angry. Take a moment to calm down before interacting with other drivers, the police and anyone else on the scene. It is best to proceed in a businesslike manner and avoid making accusations or starting an argument. Defuse the situation if someone else tries to provoke you.

finger pointingDon’t apologize and don’t admit fault. Many people have a natural impulse to say “I’m sorry” when something bad happens. Though you may simply mean that you’re sorry that the accident occurred, your words may be interpreted as an admission of fault. Even if you think you did do something wrong to cause the crash, don’t say so. All of the facts are not clear in the confusion of an accident scene.

damaged carGet to a safe place. If you feel that you are in danger of being hit by oncoming traffic, move to a safer location if possible. Many people are injured in secondary crashes that happen when inattentive drivers crash into the vehicles involved in the first accident.

medical emergencyCheck for injuries and call for emergency medical help. Assess yourself and others in your vehicle for injuries. If you are able, check with the occupants of the other vehicles to see if they are injured. Do not attempt to move someone who has been seriously injured unless they are facing an imminent threat, such as fire or drowning. Cooperate with the first responders and other emergency medical personnel when they arrive. Accept the recommended treatment and transportation to a medical facility by ambulance if necessary. Now is not the time to act tough or keep a stiff upper lip.

picturesTake pictures. If you are able to do so, it may be very helpful for your case if you can document the accident scene in the moments immediately following the incident. If you are unable to do so yourself, ask a friend or a bystander to help you. Using a cellphone or other camera, get photos of the accident scene from all angles and perspectives. Take pictures of the cars and where they collided with each other or other objects. Be sure to photograph the damage to the vehicles. Get photos of any visible injuries. While your memory is still fresh, jot down your recollections about how the accident happened – but don’t share this information with others on the scene.

documentsGather your papers. If you are able, now is a good time to locate your vehicle’s registration, your insurance card and your driver’s license. When a police officer responds to your accident, he or she will likely record this information and share it with all parties involved in the accident. If the other driver asks to exchange information, politely suggest that you wait for the police to record the relevant information and provide it to each of you.

police iconCooperate with law enforcement. You should answer questions from the police honestly and politely, but answer only what is asked. Do not speculate about the cause of the crash, volunteer additional information or share your opinions. Do not admit fault and do not accuse the other drivers of anything. Ask how to get a copy of the accident report, and get one as soon as you can.

car with shield iconNotify your insurance company. You should report the accident to your own insurer as soon as possible after the crash, but you need to provide only the basic details of the crash (when it happened, where it happened, who was involved, etc.) Do not offer to make a recorded or written statement about the crash without the advice of a qualified Denver car accident lawyer. Don’t say anything that downplays the extent of your injuries or losses. Don’t agree to a settlement offer made at this point without first consulting a lawyer. Some insurance companies may attempt to make a claim go away quickly and cheaply with an immediate offer. In virtually all cases, this sum is far less than what the victim truly deserves. If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, refer them to your insurance carrier or lawyer.

stethoscope iconSeek medical attention and follow up. Even if you did not initially think you were hurt and you did not receive medical attention at the scene, you should still get a full medical examination as soon as possible after the accident. Some serious – even life-threatening – injuries are not immediately apparent, and the stress of an accident can mask the pain at first. Be sure to tell the doctor that you were involved in a motor vehicle accident and describe what happened to your body in the crash. When you are prescribed a course of treatment, be sure to follow through on all doctor’s orders. Take the medicine as prescribed and participate in rehabilitation or other procedures the doctor prescribes. Be sure to go to all medical appointments for follow-up care.

scales iconGet help from a lawyer without delay. Colorado has complex insurance laws, but insurance company adjusters and the insurer’s lawyers know them well. They deal with them every day, but this may be the first time you have faced the aftermath of a serious car accident. You need someone on your side that also has a thorough understanding of car accident laws and is ready to fight for your right to full compensation for your injuries and other losses. The personal injury attorneys at The Sawaya Law Firm have the experience and dedication to help you. Contact them as soon as possible after the crash for a free claim review and advice about your legal options and rights.

Help for Victims of Car Accidents in Colorado

At the moment of impact in a car crash, it can seem as though your whole world has stopped. In that next moment, a million different questions can go through your head, including:

  • How serious are my injuries?
  • Is my car beyond repair?
  • What happened to the other people involved in the collision?
  • Will I be able to return to work—and when?
  • How will I support my family while I recover?
  • How will I pay for my medical bills?
  • What are my legal rights and options?

These are all important and intelligent questions. When you need answers, contact the experienced team at The Sawaya Law Firm. At our office in Denver, we stand ready to assist you with all your legal needs so you can get your life back on track after being in a car accident.

At The Sawaya Law Firm, we document every aspect of your injury and carefully investigate each detail of your case because we know that this can make a difference in the amount of compensation we recover for you. We strive to keep you fully informed of our progress every step of the way.

Our Denver personal injury law firm will communicate with insurance companies and other parties responsible for compensating you for your injuries or for the wrongful death of a family member.

We will also relentlessly pursue the truth surrounding the details of your accident. At our firm, truth is one of the 12 values that define our approach to practicing law. We see truth as the actual state of a matter: “What is not true disintegrates.”

Our goal is to uncover the truth and use this information to collect maximum compensation on your claim by aggressively negotiating for a fair settlement or pursuing a favorable verdict at trial.

Denver Injury Attorneys Committed to Uncovering the Truth

Call us day or night, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Someone is always available to answer your call and speak with you about your car accident case. You can also contact us online about your case, and someone from our firm will be in touch to schedule a complimentary consultation so you can meet with a Denver car crash attorney who can answer your questions.


Michael established The Sawaya Law Firm in 1977 and built it into one of the largest personal injury law firms in Colorado, with more than 20 lawyers and 80 staff members serving clients from five offices located in Denver, Greeley and Colorado Springs. Throughout its history, the firm has stayed true to its 12 Core Values, which emphasize excellence in advocacy and a commitment to providing outstanding client service. Michael studied sociology and economics as an undergraduate student at The Colorado College, and he earned his law degree from the Texas Tech University School of Law. In addition to being involved in several legal and community organizations, Michael enjoys playing music and cooking, and he has written a book on spiritual matters.