man frustrated after a car accident

I’ve been in one serious accident in my lifetime that was pretty significant. It was when I was a teenager and my mom and I were coming home from church. She was driving our car and was going through a lot of personal stress at the time so she wasn’t paying the best attention. I recall watching her get into the left turn lane and slow down as traffic was coming from the other direction in both lanes. Then suddenly she began her turn directly in front of those oncoming cars. I saw what was happening and yelled to her, but it was too late by the time she attempted to correct out of the path of the car which then hit us. At the time, in the late 70’s, seat belts were still optional for occupants to use in cars and I did not have one on at the time of impact.

The next thing I recall is how everything seemed to go into slow motion as the impact occurred and stopped our car’s forward momentum while I, not attached to the car, continued forward until my head stopped me as it partially went through the front windshield and my palms locked onto the dashboard to stop my momentum. I recall watching the other car seemingly drive past me as our car spun around it in the direction of its travel. And then it was over.

The next thing I recall is sitting in the passenger seat thinking that I must have gotten incredibly lucky as I wasn’t feeling any pain anywhere. Then the blood started dripping off of my head where the windshield had embedded shards of glass into my forehead. My mom was worse and was crying with pain from a broken wrist and anguish at the thought she had hurt me as well.

Then it was a flurry of activity with paramedics and firemen and police all arriving to aid everyone involved. It seemed like everyone was asking me questions, many of them the same questions, and activity was going on all around. It was overwhelming and confusing at points, especially right after it all occurred.

I know this is a long winded story, but there is method to my madness, I promise. I tell this story to illustrate that I understand how stressful it can be to experience a car accident. There is so much going on at the time it happens that you can easily get overwhelmed and just hope that the people helping you are going to get all of the information necessary and everything will work out. Unfortunately, too often not enough information is gathered while the scene is still new and insurance companies love having confusion or alternate explanations to try and defeat legitimate claims. Because there are things we all can do to protect ourselves, I wanted to come up with an easy list of four things I wish every person would do after they have been in a car accident that can make things much easier for them later on:


Call 911 and report the accident. If it is a cold reporting day, then immediately move to 2, below and be sure to make your cold report as soon as possible so that it is documented. If the other driver does not want to call police and just wants to exchange information, you should remember that you do not know this person and do not know if they will be honest with their insurance company or law enforcement at a later point in time. I have had multiple cases where the parties agreed not to call police only to have the other driver turn around and blame the innocent party for causing the accident. It’s not worth the hassle or stress, but beyond that, you have a legal obligation to report a collision. Also in the event you have the other party make this request, move to 2, below.


Take pictures! Don’t just take one picture and call it a day. Walk around the accident scene and shoot multiple pictures from multiple different angles. If you are in a place where you need to move the cars quickly to get out of traffic (such as on the highway) get out and take as many pictures as you can before moving your car and before anyone else moves theirs. If there are multiple cars involved, make sure to get all of them in multiple photos before anyone moves. This simple act can eliminate many questions if there is a question of who is responsible for the collision at a later point in time.


Get names and contact information for any witnesses. Whether you send yourself a text with the information, write it on a post card, the back of an envelope, it doesn’t matter. Anyone who saw what happened, or who came onto the scene shortly afterward, should have their contact information requested. Get name, address if possible, but if the individual is uncomfortable providing that, just get their cell phone number and email address.


Exchange contact (name, address and telephone number) and insurance information with the other driver. If you can, take a picture of the front and back of their insurance card and the front of their driver’s license.