What to Do After a Car Wreck: From a Personal Injury Paralegal

In an instant, your life can change.  You have just been in a car wreck. What happens now? How will you pay the medical bills? You are most likely scared and confused, especially if you were not at fault. In these situations, there are certain things that need to happen in order to maximize your chances of a payout settlement from the at fault insurance.

Have you been in an accident? Don't know what to do next? See what this experienced personal injury paralegal has to say!

*I am not an attorney and the following does not constitute legal advice. Each state has its own set of rules and regulations in regards to Personal Injury claims.Please consult an attorney for further discussion of your personal injury claim. *

The Car Wreck

For purposes of this article we are going to assume that you are not at fault. Someone has hit you and you aren’t sure what to do next. The laws are different in every state, but I am able to give you a broad overview of what to do if you want to make a personal injury claim.

  • Call the Police
    • Even if the other involved party begs you not to, it is best to involve the authorities. If you want to have a claim, you will need an accident report.
  • Go to the Hospital
    • If there is bent metal, go to the hospital. You don’t have to take an ambulance, but you will need to go. In order to have a claim, you must seek treatment within a certain amount of days from the car wreck, typically 14 days. Remember, it can take a day or two for symptoms to even present.
  • Find an Attorney
    • The sooner you seek legal advice the better.
  • Follow up with Your Doctor
    • It is important to follow up with your doctor and to maintain treatments during the life of your case. Chiropractic care is also highly recommended.

Finding the Right Attorney

There are so many advertisements out there for personal injury attorneys. Everywhere you look there is a billboard and every time you turn on the radio you hear another commercial. As a paralegal who has worked in personal injury, I would advise you to do your research. If you want a more personal experience, then go for a highly recommended local firm. Another thing, always be aware that personal injury cases are taken on contingency. This means that you will not pay a retainer or any attorney’s fees. The attorney will be paid from your settlement at the conclusion of your case.


While I can't give you legal advice, I can tell you what I know about Personal Injury ClaimsWhat a Claim Will Cover

So many people don’t even know what their claim can cover. Please keep in mind this varies depending on which state you are in. Each state is different, so consult your attorney regarding the specifics. Insurance companies will typically pay out the maximum coverage amount of their insured for an accident. If the accident was extremely bad and the damages exceed the coverage amount, an attorney can take the case to court and get a larger settlement. The following are things that can be covered by the at fault insurance company.

  • Car Seats
    • This will also be covered by your own insurance company. Any time a car seat is in a car wreck, it needs to be replaced. Even if it was only a fender bender.
  • Medical Bills
  • Vehicle Damage
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Time Lost at Work

During Your Claim

Once you have legal representation and a claim if filed, it will be important for you to maintain contact with your attorney. The biggest thing you need to know, is that these cases take time! I cannot say how many times we had clients who really thought they would get their money in a matter of months and were quite upset when this wasn’t the case. There are rules of procedure that musty be followed, so you must remain patient.

During the life of your claim, it is also important that you continue to receive medical treatment. Nine times out of ten, Chiropractic care will be recommended for individuals who have been involved in an accident. If you are worried about paying the medical bills before your settlement check comes in, don’t be. Your attorney can send a Letter of Protection to all of your medical providers. This basically states that the provider agrees to continue treatment and not put your account into collections as they will be paid out of the settlement check at the conclusion of the case.

What You Need To Know About Personal Injury

Here is everything you need to know about your personal injury claim.


After The Claim

After the duration of your case, you will agree that you can never sue again in regards to this incident. It is possible that you will have permanent damage from your accident, and that is something that it is important to factor into the claim itself.  It is the hope that the settlement will be enough to cover your present and future medical bills as well as compensate for pain and suffering you may have experienced. These claims are timely, some taking many years to reach settlement, so it is important to remain patient and maintain a good relationship with your attorney.

Accident Checklist

The Car Wreck Checklist


  1. Janel Berchielli (@JanelB) says:

    The sad part is the attorney takes such a chunk of the settlement. I completely agree with the tips, especially going to a doctor very soon after. So many times people just go home and then days later feel the pain. And the carseats so many people forget this detail but it is so important because you never know if the minor vendor bender might have damaged the seat without you physically noticing anything.

  2. mamabops says:

    Former lawyer here! Thanks for sharing this information. A lot of people don’t know the ins-and-outs of personal injury cases. The tip about car seats is especially important!

    • Jessi says:

      It makes me pretty happy to see an attorney say that 🙂 I worked PI with an attorney for quite a while and some people really thought the case,would be so short and then they got mad

  3. Terri Steffes says:

    I have been in a lot of car wrecks, none of which were my fault. This is a good list. Always call the police. Always. Once a felon hit me and tried to threaten me. When I called the police, they came and arrested him.

  4. Mihaela Echols says:

    These are great tips!!! Every car wreck not matter how big or small its smart to call the police. I’ve had people start off nice and then after the police report they tried not to take credit.But because of the police report they were proven wrong.

  5. AlainaBullock1 says:

    Great advice! It surprises me how many people are not sure what to do after an accident, short of calling the police and taking down the other driver’s information. It’s a lot more detailed than people think!

  6. lisa says:

    Man, I wish I had this advice 12 years ago! I’ve only been in one wreck and thankfully there were no injuries, other than to the vehicles.

  7. Shann Eva's Blog says:

    So much great information. I was in one small accident a few years ago, and I remember having no idea what to do. Having this information handy, or at least in the back of your mind, would be so helpful. Thank you!

  8. Elizabeth O. says:

    This is very good advice. Most people are in shock and would panic so they won’t be able to think straight yet. It’s good to have the low down so you know what to do immediately after your initial shock.

  9. Tiffany | shortsweetmom says:

    This is a wonderful article. I wrote a similar post about what to do if you are in a car accident with your child in the car. This is the kind of information you hope you never need but will be so happy to know should the need arise. Thank you for providing quality content.

  10. lovelysilvia says:

    This is all great information for pretty much everyone! I had no idea about some of these things and if I ever get in an accident I feel confident about what to do.

  11. Tereza says:

    This is so useful – you never know when you gonna need this information (touch wood never!), even if it’s to help someone who gets to that situations. I’m dreading car accidents so much – people are sometimes so careless when driving! x

  12. Heather says:

    When it comes to any sort of accident/insurance thing it is totally overwhelming for me! It seems like there are so many boxes to check off, having someone that understands the ins and outs and can provide the right assistance is definitely key!

  13. Brandi Kennedy says:

    This is a great article for people who have had something like this happen, especially if it was their first time. My first wreck wasn’t my fault, and I had NO CLUE how to deal with things. I just had to muddle through – it would have been great to have something like this back then!

  14. Spunky Moms says:

    If there is bent metal, go to the hospital—SUCH a good rule of thumb! It’s one of those things you hope you’ll never need to know, but great info to have on hand. I’m sure at the time you think it’ll be ok, but best to check out.

  15. milesandellie says:

    I was in a pretty decent sized car accident a few years ago. My vehicle was a complete write off and I was left with (my third) major concussion and whiplash. It was hard enough to try and do anything let alone research every thing I needed to regarding the crash. What a great post.

  16. Robin Rue says:

    This is all such great advice! A wreck can be a scary thing and you can be so wrapped up in the moment you forget some things.

  17. cvnxena says:

    This is awesome advice, it can be such an uncertain and scary time, it is great to have some useful and actionable advice if this ever happens! Thank you

  18. workoutwithdi says:

    Unfortunately I know from experience what to do in a car crash. Not one either! I’ve had three in UK, and one in USA. None my fault. It takes an emotional toll, even if you are physically ok. Dealing with all the stress and paperwork is NOT fun!

  19. Cara (@StylishGeek) says:

    Your post is fantastic! It is chalkfull of very useful information! I will definitely bookmark this because this is info I will need when the situation needs it (hopefully not, but we never know). Thanks for sharing!

  20. Lydia says:

    This is such a helpful post! I’ve never been in a car accident (I hope I won’t ever be in one) but just in case, so great to know this

  21. The Cool Mom says:

    This is such good information, especially to those who have never been in an accident before. Being caught off guard can make you miss important steps to your claim. Great infographic too!

  22. The Everyday Mom Life says:

    These are good tips. I see a lot of people being confused about the car seat after a car crash so this is good to know.

  23. Yona Williams says:

    I had no idea that you must seek treatment within a certain amount of days from the car wreck, but it does make sense. I did not know that car seats must be replaced whenever a wreck takes place.

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