What to Do in a Car Accident: Common Injuries and Tips for Recovery

Car accidents are an unfortunate reality of modern life, and the aftermath can be overwhelming. But, with the right knowledge and guidance on what to do in a car accident, you can navigate the complex process of recovery and protect your rights. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the crucial steps to take after a car accident, the importance of seeking medical attention, and the benefits of working with an experienced car accident attorney. So, buckle up and let’s dive into the world of car accident recovery!

Key Takeaways

  • Prioritize safety, assess any injuries and collect evidence following a car accident.

  • Seek medical attention for timely treatment and to provide evidence in insurance claims or legal proceedings.

  • Call The Shelton Firm and discuss your rights and options early in the process to ensure you are protected

  • Understand your rights and compensation options, such as economic damages, non-economic damages & full tort vs limited tort coverage in Pennsylvania.

Immediate Steps to Take After a Car Accident

A car accident scene with two cars and a person assessing the damage

When a car accident occurs, the first few moments are crucial for car accident victims. Your priority should be ensuring your safety and the safety of others involved. Assess your injuries, move to a safe location if possible, and call emergency services.

While adrenaline is still high, gather pertinent evidence at the scene. This includes getting information and insurance info from the other party involved, photographing vehicle damage, collecting witness details, and requesting a police report. These immediate steps not only protect you but also lay a robust foundation for future insurance claims or legal proceedings.

Assess Injuries

Immediately after car accidents, check yourself and others for car accident injury and car crash injuries. Some common car accident injuries, which can also occur in car crashes, include:

  • Whiplash

  • Fractures

  • Sprains

  • Soft tissue injuries

Be especially vigilant for signs of abdominal bruising or chest injuries, as these could indicate more severe internal issues.

If serious injuries have occurred to you or anyone else in the accident, seeking medical attention should be top priority. Keep in mind, prioritizing health over everything else is a prudent strategy.

Move to Safety

If it’s safe to do so, follow these steps:

  1. Move your vehicle to the side of the road or another secure location to prevent further accidents or injuries.

  2. Activate your hazard lights.

  3. If necessary, place cones or flares behind your vehicle to alert other drivers.

  4. If you’re on a freeway or interstate highway, relocating to a safe place can help prevent additional injuries like soft tissue sprains and strains.

Keep in mind that staying safe should be your top priority during this time.

Call Emergency Services

As soon as you’ve addressed immediate safety concerns, call emergency services by dialing 911. Provide the dispatcher with crucial information like the location of the accident, the number of vehicles involved, and any injuries. Summoning emergency services is essential for several reasons: it facilitates prompt medical attention, early intervention, avoidance of additional damage, priority treatment, and documentation.

Contacting emergency services is a crucial step for the protection of yourself and others involved in the accident.

Gathering Evidence at the Scene

A person taking pictures of the car accident scene

While you’re at the accident scene, it’s crucial to gather as much evidence as possible. This will not only help your insurance claim but also provide valuable information if you need to file a lawsuit. There are three key areas to focus on when gathering evidence: documenting vehicle damage, collecting witness information, and requesting a police report.

A thorough documentation of the accident scene builds a robust foundation for your case, maximizing your chances of obtaining equitable compensation.

Documenting Vehicle Damage

Take photos of all vehicles involved in the accident, capturing damage and license plates from various angles. It’s essential to document the damage as accurately as possible for your insurance claim and potential legal proceedings. In low light or poor weather conditions, do your best to capture the dents, scrapes, and other visible damage.

A detailed documentation of vehicle damage creates a visual record, serving as compelling evidence in your case.

Collecting Witness Information

Witnesses can play a crucial role in supporting your claim, as they can provide impartial accounts of the accident and help determine fault. Here’s how to approach witnesses:

  1. Approach witnesses calmly and politely, explaining the reason for your conversation.

  2. Ask if they’re willing to answer questions or provide a statement.

  3. Exchange contact information for future reference.

Bear in mind, witness information can prove invaluable for insurance claims and legal proceedings, so aim to collect as much as you can.

Requesting a Police Report

When the police arrive at the scene, request a copy of the police report for your records. This official document will include the officer’s assessment of the accident, including any determination of fault, and can serve as crucial evidence in your case.

You can request a copy of the police report in Pennsylvania either online or by downloading and mailing an application to the Pennsylvania State Police Crash Reports Unit. Submission instructions are available on the website. Keep in mind that the processing time for a car accident police report in Pennsylvania is approximately 15 days.

Seeking Medical Attention for Injuries

A person in an emergency room being treated for car accident injuries

No matter how minor your injuries may seem, seeking medical attention after a car accident is crucial. It is Critical to provide valuable documentation for your insurance claim or lawsuit.

There are several avenues for seeking medical attention, including emergency room visits, urgent care clinics, and follow-up appointments with primary care physicians. Let’s explore each of these options in more detail.

Emergency Room Visits

If you’ve sustained severe injuries in a car accident, such as head and brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, back and neck injuries, or broken bones, it’s critical to seek immediate medical attention at the nearest emergency room. Emergency room staff will conduct diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans, to diagnose injuries like organ trauma, internal bleeding, and brain trauma. A visit to the emergency room prioritizes your health and ensures optimal recovery outcomes.

Urgent Care Clinics

For less severe injuries, such as soft tissue injuries sprains, strains, or minor fractures, consider visiting an urgent care clinic for prompt treatment. Urgent care clinics are typically open daily and can provide cost-effective care compared to emergency room visits.

Seeking treatment at an urgent care clinic means addressing injuries promptly and efficiently, which also aids in controlling medical expenses.

Follow-up with Primary Care Physician

After your initial medical treatment, it’s important to schedule a follow-up appointment with your primary care doctor to:

  • Monitor your recovery

  • Document any ongoing issues

  • Help detect any hidden or delayed injuries that may not be immediately apparent

  • Provide a detailed account of your injuries and treatment

Attending these follow-up appointments guarantees receipt of the most suitable care and support throughout the recovery process.

Call The Shelton Firm To Begin Working with a Car Accident Attorney

A person talking to a car accident attorney

Hiring a Harrisburg car accident lawyer can provide numerous benefits, from helping you understand your legal rights to ensuring you receive fair compensation for your injuries. The Shelton Firm, a Harrisburg car accident law firm, offers free consultations and works on a contingency fee basis, meaning you only pay legal fees if you recover damages.

Working with a car accident attorney equips you with a knowledgeable and experienced advocate, enabling smoother navigation through the legal process.

Free Consultations

During a free consultation with a car accident attorney, you’ll have an opportunity to:

  • Discuss the details of your accident and injuries

  • Allow the attorney to assess your case and provide an initial evaluation

  • Ask questions

  • Bring any evidence or relevant documents you have

This consultation offers an excellent opportunity to gather information and get professional advice.

Consulting an experienced lawyer offers insight into your legal rights and options, while guaranteeing expert handling of your case.

No Fees Unless We Win – Contingency Fee Basis

Car accident attorneys usually handle personal injury cases on a contingency basis. That means, they take a percentage of the settlement or award without asking for any payment in advance. This ensures that you have access to legal representation without the burden of upfront costs. On average, personal injury lawyers generally take 33 to 45 percent of the case recovery in a contingency fee agreement.

Working with a lawyer on a contingency fee basis allows you to concentrate on recovery, devoid of concerns about legal expenses.

Handling the Insurance Company

Insurance companies are not on your side and often try to minimize the compensation they pay out. By allowing a car accident attorney to handle all communication with the insurance company, you’re protecting your interests and ensuring you receive fair compensation for your injuries.

Your attorney will gather information, offer legal advice, and negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf, allowing you to focus on your recovery.

Handling the evidence recovery and preservation

A person talking to an insurance company representative

Your attorney will play a crucial role in gathering and preserving evidence to support your claim. This can include:

  • Obtaining contact and driver information from the other party

  • Requesting a police report

  • Engaging an independent investigator to collect evidence at the scene of the accident

By working with an attorney who handles evidence recovery and preservation, you’re ensuring that your case is built on a strong foundation of solid evidence.

Reporting the Accident to Your Insurance Company

Car Accident Lawyer handling your insurance company paperwork

It’s essential to report the accident to your insurance company promptly and accurately to avoid missing deadlines and ensure you receive the full compensation you’re entitled to. However, be cautious about the information you share with insurance companies, and consider seeking legal assistance to protect your claim and ensure you receive fair compensation.

Let’s explore the best practices for reporting your accident and interacting with insurance companies.

Timely Reporting

Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible to avoid missing deadlines and jeopardizing your claim. Provide essential information, such as the insured driver’s name, insurance policy number, date, and time of the accident. If applicable, contact the police and stay on the scene until they arrive to compile a police report.

Obtain a copy of the police report and verify its accuracy to ensure you have reliable documentation to support your claim.

Sharing Limited Information

When communicating with your insurance company, it’s crucial to be cautious about the information you provide. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Answer questions honestly, but refrain from offering unsolicited details or opinions.

  • Keep your responses concise and straightforward.

  • Avoid discussing your injuries or providing information that may minimize or exaggerate them.

Remember that car insurance companies are looking to protect their interests, so be vigilant in protecting your own.

Understanding Your Rights and Compensation Options

A picture of a car accident scene with a person taking notes, illustrating what to do in a car accident

As a car accident victim, it’s essential to understand your rights and the types of compensation you may be entitled to. In this section, we’ll discuss economic and non-economic damages, as well as the impact of full tort vs limited tort coverage on your ability to recover compensation.

A thorough understanding of your rights and compensation options equips you better for navigating the legal process and obtaining just compensation.

Economic Damages

Economic damages refer to compensation for financial losses, such as:

  • Medical bills

  • Lost wages

  • Car repairs

  • Property damage

  • Out-of-pocket expenses

These damages are quantifiable and can be substantiated by receipts and documentation. When calculating economic damages in car accident cases, factors such as medical expenses, lost income and earning capacity, car repairs, property damage, and out-of-pocket expenses are typically taken into account.

Understanding the various components of economic damages enables you to advocate more effectively for your entitled compensation.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages compensate for non-financial losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. Unlike economic damages, these losses do not have a pre-established monetary value, and the amount of non-economic damages awarded can vary depending on the severity of the injuries and their impact on the individual’s life.

Comprehending the complexities of non-economic damages aids in pursuing equitable compensation for your physical and emotional distress.

The Affect of Full Tort vs Limited Tort

Your choice of insurance coverage can impact your ability to recover compensation for non-economic damages. In Pennsylvania, full tort coverage allows you to file a lawsuit for all damages sustained, while limited tort coverage is generally more affordable but waives the right to sue for pain and suffering. If you suffer an injury, it will be considered as ‘serious injury’. This is only exception to the normal rule..

Understanding the implications of full tort vs limited tort coverage is crucial in determining your options for recovering compensation.

Check out this article about Full Tort vs Limited Tort for more info.


Navigating the aftermath of a car accident can be a complex and overwhelming experience. However, by understanding the essential steps to take after an accident, the importance of seeking medical attention, and the benefits of working with a car accident attorney, you can protect your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve. Remember, knowledge is power, and being well-informed about your rights and compensation options will serve you well on your journey to recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the first thing you should do in a car accident?

In the case of a car accident, stop your vehicle immediately and check if anyone has been injured. If so, call 911 right away for medical help.

How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, you have two years from the date of the car accident to file a lawsuit. This is known as the Statute of Limitations. If you fail to file a lawsuit within this time frame, you may lose your right to seek compensation through the courts.

What additional steps should you take following a collision?

Following a collision, you should take a moment to check yourself and any passengers for injuries, ensure safety for everyone present, call 911, exchange information with other drivers, document the scene and start the claims process.

Can I Recover Damages If I’m Being Blamed for a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?

Yes, you can potentially recover damages even if you’re being blamed for a car accident in Pennsylvania. This is due to Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law, which allows for the possibility of recovery even if you are partially at fault. However, the amount you can recover will be reduced by the percentage of your fault. It’s advisable to consult with a car accident attorney to understand your rights and potential for compensation in such cases.

Click here to read about Pennsylvania’s Comparative negligence law

What are some common car accident injuries?

Common car accident injuries include whiplash, fractures, sprains, soft tissue injuries and internal injuries.