The moments immediately following a motor vehicle accident typically unfold in a blur of rat-a-tat, split-second events that turn time fluid before everything hits a hard stop. 

And everything is punctuated by the cries of screeching tires and smashing of glass. 

Once everything comes to a stop, your first thought will likely be, “Am I injured?” Then, “What about my passengers?” Then, “Is the other driver injured?” and “What about their passengers?” Once you determine the extent of any injuries and help the victims, it’s time for the self-imposed inquiry underscoring it all. Call it the reckoning of the road: “What damage did my vehicle incur?” and “Was it totaled?”

Being involved in a motor vehicle accident is one of the worst experiences anyone can endure. Waking up the next morning and having those few seconds before remembering you had an accident the day before is surely one of the second-worst experiences someone can have. 

But failing to fully embrace the gravity of what happened, whether a fender-bender or head-on collision that totals your vehicle, and failing to properly manage this situation, can make a bad situation worse. 

Before even getting into your car, you should write down or enter into your mobile phone contacts the phone number for the law firm Phillips & Millman: 845-947-1100. That way, if you are involved in a crash, the phone number for a law office with experienced attorneys, who can help you manage the fallout, is close at hand. That will be one less thing to worry about at a moment when you’ll have no shortage of things to worry about. 

And with that in mind, AAA recommends the following, for those moments immediately after a collision.

“Staying Calm and on task after an auto collision can save lives and get you back on the road quickly...

“An auto collision can be an emotional and exhausting experience. Many motorists drive defensively, take driver education courses and prepare for stressful driving situations, but unfortunately vehicle collisions still occur. A driver is responsible for knowing what to do if they are involved in a collision. Even the most prepared and competent drivers sometimes find themselves involved in a crash. It does not matter who is at fault, the most important thing to do first is make sure everyone is OK, then seek medical and law enforcement help and know what to do to protect yourself from legal or financial problems down the road.

“The best defense to avoid any problems after a crash is to be prepared. Keeping a pen and paper, disposable camera or cell phone camera, and copy of your insurance card easily accessible at all times will help keep you organized and decrease stress moments after a collision..”

So what should you do right after you have an accident? 


  • Assist the Injured. Quickly check with those involved in the collision to determine if there are any injuries. If medical attention is needed, call 911. If medical attention is not needed, make sure you are not in imminent danger at the roadside.


  • Control the Scene. Before taking time to exchange information, get to a safe place.  If there are no injuries and the vehicle is drivable, safely move to the right or left emergency lane.  Some state laws require drivable vehicles to be removed from the roadway to avoid traffic congestion. Turn on your hazard lights and set out warning flares or reflective triangles. Do not leave the scene of the crash, but find a safe place to remain until emergency services arrive.


  • Notify the Police and Submit a Report. The law requires you to notify the police. No matter what either party says, call the police and file a report. If the police do not come to the scene to open an investigation, you can file a report by visiting a local police department or automobile insurance agency in the days after a crash. Having a report on file may help later if a liability claim is filed.


  • Document the Scene and Exchange Information. It is important to exchange and gather information with all parties involved in the crash, including witnesses. Having this on file will help complete any future paperwork or address potential problems. 


  • AAA suggests that you document: Names: addresses/email addresses; vehicle information including makes, models and years for all cars involved; vehicle identification/license plate numbers; driver’s license numbers, insurance carriers and policy numbers; take photos of the location and damaged vehicles.


  • Notify Your Insurance Carrier. Your insurance carrier will need to be notified following a crash to start the proper claim filing. Many insurance companies have staff available 24/7 and can assist immediately. Having proof of insurance in your vehicle is required by law and makes filing a claim easier if not at home.


The law office of Phillips & Millman endorses each of these recommendations and wants to remind motorists involved in an accident to remain calm, stay safe on the roadside until medical help and the authorities arrive; and don’t forget that our attorneys can help you navigate what is truly an awful predicament.