Steps to Take After a Car Accident in North Carolina


Car accidents happen every day across the Triangle and across the state. There are more than 250,000 crashes reported to police in North Carolina every year. You are likely to be involved in a car accident at some point. It will most likely be a fender-bender, but it could be much worse and cause serious personal injury.

You need to know what to do after a car accident, regardless of whether the accident is your fault or someone else’s fault. It is also important to be aware of the missteps to avoid after a car crash. If you are in North Carolina, where our law firm helps car accident victims, there are certain steps that you need to take after a car accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in North Carolina, you should have a clear understanding of your legal rights. Talk to a personal injury attorney at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., in Raleigh, N.C., as soon as possible. A serious car accident will involve the police, doctors, insurance companies, and possibly the courts. Only your attorney is obligated to look after your best interests.

What to Do After a Car Accident

  • Ensure Safety: First, move your vehicle to a safe location away from traffic if it is possible and safe to do so. Then, turn on your hazard lights to make your car more visible to other drivers.
  • Check for Injuries: Check yourself, any passengers, and individuals in other vehicles involved in the accident for any injuries. Remember not to move anyone who is injured unless they are in immediate danger, such as from a car fire.
  • Call 911: Always report the accident to the police, even for minor crashes, as a police report can be crucial for insurance claims. If there are any injuries or significant property damage, make sure to request an ambulance.
  • Exchange Information: Collect the full name, contact information, insurance details, and vehicle information from the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Be careful not to admit fault or make statements that could be interpreted as admitting liability.
  • Document the Scene: Take pictures of the accident scene, including all vehicles involved, any injuries, and relevant road signs or signals. If there are any witnesses, ask them for their contact information.
  • Report to Your Insurance Company: Contact your insurance company to report the accident as soon as possible. Provide them with all the collected information from the scene and cooperate fully with their investigation.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Even if your injuries seem minor or you do not feel injured, it is important to see a doctor after the accident. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent but could cause complications later.
  • Consult with a Car Accident Attorney: Consider consulting with an attorney, especially if the accident resulted in significant injuries or damage, or if there are legal complexities involved.

Reporting a Car Wreck to the Police

North Carolina law requires you to report a motor vehicle accident to law enforcement authorities as soon as possible if it has caused an injury, death, or property damage. Within city limits, call local police. Otherwise, call the N.C. Highway Patrol or county sheriff’s department. In most places in North Carolina, you can dial 911 locally or *HP (*47) for the N.C. Highway Patrol.

If your car accident injury claim goes to court, the report filed by the responding police officer, sheriff’s deputy, or N.C. Highway patrolman is the only description of the accident that may be used as evidence. North Carolina law (G.S. 20-166.1(i)) specifically says “a report of an accident made … by a person who is not a law enforcement officer … shall not be used in any manner as evidence, or for any other purpose in any trial, civil or criminal, arising out of the accident.”

North Carolina Car Accident Laws

north carolina car accidents laws

North Carolina law requires drivers involved in a crash to exchange names, phone numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and their vehicles’ registration numbers. It is also a good idea to share information about your insurance company and policy numbers.

Technically, you are to provide the information if requested by the driver or occupants of other vehicles involved in the accident or by someone who has been hit by your vehicle. If you are uncomfortable dealing with the other driver for any reason, the responding law enforcement officer will collect this information from each of you and make the exchange.

As you talk with police and with your insurance company, answer questions honestly, but just provide the facts. Answer with just “Yes” or “No” whenever possible. Don’t blame anyone for the crash and don’t accept blame.

While waiting for police to arrive, take photos of the crash scene, your vehicles and their damage, your injuries, and anything else that will help show what happened. Get names and contact information from any witnesses, including your passengers.

Filing a Claim with Your Insurance Company

Notify your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible. Either way, you will need:

  • The insured driver’s full name.
  • Insurance policy number.
  • Start and expiration date of the policy.
  • Date, time, and location of the accident.
  • Driver’s license and license plate numbers for each driver and vehicle in the accident.
  • General description of the accident.
  • General description of your injuries.

The last two points are important. Be cautious when describing the accident and your injuries. Just state facts, such as, “It was a right-angle crash with the other vehicle’s front hitting my driver’s side door, and I suffered a broken leg.” Do not downplay your injuries or complain about how bad they are. Do not talk about who is at fault.

Getting a Copy of Your NC Car Accident Report

Your insurance company will require a copy of the accident report. To obtain one, download and complete a Crash Report Request Form (TR-67A) from the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles. Mail it and a check payable to NCDMV to:

Traffic Records Branch
Crash Reports Unit
3106 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27697-3106

In Raleigh, you can go to DMV Headquarters at 1100 New Bern Avenue to get a copy of the accident report.

Five Common Mistakes After a Car Accident

five mistakes people commonly make after a car accident infographic

It’s just as important to understand the mistakes that people make after a car accident. There are certain common missteps to watch out for to avoid undermining a valid insurance claim.

Here are 5 mistakes you can avoid making if you get in a car accident:

  • Not calling the police. It’s tempting to keep the aftermath of a car accident simple by not involving the police. Another motorist may offer to pay for your damages out of pocket if you don’t call the police. But you cannot count on this working out. A police report is an official record of the accident and who was involved. Without a police report, you will have difficulty pursuing an accident claim. What if you hear from the other driver’s insurer or lawyer later with demands about what you owe them? Protect yourself. Call the police immediately after a car accident.
  • Not seeing a doctor right away. Seeing a doctor provides the medical care that you need and creates a medical record of your injuries related to the accident. You also need to follow all doctors’ orders for treatment. If you make a claim for compensation based on an injury but didn’t seek medical care right away, what is a judge or jury to make of your claim? See a doctor within 24 hours of a car crash and tell her or him about every ache or pain that could possibly be related to the crash, including old problems made worse.
  • Giving a recorded statement to insurance. Insurance companies want to pay out as little as possible on a car accident claim. They’ll use any statement you make to discount your claim if they can. Giving a recorded statement to another driver’s insurance company is a misstep to avoid. Talk to a personal injury lawyer before allowing the other driver’s insurer to take a recorded statement.
  • Not filing medical bills with your health insurance. Some accident victims expect an at-fault driver’s insurance to pay their medical bills and therefore don’t file with their own insurer. But a third-party insurer will not pay upfront and, in the meantime, your late bills could go into collections. The at-fault driver’s insurer will only pay at the end of your treatment or only when a disputed case has been settled. Instruct your medical care provider to file all medical bills with your health care insurance provider. In the meantime, keep receipts. Your personal injury attorney will be sure to calculate all of your medical costs in the demand made to insurers on your behalf.
  • Accepting a quick settlement. When dealing with a serious injury and mounting bills after a car accident, it can be tempting to accept what seems like a good settlement just to ease your mind. But no one knows what your full medical costs will be until you are completely healed. Never accept a quick, early settlement offer. You must wait until you have been discharged by all doctors and therapists to know what a proper settlement for medical expenses connected to your car accident looks like.

Contact Our Car Accident Attorneys in North Carolina

After a serious car accident, a knowledgeable and determined car accident attorney can help you pursue a proper insurance settlement for medical expenses and other losses caused by the accident. It costs you nothing to discuss your personal injury case with an experienced legal professional at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., in Raleigh, N.C. If we can pursue compensation for you, we will handle all dealings with the insurance companies so that you may focus on your medical recovery.

Our attorneys have the knowledge, experience, and resources to take on your case and pursue the full compensation that you are allowed to claim. Don’t wait. Contact us today for a free legal consultation. Even if you don’t hire us, you will understand what you deserve after a car accident.