Nearly 1,500 North Carolinians lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents in 2018. Combined with nearly a quarter-million injuries, many state residents have felt the impact of a car accident on their lives.

However, not all drivers know what to do in the aftermath of a crash. These stressful situations likely involve significant property damage, if not injury or death. Following proper crash reporting protocols can help alleviate these stressors and ensure that drivers involved in car accidents legally protect themselves.

Steps immediately after a crash

Drivers who follow these steps will stay in compliance with state and city laws and help assemble any evidence for a potential liability lawsuit.

  • Remain at the scene: Do not leave the scene of an accident unless told to do so by authorities. If the police were not called, one may leave after collecting driver information. Leaving an accident may incur a hit and run criminal charge.
  • Check for injury: Check yourself and passengers for any injury. If severe, call an ambulance immediately. If no one appears hurt, check with the other driver. Lend help if possible.
  • Report the accident: North Carolina law requires reporting accidents if they cause injury, death or damage of at least $1,000. Immediately inform the police of any injured parties.
  • Collect evidence: Take photos and video of the crash site. Any evidence can help determine negligence and secure restitution for drivers not at fault.
  • Exchange information: From the other drivers, collect names, addresses, driver’s license information, and vehicle information number (VIN).
  • Inform insurance provider: North Carolina law requires drivers carry minimum insurance coverage. Regardless of fault, inform the car insurance company so they can begin to process the claim.
  • Call an attorney: If a liability suit is likely, drivers may want to call a local lawyer to assess their claim. An attorney can answer any questions about the legal process and help understand what to expect.

Understand local laws

Understanding driver expectations after a crash help authorities and legislators keep North Carolina residents safe. Following these steps will legally protect drivers and provide the necessary assistance to the injured.