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What to do after a car crash and if you need to file an accident report with DOT

If you’re one of thousands of people and are not sure exactly what to do after a car accident, we got your back.  Here is what to do after a car accident:

Pre-Information Exchange

  1. Do not leave the accident
    1. It’s important to help after an accident if possible
    2. If you do leave after a collision, it’s very possible that you get your driver’s license either suspended or revoked
  2. Breathe! Assess the situation and take note of any traffic or dangerous situations like fire, broken glass, etc.
  3. Look for other people that may be injured, and if possible, provide assistance. However, it is important to know that when dealing with an injured person you must be very careful in helping them move, especially if they say they have any major pain.  According to the DMV, it is sometimes best to wait for an ambulance to get to the scene when attempting to move an injured person.
    Drivers exchanging information after car crash
    Image source

Information Exchange (which is required in the state of Washington)

  1. Swap name, address, and contact information with the other people that were in the accident
  2. Take a note of their driver’s license number and get their auto insurance info
  3. Vehicle information like the make and model of the car and license plate number

*it’s also a good idea to get the contact information of any witnesses if needed at a later time

Taking lots and lots of pictures of the accident and all damages can make life a lot easier later down the road if they are needed (there is a good chance that you’ll be taking the notes on a phone so, if possible, take the extra couple minutes to take as many pictures as needed)


Reporting an Accident

Sometimes it is required to report an accident to the Washington State Department of Transportation.  If you do not report the accident to the WSDOT, you risk having your driver’s license suspended.  Washington Law requires you to file an accident report IF the accident report was not filed by a police officer AND IF:

  1. The collision resulted in an injury OR death


  1. Property damage to ANYONE’S property (doesn’t matter whose fault) is $700 or more

Important: if the other driver asks you not to report the accident if they pay for the damage that was done (even if it was exactly $700 worth of damage) you are “still required to file the report” if the above terms were met.

If you need to complete a Collision Report Form you have 4 days to turn it in. You can get a form at your local police department, county sheriff’s office or Washington State Patrol.

If you have been involved in an accident, please call or email our attorneys for a free consultation