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What do I tell 9-1-1?

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2022 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Car crashes are nerve-racking, even if you are not injured. The initial shock of the impact is emotionally traumatic, and the subsequent 9-1-1 call can be equally nerve-racking.

What do you say? What if you say the wrong thing?

The key to most things in life is preparation, and that is true of car accidents as well.

Immediately after the impact

Assess your situation and the impact on your passengers. Are you or your passengers seriously injured, bleeding, conscious, etc. Is anyone in the car pregnant or does anyone have a pre-existing condition that could be worsened by this event?

Next, assess where you are. Do you know the cross streets, an address or some other identifying description of where you are located? Check your GPS location on your phone if you are not sure of your exact location.

The call

Hopefully, now that you have taken a second to assess your surroundings, those involved and your location, it is time to call 9-1-1.

Remember, the first question 9-1-1 will ask you is your location. The next will be the status of those involved, and finally, what happened.

They may not want to dispatch

Depending on your location, your emergency responders may be stretched thin. Be sure to not make the motor vehicle accident sound like a minor fender bender. If you do, you may find that no one arrives, or the 9-1-1 dispatcher refused to dispatch anyone.

If that happens, you will not get a written police report, which can make any subsequent litigation much harder.

If you know there are serious injuries, tell the dispatcher. Let them know people are bleeding, someone was unconscious, a passenger is pregnant, etc.

If you do not know if there are severe injuries, let them know, and ask for an ambulance. You do not know what you do not know, and for all you know, the person that hit you had a heart attack as a result. You also may have a traumatic brain injury that needs treatment too.


The adage “keep it simple, stupid” works for many situations in life, including after a car accident.

Anything you tell the dispatcher can be used for you and against you in any subsequent investigation and litigation. As such, it is best to keep the description of the accident quick and simple and disconnect the call once the dispatcher has what they need.