What to Do After a Minor Car Accident?
The sound of metal against metal sends shivers down your spine as you feel the sudden jolt of impact. In that split second, your heart races, and a million thoughts flood your mind. It’s a scenario none of us ever want to face, but car accidents, even minor ones, can happen when we least expect them.
Whether it’s a fender bender in a parking lot or a slight collision at a traffic light, knowing what to do after a minor car accident can make all the difference when dealing with the aftermath of a car accident.
So, what should you do after a minor accident?
Move to a safe spot, check for any injuries, and call for help. Exchange info with the other driver, photograph the scene and consult a lawyer for legal guidance.
What Steps Should You Take After a Minor Car Accident?
You should follow the below steps immediately after a minor car accident to navigate the situation effectively and minimize any potential complications.
Step 1: Check for Injuries
The first and immediate action should be to check yourself and your passengers for any injuries. If anyone is hurt, call 911 and seek medical assistance from first responders at the accident scene.
Also, remember even a minor accident can trigger an adrenaline rush, which might temporarily hide feelings of pain, and the injuries might not be obvious right away. Or the symptoms might show up hours or even days after the accident.
Hence, it is advisable to refrain from making statements such as “I’m not hurt” during interactions with law enforcement or insurance adjusters until qualified medical professionals thoroughly evaluate you, your passengers, and your vehicle—for example, injuries related to airbag deployment, which might not be evident immediately.
Step 2: Move to a Safe Location
After a minor collision, prioritize the safety of yourself and your passengers. If your car is still operational, carefully drive it off the highway or roadway to allow traffic to flow smoothly. If a shoulder is available, pull over as far as possible.
Ideally, find an accessible parking area to keep the streets clear of disabled vehicles and reduce the risk of further injury from passing cars. However, if your car is unsafe to drive, promptly move it to the side of the road or a nearby sidewalk to avoid any potential road hazards.
Step 3: Document the Scene
Once you have ensured everyone’s safety and assessed for potential injuries, gather evidence of the crash. This evidence can be crucial in determining the extent of fault assigned to each party involved in the accident.
If it is safe, use your smartphone camera to take photos of the accident scene. Capture images of:
- The positions of the vehicles involved
- Damage to each vehicle
- Any visible injuries to yourself or others
- Road conditions that may have contributed to the accident
- Traffic signals or signs at the scene
Step 4: Contact Law Enforcement
Regardless of the accident’s severity, it is essential to report it to the police. Call the local law enforcement or the appropriate authority to report the incident.
Having a car accident police report is essential for safeguarding your legal rights, both personally and with insurance companies. Without an official accident report, insurance companies are less likely to provide coverage for damages.
Step 5: Exchange Information
After ensuring safety and reporting the accident, exchange essential information with the other driver(s) involved in the collision. Obtain the following details:
- Names and contact information (phone numbers and addresses) of all drivers involved.
- Insurance company names and policy numbers of each driver.
- Vehicle details, including make, model, and license plate numbers.
Step 6: Gather Witness Information
If there are any witnesses to the accident, ask for their names and contact information. Witnesses can provide statements that help clarify the sequence of events and support your case if there are any disputes regarding the fault.
Step 7: Don’t Accept or Admit Blame for the Crash
After a minor car accident, it’s crucial to remain composed and courteous while awaiting the authorities at the scene. However, make sure not to offer a statement of fault or apologize, as this could be perceived as accepting responsibility for the incident.
Even if you feel partially responsible, avoid admitting blame in any way. Your empathy may lead you to create a false narrative, so it’s best to let the police officer draw their conclusions. Answer their questions honestly and concisely, providing the necessary information without volunteering unnecessary details.
Step 8: Stay at the Accident Scene Until Cleared to Leave
You should always remain at the accident scene until authorities clear you to leave. Regardless of how minor the accident may seem, never flee once law enforcement has been notified. This is because leaving the accident scene is considered a criminal offense.
So make sure to stay there unless your injuries require immediate treatment. In such cases, law enforcement will be able to reach out to you in the hospital.
Step 9: Notify Your Insurance Company
After taking initial actions, you must contact your car insurance company to report the accident. It is an essential step, regardless of who is at fault, because it can protect you from potential claims against you that the other driver may make. Provide them with accurate and honest information about the incident. Be prepared to share the details of the other driver(s) involved and any witness information you may have obtained.
Step 10: Seek Medical Attention
Even in minor car accidents, don’t overlook the importance of seeking medical attention, even if you believe your injuries are not severe. Some injuries from auto accidents, like whiplash or internal trauma, may not manifest immediately. A prompt medical evaluation can help detect and record concealed injuries, which is crucial for insurance claims and legal purposes.
Step 11: Keep Records
Maintain thorough records of all aspects related to the accident. It includes:
- Copies of the police report
- Medical reports and bills
- Car repair estimates and receipts
- Communication with your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company
- Other relevant documents related to the accident
Step 12: Consult an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
In a minor car accident, it’s essential to be aware that injuries might not immediately surface, and the damages could be more extensive than they appear at first glance, especially once car repairs begin. While taking the proper steps after the accident is crucial, contacting an experienced car accident lawyer becomes paramount to safeguarding your rights.
A lawyer can navigate the complexities of your case, deal with insurance companies, and protect your interests throughout the process. Having a competent attorney by your side can make a substantial difference in securing the compensation you deserve and addressing any potential long-term consequences of the accident.
Need Help After a Car Accident? Contact Uptown Injury
Getting into a car accident, even minor, can be a frightening and stressful experience, significantly if you are injured. But before you contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you need to contact an experienced auto accident lawyer at Uptown Injury Law.
For over 15 years, our experienced car accident attorneys have built a reputation for excellence in the legal industry. When you work with us, you can be confident that your car accident case is in the best possible hands. Furthermore, our attorneys work on a contingency-fee-basis. That means you pay us nothing unless we win your case.
What Defines a Minor Car Crash?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a minor crash is an accident that meets all of the following criteria: the vehicle can be driven away from the crash site, the door nearest the car seat is undamaged, no passengers sustained severe injuries, airbags did not deploy (if present), and there is no visible damage to the car seat.
What if the Other Driver’s Insurance Denies My Claim?
If the other driver’s insurance denies your claim, consult with your own insurance company or seek legal advice from experienced car accident lawyers to explore other options to recover compensation for your damages.
What if I’m in a Hit-And-Run Accident?
If you’re in a hit-and-run accident, getting as much information as possible about the other driver is essential. It includes the other car’s model, license plate number, and the direction in which the at-fault driver was moving. In addition, make sure to call the police and file a report.
Can I Negotiate the Settlement With the Insurance Company Myself?
Yes, you can negotiate the settlement independently. However, be aware that insurance companies may try to settle for less than you deserve. Consider seeking legal advice from an experienced car accident attorney to ensure fair compensation.
How Can an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Help Me in a Minor Car Accident?
An experienced car accident lawyer can help you in a minor car accident by protecting your rights, guiding you through the legal process, and ensuring fair compensation. They handle evidence gathering, communication with insurance companies, and negotiations on your behalf, alleviating the legal burden and increasing your chances of a favorable outcome.
How Does the Insurance Company Evaluate Vehicle Damage?
Insurance companies evaluate vehicle damage through inspection, photos, estimation, previous records, total loss threshold, salvage value, and comparative analysis. This process helps determine the appropriate compensation for repair costs or the fair market value in case of a total loss.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
Primarily car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they win the case and receive a percentage (usually around 33%-40%) of the settlement or award. Others may charge an hourly rate or a flat fee for their services. It’s essential to discuss the lawyer’s fee structure and any potential additional costs during the initial consultation to understand the cost of hiring them.
How Long Do I Have to File an Insurance Claim After a Minor Car Accident?
The time limit to file an insurance claim after a minor car accident varies depending on your insurance company and policy terms. Generally, filing the claim as soon as possible is best to ensure a smooth process and avoid potential complications. Hence, make sure to contact your insurance provider immediately after the accident to know the specific time frame and requirements for filing a claim.