How to Deal With a Minor Car Accident. Getting in a car accident can be scary, even if it’s just a minor one. Even if no one is hurt, there are still a few key steps you need to take to protect yourself and your insurance rates. It’s okay to feel nervous or freaked out after an accident—just take a deep breath, make sure you’re okay, and move your car to safety.
Assessing the Situation
- Make sure nobody is hurt. It’s not likely that you’ll be injured during a minor crash, but it’s always good to check. Take a deep breath and check yourself for whiplash or headaches. If you’re okay, move onto checking on your passengers, too. Ask them if they feel any pain, discomfort, or headaches, as this could be a sign of a concussion.
- If anyone is hurt badly, call for emergency services right away.
- Move your car out of the way of traffic. If your accident happened in the middle of the road, it could be dangerous to leave your car there. If your car is driveable, pull over to the right or emergency lane. Turn on your hazards to let other drivers know that your car is stopped to keep yourself safe.
- In some states, it’s required by law to pull your car out of the way of traffic after an accident.
- Call the police and make a report. It might seem unnecessary, but filing a police report is required for any accident (even small ones). The police report will help the insurance companies determine who is responsible for paying.
- If the police aren’t available to come onto the scene, you can file a report by visiting a police station within 72 hours of the accident.
- Note the other car’s license plate number, make, model and color. There’s a chance that the other driver may try to drive off, especially if they’re at fault. As soon as your car stops moving, look at the back of their car. Note the license plate number, and keep repeating it out loud until you can write it down. Do the same with the make, model and color.
- Turn this information into a string you can memorize and give it a rhythm. For example: “Blue Toyota Corolla 922 RIE.”
- Try to take a picture of the car if you can do it safely.
- If the other car flees the scene, this will be helpful when you report your accident.
- Look for witnesses. If the accident happened in sight of pedestrians, a shop, or other drivers, ask them to stay on the scene until the police arrive so that they can provide statements. If possible, get their name and phone number in case you need to contact them again.
- This is especially important if the other driver was at fault.
- Exchange information with the other driver. Even if you don’t see any damages on your car, you should exchange your information with the other driver just in case. Make sure you give them your info, too, so they can alert their insurance company. If the other person doesn’t have insurance, get their name, number and address. If they do have insurance, write down the other person’s:
- Full name, address, and email address.
- Driver’s license number.
- License plate number.
- Insurance company and policy number.
- Make, model and color of the vehicle.
- Take pictures of any damages. Use your phone to document your vehicle, the other person’s vehicle, the location, and any property that was damaged in the crash. You can also take pictures of any stop signs and traffic lights nearby to use as a reference.
- The pictures will be for your insurance company, so they should paint an accurate picture of the scene.
Reporting the Accident
- Make a report to the police officer detailing what happened. If an officer shows up at the scene, you can use your car and the other person’s to go into detail. If you’re filing a report later, you can use your photos to tell the story. Be specific about what happened and include as many details as possible.
- Some states don’t require you to report your accident if no one got hurt or the vehicle wasn’t damaged. If you don’t know your specific state’s laws, make a report just to be on the safe side.
- If the officer provides a reference number for the police report, make sure you jot it down.
- If the other car fled the scene, you can tell the police officer any information you remember about their car.
- Do not admit you were at fault for the accident. Even if you think you caused the accident, you should never admit to being at fault. If you tell people you’re at fault and it’s on record, you might be held responsible for damages. Minor Car Accident
- Be especially careful to not admit fault when talking to the other driver or the police. If you do, it’ll be recorded in the police report.
- Notify your insurance company of the accident. Most insurance companies require that you notify them of any accident, including minor ones. Call your insurance company as soon as possible to let them know about the accident, and include as many details as possible.
- This is especially important if your car needs repairs.
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