Every driver at some point will get into a car accident. Whether you’re experienced or a beginner, some mishaps are just unavoidable. Don’t worry though – often, these are minor cases (usually fender benders) with no personal injuries involved. It is a person’s instinct to simply forget about the situation, and then have his or her car repaired at a trusted auto shop.
But could this move give you more headaches down the road?
What The Law Says
When it comes to minor car accidents, it actually depends on two things: the state where you live in and the type of damages sustained.
In California for instance, citizens are required to report minor car accidents – involving personal injury and/or property damage – that account for $750 or more. One should also file an SR-1 form to the DMV within 10 days of the incident. Failure to comply may get your license suspended or get you fined.
As to the question of whether or not to report it to your auto insurance agent is another matter. Depending on your policy, you could get away with just shouldering the expense on your own. However, if your insurance provider finds out about the accident, it may affect your premium. Your best bet is to ask about the best action to take during such situations.
What To Do
Don’t be caught off-guard by minor car accidents! Remain calm and follow these steps to avoid further headaches:
- NEVER say you’re sorry or imply that it was your fault – even if it was.
- MOVE your vehicle off the street or highway to prevent becoming an obstruction to traffic.
- EXCHANGE vital information with the other driver. Get these details: place and time of accident; other driver’s name, address, date of birth, license plate number, insurance company, policy number, expiration date of policy; vehicle owner’s name and address (if different from the driver).
- ASK assistance from authorities if the other driver is uncooperative. Remember, exchanging info is a requirement!
- GATHER whatever evidence you can at the scene. This may come in handy if you later decide to file for a claim. Use your phone to take pictures and make important notes. Get witness statements if needed.
- SEEK medical help – even if you feel alright. Some injuries, like whiplash, could take days or weeks before it becomes apparent. Damages in the foot, leg, or knee may also appear afterwards.
Being prepared will prevent you from the stress of receiving unknown claims or notices. The same goes for getting calls or visits from the other party’s insurance provider. Do NOT make statements you are not sure of. Otherwise, you may find yourself at the short end of the stick. Consult a legal expert first before giving away any information.
If you encounter such a scenario, take advantage of free consultations offered by many law firms. Experienced car accident attorneys would be happy to take a look at your case for you, free of charge, if you contact them. Ask friends or family for recommendations today.