It’s that awful sound you hear when you pull out of a parking spot or change lanes only to discover — too late! — that another vehicle is already there.
An auto accident is never fun, even when it’s minor. Not knowing what to do can make things worse. Make sure you know what steps to take after a minor car accident (and what not to do!) so you can get back on the road safely.
What to Do After a Minor Car Accident
It’s easy to fly off the handle and get angry at the other driver, but this will only escalate the situation. After any car accident, it’s important to keep your cool. Ask the driver about their well-being and make sure that no one involved has been injured or is in need of emergency medical attention.
Document the Scene
Immediately check the back of the driver’s car and snap a picture of the license plate number, as well as the make and model of the car, just in case the person drives off. Even if the damage is minor, assess and document everything so you can report the situation accurately.
It’s also important to take photos after a car accident, even if it’s a small fender bender. This will give you a record of the actual damage, which you’ll need in case the other driver tries to claim a different version of the events that occurred.
Alert the Police
A police report can provide valuable information to your insurance company for accident-related claims that are filed. For minor car accidents with no damage and no injuries, skip 911 and use the direct numbers for the local police department.
The police will record details at the scene of the accident, but it’s vital you do, too. No matter how small the car accident was, exchange the following information with the other driver:
- Names of the Driver and all passengers
- Driver’s license number and state of driver
- Insurance information of drivers of vehicles involved
- Makes and models and license plate numbers of all vehicles involved
- Contact information of any eyewitnesses
- Date, time, and location of the accident
- Name and badge number of responding police officers
Move Your Vehicle
After a minor car accident, it’s likely your car will be able to be moved. If the accident occurs on a busy street, move your car to help avoid a traffic jam and to keep yourself and passengers safe.
Turn on Your Hazard Lights
It’s a simple step that might get overlooked in the confusion after an accident, but turning on your hazards makes it easier for other vehicles to avoid the scene and for police and an ambulance to find you, if needed.
If there were pedestrians or other drivers who witnessed the accident, make sure you take down their names and contact information.
Contact Your Insurer
Contact your insurance agent as soon as you can. They will be able to help you file an auto claim and offer further guidance so you know what to do after the accident.
Take Care of Yourself
After even a minor car accident, your adrenaline can mask your pain, or a soft-tissue injury might not be noticeable right away. Keep a journal of how you’re feeling, and visit a doctor if needed.
What Not to Do After a Minor Car Accident
Don’t Leave the Scene
Even if it’s just a minor car accident with no damage and no injuries, you should never leave the scene of an accident. You should always check on the other accident participants, exchange insurance information and report it to law enforcement.
Don’t Assume Your Injuries Are Minor
Never assume that they’ll resolve on their own just because it was a minor collision. You might not feel the full extent of your injuries for days, even weeks, after the accident, but you shouldn’t wait to seek medical treatment.
Don’t Lose Your Cool
The first thing you should ask the other driver after an accident is, “Are you okay?” Do not yell at them or make accusations. This can quickly make a minor car accident worse.
Never Admit Fault
Even if you think the situation is your fault, you may be wrong. The police and your insurance company will decide who is to blame. You may only be partially at fault, or there may be circumstances you’re unaware of.
Don’t Be Unprepared
You can never predict when an accident will happen, so it’s important to make sure you’re adequately insured. Connect with a Farm Bureau agent to protect yourself.