While not all crashes had fatalities, some 4.5 million people were still injured last year. After all, even a fender bender, no matter how minor, can still lead to whiplash injuries, bruises, or cuts.
But say you got into a minor collision and no one seems to be in a life-threatening situation. What do you do?
First, try not to panic. Take a few deep breaths and then follow these five steps.
1. Pull Over to the Side of the Road
Do this only if you’re sure you or your passengers aren’t injured. Moving someone who’s injured can cause more damage. In this case, you should dial 911 to get emergency help first.
If everyone in your car is only in a daze but otherwise fine, pull over to the side of the road. Switch on your hazard lights before stepping out of the car to check on the other vehicle. See if anyone in the other car needs medical emergency services.
2. Call the Police Right after the Fender Bender
In some states, calling the police to report a car accident is a legal obligation. Each state has its own rules though, so be sure you’re aware of your state’s road laws.
In Nevada, for example, you need to notify the police if someone sustains injuries in the crash. In Massachusetts, you also need to file a report if there’s over $1,000 in property damage. In Alabama, a report is necessary if there are personal injuries or over $250 in property damage.
Regardless of who’s at fault, calling the police should be one of your first steps after a car accident. That way, they can protect the scene, and investigate and document the accident. This is especially important if you believe the other driver is at fault for negligence.
Unsure of what makes for driver negligence? You can learn more here to protect your rights as a possible victim.
3. Exchange Auto Insurance Details
Get the other driver’s complete name, address, contact information, and insurance details. List the other driver’s license information and plate number. Note the make, model, and year of the other vehicle.
Give the other driver your information too. Your and their insurer will contact each other to determine damages and responsibilities.
4. Document Everything
Take as many photos of the accident, especially of all vehicles involved. Get these photos in as many angles as you can to make insurance negotiations easier. You’ll need these to support your insurance claim.
Get the names and contact information of witnesses too, especially of other passengers. Even bystanders who might have seen the accident can help. Ask for the names and badge number of the responding police officers.
5. Report to Your Insurance Company
Call your insurance company while at the scene. Even if the fender bender accident only caused minor car damages.
They’ll tell you what else to do after a car accident and how you can file a claim.
Remain as Calm as You Can
Even a fender bender that doesn’t rack up huge medical bills can leave veteran drivers in a panic. Especially for motorists who get into their first accident. But by knowing these steps on what to do after a minor car accident, you can protect yourself.
Check out our other travel tips and hacks to keep yourself and your passengers safe on the road!