Fender Bender Guide
Steps to take in a minor accident.
In the blink of an eye, even the most careful driver can be involved in an auto accident. Most often due to speeding, driver distractions, crossing the yellow line, not stopping at stop signs or red lights, or violating the rules of the road, whether your fault or not, auto accidents are always distressful and unexpected.
Thousands of car accidents happen each year. Chances are, you’ll be part of one at some point. Knowing ahead of time how to handle these nerve-wracking situations will help you get the information you need to resolve your insurance claims as quickly and easily as possible as well as settle any legal issues that may arise. If you’re responsible enough to drive a car, you should be responsible enough to know how to handle an accident.
Step by step, here’s what to do in the event you’re involved in a minor accident.
- Stay calm. Don’t panic. Take a deep breath and assess the situation.
- 2. Check for injuries in your car or in the other vehicle. If any passengers are injured, call 911 for emergency assistance.
- Turn on your emergency flashers (hazard lights). If your automobile is blocking traffic and if the accident is minor, move your auto to the side of the road.
- Call the police—even in a minor fender bender. An officer will compile the facts into a police report that may be used in lawsuits or insurance investigations. He will also be able to direct any blocked traffic or determine if alcohol is a factor in the accident.
- Grab a pen and paper or use your insurance agency’s smartphone app to collect information. (Download yours today so you’re prepared.) Record the time and exact location of the accident. If possible, note the address. If no address is available, get the mile marker or nearby landmark. Also note the weather conditions.
- Write down the names, phone numbers, and addresses of the other driver and any other passengers of the vehicle. Note how many people were in the other car.
- Write down the other driver’s insurance information (company name, policy number, and phone number).
- If you have your cell phone handy, take a few photos to document the scene. Take clear pictures of the damage (to cars or property), the other car’s license plate, the other driver (if possible), the scene of the accident (position of cars, road conditions, debris in the road, surroundings).
- Talk to witnesses and record their names and contact information. Then write down in their words what they saw happen.
- If police are on the scene, write down the name of the officer, his badge number, and the police report number.
- If your car must be towed, remove any valuables or belongings before allowing the vehicle to be taken away.
- Call your insurance agent to report the accident.
I don’t believe in accidents. There are only encounters in history. There are no accidents. - Pablo Picasso
With the 12 steps above, you’ll be in good shape for clearing things up with your insurance company. But there are a few more steps to make the entire process go more smoothly.
- Stay at the scene of the accident until the police and other driver leave.
- Only sign papers given to you by the police or insurance agent.
- Be polite and courteous, but never admit the accident was your fault.
- Only give the facts. Don’t talk about what happened in the accident with anyone (other driver, witnesses) but the police or your insurance agent.
- Keep your insurance coverage to yourself. Don’t talk about your limits.
- If damages are extensive or if a passenger in your car is injured, speak with an attorney about legal rights, responsibilities, and possible compensation.
- You may decide to pay for damages out of pocket rather than reporting the accident to your insurance company, because you’re worried your rates will increase. This is your decision to make, but if the other driver files a claim with his insurance, you may have missed your window to file with your insurance. Therefore, it’s recommended that you quickly file a claim.
- Drive safely. Drive defensively. Don’t drink and drive. Stay alert and follow the rules of the road. Do your part to keep the roads safe.