Knowing the Law: What To Do in a Minor Car Accident with No Damage?
Car accidents are not all dramatic and dangerous. Many happen out of silly mistakes or unlucky timing and have very little impact on either party involved. When an accident is so minor that there is not any damage, it is easy to question how exactly to proceed.
Is it worth calling in your auto insurance policy if there is nothing to claim for? Do the police need to be involved? Is there any point in going to see the doctor? Can this come back to bite me? These are all valid questions drivers ask themselves after a minor accident, and the answer to all of them is yes.
What Is Considered a Minor Car Accident?
A fender bender is a term used to describe a minor collision between two cars. They tend to result in minimal damage or injury and are usually settled for very little, if any, money outside of court. Make sure to get an estimate for the damage of the vehicle. Most happen at a slow speed in busy areas because the at-fault driver displayed bad driving or bad luck.
The most common place to be involved in a minor accident is in parking lots when looking for parking spaces. Cars often bump into each other when pulling out or turning into a space, or rear-end collide when crawling around in a busy queue.
Even fender benders can end in an auto insurance claim, so it is essential to know how to react.
Essential Steps in Any Car Accident
Most of the things a person should do after a car accident remain the same regardless of severity. Even if the drivers and the cars are uncompromised, a collision still occurred, and certain procedures should still be followed.
Roadside negotiations and handshake deals are far from secure and safe solutions, even if it seems easier at the time. Here are a few things that every driver should do after every accident if they want o keep themselves right with the law.
Stay Calm and Clear the Road
Panicking is the worst thing to do after a car accident and is likely to do nothing more than escalate the situation. Take a breath and assess the situation, then go through the steps.
First, drivers should make sure they are not blocking any roads so that other drivers can pass safely.
The last thing anyone needs is another car coming without noticing them and making everything a lot worse. If the accident happens in a busy area, turn on the hazard lights for safety.
Exchange Contact and Insurance Information
Always exchange information with the other party after a car accident. It does not matter if there is damage, injuries, or anything else- it is essential to provide each other with some details.
Take a photo of the driver's license plate number and car then exchange contact information. Get at least a cell phone number and email address. Also, get the contact information for the other driver's insurance provider, just in case.
Take Photos of the Accident
As well as collecting the contact, insurance, and vehicle information from the other driver, it is a smart idea to collect as much evidence as possible. Take photographs of any car involved in the accident, the surroundings, and the license plate numbers for good measure.
If there are witnesses, speaking with them for a statement and getting their contact information could help further down the line if someone decides to pursue a claim.
Call the Police and Report the Accident
A police report is still important- even for minor accidents. Having official documentation to describe the incident is highly beneficial should either party try to make a claim. Highway patrol can provide police reports for all types of auto accidents, even if there is no damage.
Deciding not to call the police after coming to an agreement with the other driver is a very risky move and not advisable under the law. It leaves people unprotected and at risk of looking at fault.
Stay At the Accident Scene Until a Police Officer Arrives and a Files a Police Report
It is a crime to leave the scene of a car accident, regardless of how serious it is. Stopping to exchange details with the driver of the other car involved is absolutely essential. Law enforcement views leaving the scene of the accident as an admission of guilt in many ways, and the police report is likely to reflect that fact.
Driving away from a minor fender bender before the police arrive is not a smart move and could land a person in trouble. It is always best to wait for a police officer to assess the situation and make sure everything is done by the book.
Double Check for Damage
Even a minor collision can cause property damage- it just might not be noticeable right away. Vehicle damage is not always as obvious as a crushed bumper or missing door, which is why drivers should have their car thoroughly inspected-
While waiting at the accident scene, involved parties should look for any signs of damage on their own car and the other vehicle. If there is cause for either person to claim they need their car repaired, insurance claims may come into play.
If a rental car is involved in an accident with no obvious damage, the person who was driving should still inform the company about it.
Inform Your Insurance Company
Regardless of how serious or minor, always report a car accident to your insurance. It may not feel necessary to report a minor accident to one's insurance if there is little to no damage or major costs involved. Most insurance company policies state that people should report any auto accident or incident to them immediately.
Even if a person does not intend to make an insurance claim, they should still let their insurance company know that an accident occurred, just in case the other driver decides to try their luck and claim for damages or personal injury.
Get Assessed for Physical Injuries
A driver needs to check themselves for injuries, even after a minor car accident. Injuries may not always be so obvious at first, especially if it was a slow-moving collision. Soft tissue injuries and minor whiplash are both common injuries that can become really quite painful if not provided with proper medical treatment.
Always seek medical care if you have any doubts about your well-being. If someone that gets in an accident driving your car does end up with unforeseen medical expenses because of injuries, a claim may be valid. If they do not believe they were the at-fault driver, it is possible to claim for medical bills through the other driver's car insurance agent.
Are There Any Exceptions?
There are one or two instances when the procedures may not be as essential, namely solo car accidents and near misses.
Solo Vehicle Accidents
If there is no other driver involved in a minor car accident, they may not need to report it to their insurance company or make a police report. Of course, if they require car repairs or have some minor injuries, they can still let your insurance provider know.
In the event of a minor accident between a car and the driver's own property, it is probably easier, faster, and cheaper to pay for any small property repairs and leave the insurance company out of it.
Sometimes a person may find themselves involved in a near-miss auto accident. These events can be very frightening and leave people feeling the same as they would have if the cars had come into contact. Of course, near misses rarely result in damage of any kind, so there is no need to involve insurance companies.
If a near miss is caused by a reckless driver and the victim manages to remember the vehicle license plate, they can still make a police report if they feel it necessary.
When to Seek Legal Advice?
A minor car accident with no damage is unlikely to end in a claim or the need for Nashville TN car accident lawyers, but it never hurts to have one on standby just in case. Nobody can ever be entirely sure how the other people involved might react, and it is worth being prepared for anything.
If the other driver does start a claims process, an experienced attorney can help to shut it down and avoid an unnecessarily dragged-out frivolous case.
Anybody can reach out for advice in the aftermath of a minor car accident, just to ensure they have covered all the bases.
Minor car accidents with no damage still require the same basic immediate reactions. Both parties' insurance companies should be informed, and an accident report filed. Never forget to check for injuries, even if the accident was not severe.
If you have been involved in a minor car accident and are unsure of how to proceed, give us a call to arrange a free consultation under the privilege of an attorney-client relationship to put your mind at ease.