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What Should I Do After A Minor Car Accident?

A fender bender is a popular way to describe a minor accident between two motor vehicles that cause little property damage and even less damage to the occupants of both automobiles. Wipe down the area of your car that has lost a little paint and off you go to continue your daily routine.

No hassle at all.

However, a minor traffic car accident in which nobody got hurt and the impact barely left a scratch on either party’s car should not be disregarded as an impact that resembles the power of two bumper cars meeting in the middle of an amusement park attraction. If you get involved in a minor car accident, you should follow many of the same protocols that are required to be followed after a more significant auto collision.

What Is A Minor Car Accident?

Any time you experience a car accident, it can feel like a major problem, especially if it dings up the car a bit. However, both insurance companies and law enforcement agencies consider it a huge difference between a minor and a major car accident.

For an auto collision that results in considerable property damage and causes injuries to one or more parties, a law enforcement agency responds to the scene of the accident to determine what caused the collision. A formal report issued by the responding law enforcement agency is the most influential document that establishes whether one or more parties should assume legal liability for causing the incident.

On the other hand, a minor vehicle accident frequently does not require the response of a law enforcement agency. In fact, when contacted about a fender bender, a law enforcement agency might instruct both parties to exchange names and contact information before getting on with the rest of the day. Insurance companies typically view minor car accidents as a mere formality when completing the documents that settle a claim. The time and money required to contest a claim for a minor car accident are not worth the effort for insurance adjusters reviewing minor car accident claims.

Finally, a minor auto collision might not be worth the cost of hiring a personal injury attorney to process a claim, and it certainly does not warrant the filing of a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages from another party.

What Are The Most Common Causes Of Minor Auto Collisions?

Minor car accidents unfold for a wide variety of reasons, and they do not always involve more than one vehicle. For example, you can experience a minor car accident by driving over a pothole or making contact with a stationary object at a low speed because bad weather caused you to swerve outside of your driving lane. When two motor vehicles collide at low speeds, the cause of the impact might be attributable to issues such as limited visibility at night and one party not noticing a traffic sign.

Driver distraction at a low speed, such as texting while moving through a grocery store parking lot, can cause a minor accident in which no one gets hurt and damage done to either vehicle is minimal at best.

What Are The Types Of Damages Caused By A Minor Car Accident?

Because minor car accidents often occur at low driving speeds, the low impact causes minor damage to both vehicles involved in a crash. One of the most common types of damage produced by a minor car accident is one or more dents to the front or back side of a motor vehicle. The best example of minor impact damage is when one car backs out slowly from a parking space and hits a second vehicle while moving at a slow speed. Both motor vehicles receive an impact that leaves behind a few dents that an auto repair shop can repair in just a couple of hours.

In the parking lot example, vehicle impact at a low speed can bust out a headlight and/or a taillight. A cracked window and/or windshield is another sign of a minor motor vehicle collision. Fender damage, as well as one or more punctures to a tire, also indicate a minor car collision.

What Are The Most Common Types Of Injuries Caused By A Minor Car Accident?

Two factors define the seriousness of a car accident: The extent of property damage and the type of injuries. Of the two, the type of injuries is the more important factor when it comes to determining the seriousness of a motor vehicle collision. A serious car accident produces injuries that require immediate medical attention, such as fractures, whiplash, and head trauma. For a major car accident, at least one of the drivers and/or passengers of the cars involved must seek immediate medical attention.

Minor car accidents produce self-healing scratches and/or bruises. Time is the medical antidote for the injuries to heal properly. A mild auto collision can cause temporary back and/or chest pain. You might experience a short-term headache or feel temporary numbness in one or both legs. Despite sustaining injuries that do not require immediate medical care, you should get the minor injuries eventually checked out to ensure you do not suffer from any delayed symptoms that signal the development of a serious injury such as whiplash or brain trauma.

How Should I Handle A Minor Car Accident?

Many of the steps that you should take after a serious car accident apply to a minor auto collision as well. The key is to remain calm and make sure everyone, including pedestrians, has not suffered serious injuries.

Contact The Nearest Law Enforcement Agency

Contacting the closest law enforcement agency represents the first indication of whether the car accident you are involved in is considered minor or major. The representative of the law enforcement agency that you call will determine whether a response is necessary to process the scene of the accident. If a law enforcement agency decides not to respond to the accident, then you can consider the incident to be minor. Make sure to write down the name and badge number of the law enforcement officer, as well as the phone number of the police station.

Check On The Status Of Everyone Involved

Just because you were not hurt does not mean another party did not sustain a serious injury. Check on the physical status of everyone involved in the car accident. Pay special attention to the signs and symptoms of invisible injuries, such as head trauma and damage done to the spine. You might not have sustained a serious injury, but that does mean someone involved in the collision does not require immediate medical care.

Exchange Information

Even for a minor car accident, you have to file an insurance claim to pay for the cost of medical care and property damage. This means you should exchange information with the other party, which includes name and contact information. All parties involved must obtain insurance information by exchanging cards or writing down the name and contact information of each auto insurance company.

Speak With Witnesses

Witness accounts for a significant car crash support the evidence gathered at the scene of the accident. For minor auto collisions, witness accounts play an important role for insurance companies to determine fault. Ask for the names and contact information of witnesses and if possible, ask a few questions at the scene of the incident. Witness accounts provided right after a car accident tend to be more reliable than the statements given by witnesses days or weeks after a vehicle collision.

Collect Evidence

For a minor auto collision that does not involve a law enforcement agency, you should take photographs of the accident scene to submit with your insurance claim. Photos of your minor injuries and the damage done to your vehicle provide your car insurance company with the physical evidence it needs to calculate a value for your claim.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Although a minor car accident typically does not generate substantial medical and auto repair bills, it can cost you enough money to justify the filing of an auto insurance claim. After you complete every step after a car accident, you should contact your auto insurance company to describe what happened and that you plan to file a formal claim within the next day or two.

One of the most important tips to remember after any car accident is never to admit fault to the other party. Admitting fault can hurt your chances of getting a car insurance claim approved.

The Role Of A Personal Injury Attorney

A minor car accident usually does not require the legal services of an experienced personal injury attorney. However, to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve from your car insurance company, working with a state-licensed personal injury lawyer can expedite the claim filing process. Most personal injury lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis, which means your attorney receives a percentage of the compensation you receive from an approved insurance claim.

More Information:

Alek Beynenson, Esq.

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(516) 588-6224

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