Some of the most common car accidents that occur on a day-to-day basis are minor "fender benders." These accidents can happen when you're backing out of a parking space or when you misjudge the stopping distance and bump the car in front of you. Most of the time, these minor fender benders don't cause any injuries to the driver or passengers.
Sometimes, they still result in minor damage to your cars such as a small scratch or dent. After a minor car accident, you may be wondering whether it's really necessary to report the accident, especially if there was minimal damage to your car and you didn't sustain any injuries.
Do You Need to Report the Accident to Law Enforcement?
Whether you need to contact law enforcement depends on the state in which you live as well as the circumstances surrounding the accident. In Florida, you must report an accident if it resulted in vehicle or property damage in an apparent amount of at least $500 and/or if it resulted in injury and/or death.
One of the most important things you should do after an accident is to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver(s) involved. If the other driver is being uncooperative or doesn't have insurance, you should contact law enforcement right away to help you get this information. Depending on where the accident occurred, the law enforcement agency that will come to the scene may be the municipal police, county sheriff, or highway patrol.
Another important reason to contact law enforcement at the time of an accident is because of the possibility of injuries. Even though you may not feel injured, many injuries don't manifest until several days afterward. If you don't immediately contact law enforcement and find that you're injured several weeks later, the other driver may claim that the accident never occurred. Without a police report, it's your word against theirs.
Reporting an Accident to Your Insurance Company
If you've been involved in a minor car accident, you may be hesitant to report the accident to your insurance company. You may do this because you're afraid that your insurance rates will increase or because you think things can be worked out with the other driver without having to involve your insurance company. Although it can be difficult to enforce, nearly all auto insurance policies require that you report any and all accidents to the insurer. Failing to report an accident to your insurance company may result in penalties or complications down the road.
What to Do After a Minor Car Accident
After a car accident, you may be in shock and unsure of what to do. Even minor fender benders can cause stress and anxiety. Here are a few tips to remember after a minor car accident:
- Stay calm: It's easy to get stressed out or upset after being involved in a car accident, but it's just not worth it – especially if no one was hurt.
- Don't admit fault: Even if you think you're to blame, it's important that you don't apologize or admit fault at the scene of an accident.
- Call law enforcement: Having the police at the scene is important even if no one was injured. After the police arrive, they'll get everyone's information, investigate the accident, and write up a police report for your records.
- Get insurance information: Regardless of whether police are at the scene, make sure you exchange insurance information with the other driver.
- Take pictures: Use your phone to take pictures of any damage to your car and the scene of the accident. There may not be much to take pictures of if there wasn't a lot of damage, but it can still be helpful to have pictures for your records.
- Contact your insurance company: Whether you're at fault or not, you must notify your insurance company after a car accident and file a claim. Your insurance company will be able to walk you through the claims process.
- Look for witnesses: If there are any witnesses at the scene, make sure you get their personal information and even a picture on his cell phone.
Consult With an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you've been involved in a car accident and are wondering if you're entitled to compensation, one of the best things you can do is to meet with an experienced personal injury attorney for a free consultation.