If you’ve ever found yourself involved in a minor car accident, you know that it doesn’t necessarily feel so minor. Especially to your car or your wallet. But, a minor car accident doesn’t have to necessarily cost you a bundle, as long as to follow the proper protocol. As someone who’s been in more than her fair share of car accidents, I’ve got an inside line on how to get your car fixed and keep more money in your pocket. If you follow these steps, you should be good to get back on the road for little to no money out of pocket.
#1 Stay Put
Any time a car accident occurs, you should stop your car where the accident happened. This is true as long as it is safe to do so. If your car is blocking the flow of traffic it could be a major risk to other motorists. Since stopping at the scene of the accident is actually required by law, this practice should be followed whenever possible.
And keeping your vehicle in the exact position it landed in due to the accident makes recording the accident easier.
#2 Injury Assessment
Once you have exited your vehicle, begin performing an injury assessment on yourself and any other passengers in the car. In most cases, minor car accidents don’t result in many injuries, but you should never assume that you don’t have any. After an accident, it is normal for your adrenaline to be pumping and for you to not notice that you’re hurting. In fact, I’ve had quite a few spinal injuries from minor car accidents that I didn’t feel until the following day or two.
The things I typically check for after a minor car accident are:
- Minor cuts or scrapes
- Neck pain
- Changes in vision
- Changes in hearing
- Pain or tingling in the legs, arms, and/or chest
If you have any of these, then your accident may not be as minor as you thought. You should immediately call 911 and ask for medical assistance.
#3 Contact Information Swap
After the first 2 steps have been completed, it’s time to swap contact information with the other parties involved in the accident. I’ve found that sometimes this can be easier said than done. Typically the times that have been more difficult to get information out of the other driver was when the driver was uninsured.
No matter what, it’s best you can to get all of the contact information possible and write it down in a secure place.
I recommend recording the following information about the other driver:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Email address (whenever possible)
- Car Insurance company
- Policy number
- Driver’s license number and expiration date
- Make, model, and year of their vehicle
I like to take a picture of the other driver’s license and insurance card, whenever possible. This way I ensure the information I have is correct.
#4 Take pictures
While I’m doing that, I take pictures of all cars involved and the damages for my own records. The things I do my best to make sure I include are:
- My car
- Specific damage to my car
- The other driver’s car
- Specific damage to the other driver’s car
- The surrounding area
- Witnesses near the accident
- The positions of both cars
- Any stoplights, stop signs, or traffic nearby
- The weather conditions
All of these things can come be very helpful for both the police report and when dealing with the insurance companies.
And speaking of the police, now is the time to call them to get them dispatched to the scene. By calling the police, you are ensuring that there is a record of the accident on file. Plus the scene of the accident can be better secured. By having this documentation, it makes the insurance process much easier. And by doing so, you have a much better chance of getting the repairs needed to your car in a more expedient manner.
Where I live, we are in an at-fault state, which means that every car accident has a party at-fault. If you aren’t the at-fault party, then the other person’s insurance has to cover the cost of all repairs. However, if you don’t file a report with the police in an at-fault state, your insurance will have to foot the bill.
#6 Call insurance company
And speaking of insurance, it’s extremely important to report all accidents to them. In a lot of cases, if you don’t report the accident to your insurance company, they will automatically you are the at fault party and will therefore become responsible for all damages.
Personally, I like to call my insurance agent directly whenever I’m involved in an accident. This is the easiest and most direct way to get the ball rolling. Plus, my agent gives me advice as to whether or not he feels I should be filing a claim in the first place.
Since this is one of the things I pay my agent for, I always greatly appreciate the insight and assistance. If you have a relationship with a trusted insurance agent, I highly recommend giving them a call before you call your provider’s general claims line.
#7 Talk to witnesses
Lastly, whenever possible, it’s great to speak to anyone who may have witnessed the car accident. Witnesses can be extremely helpful when it comes to piecing the accident back together. So do your best to get a statement from everyone who saw the accident happen. When you do, it’s best to collect the following information from them:
- Full Name
- Contact Information
- What they were doing at the time of the accident
- Where they were in the relation to the accident
- What they saw
These statements could be written or recorded on your phone, but should always be given to the police when they arrive for documentation.
Minor car Accident Summary
Overall, getting into a car accident of any magnitude isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. But, if you follow these basic steps that are laid out, it can really help. Streamlining the process and making sure your car and yourself are taken care of are the most important parts.
If you’ve ever found yourself in a minor car accident, what steps did you take to help move the process along and keep more money in your pocket?