After getting involved in a minor car accident, you may be relieved that the injuries and vehicle damage were not serious or even nonexistent. However, your next step is to report the fender bender to the authorities and your insurance company. Although you may be hesitant to do so – in fear that your rates will increase – it is required that all accidents resulting in injury or property damage be reported.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are one of the most common causes of death for Americans. More than 2 million people were treated in emergency rooms for motor vehicle accident-related injuries in 2009. Thankfully, thousands of car accidents are minor and require little, if any, medical treatment. Here are the steps to take after getting into a minor fender bender.
Steps to Take After a Minor Car Accident
As you would with any fender bender, you should move off to the side of the road, if possible, and exit the vehicle. Ensure that passengers and other parties are unhurt. If they are hurt, call for medical attention. You then should get the other party’s contact information, as well as insurance information and vehicle description, including the license plate number.
Next, take note of any weather conditions or road conditions that may have attributed to the fender bender. The police also should be called to file a report, especially if there is disagreement about what happened. A police officer can investigate the scene and determine liability.
If you are accident-prone and fear your insurance company will cancel your policy, then you may be tempted not to report the accident. But even minor car accidents should be reported. According to Colorado Statutes §42-4-1606, drivers involved in an accident that result in injury or property damage must notify the authorities immediately. Remember, injuries can appear later on and if the accident is not reported, it can be more difficult to obtain compensation for medical expenses.
You also will need to secure evidence at the scene, so grab a camera and take some photos of the vehicle damage (of both cars), any injuries and the area where the minor car accident occurred, including road hazards. Make sure not to leave the accident scene until you have received all the information you need and the police officer allows you to leave. Otherwise, you could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident, which carries legal consequences even in the case of a fender bender.
Do I need a lawyer?
Most lawyers will not handle minor car accidents because they do not involve significant damages and can be pretty straightforward. Without extensive injuries and vehicle damage present, having a lawyer review your case and take it to court may be a waste of your time and money. Submitting medical bills and repair receipts can give you a pretty good idea of the damages you can recover. In a minor accident, long-term consequences or emotional trauma usually do not have to be accounted for.
If you are in an accident and would like to discuss your case, contact the Law Office of D.J. Banovitz in Denver at (303) 300-5060 to set up a consultation. If your accident is more serious than a fender bender, legal representation may prove helpful.