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How to Handle a Minor Accident

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Research Last Updated: 06/21/2011

A minor car accident may seem to have only caused a small amount damage, but protect yourself from additional financial costs and possible scams by still calling 911 at the time of the accident.

Crime Scene Report

Filing a police report even for a minor accident is a good idea.

Not all accidents are destructive enough that an ambulance and a tow truck are needed to assist. Some accidents create minor damages to property and are really more of an inconvenience to deal with than anything else.

But, if no rescue teams are needed what is a good way in how to handle a minor car accident?

Assess Any Minor Accident Damage

With any car accident, no matter how minor, always check to see if anyone is injured. Attend to any injuries first and then check the damages that were caused from the accident. In this case you are looking to make sure that you are still able to drive your vehicle away from the scene of the accident legally and do not need a tow truck.

Keep in mind that while the damages done by a car accident may seem minor, sometimes there are underlying things that you cannot see. These damages, such as broken brackets and damage to the frame of the vehicle, are usually only found by a mechanic while they are fixing the visible damages.

In the case of an injury, the adrenaline surge and swelling that happens after an accident covers up any injury that may have happened. These injuries can remain hidden for 48 to 72 hours after the accident and need to be treated when they appear.

So never assume the damages are only minor until they can be assessed later.

Call the Authorities for a Minor Accident

No matter how minor the accident may seem it is best to call 911 for assistance, especially if you are not at fault. Calling 911 and having a police officer come out will provide you with an official record of the accident in the form of a police report. This will prevent anyone from being able to change their story later on down the road.

A police report also gives you a more accurate record of the other party’s personal information so that you can contact their insurance company if needed. People are less likely to give false information to a police officer than they are to a regular person.

Never Agree to Pay for Minor Accident Damages Out of Pocket

If the minor accident is your fault, never agree to pay out of pocket for damages just to keep the insurance company out of it, even if the damages seem minor. As said before there can be underlying property damages that you cannot see or injuries that may present later. Also unscrupulous people can take advantage of the situation by providing you with a bill for the repairs of what they claim were damages from the accident, when the bill actually includes old damages that you did not cause.

Fake injuries are also a possibility in the form of “soft tissue” injuries. These injuries are hard to document and are usually based on the injured person claiming pain in a certain area. This is not to say that they are not real injuries, they are just a type of injury that is frequently claimed by those seeking to take monetary advantage of a situation.

To protect yourself, have a police report filed and report it to your insurance company. Let the insurance company handle it as they know what they are doing and what type of injuries and property damage should occur with the type of accident that you had. Also if the person still tries to pull a scam, they can at least be charged with insurance fraud at this point.

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Michele Wilmonen

Michele's first introduction to insurance was working for a major insurance company as a file clerk and a mailroom supervisor in a regional office. She learned insurance directly from underwriters and claims adjusters from questions and also watching them do their job. Since then, she's earned a number of insurance certifications from the Insurance Institute of America and also a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Idaho. She blogs at Car Insurance Guidebook.

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