What should you do in a fender-bender?
January 8, 2020. Most drivers will be involved in a fender-bender at some point. Being in a traffic accident is stressful even if it is a minor one and knowing what to do can help.
Pull over in a safe place
If both vehicles involved can be driven, pull over to the side of the road out of the way of traffic. Make sure you will not be hit by another vehicle.
Make sure no one is injured
Assess all drivers and passengers for injury and consider going for a check-up later even if you do not think you are injured.
Write down the other driver’s information and give them yours.
- Contact information
- Insurance information
- License plate number
- Driver’s license number and expiry date
- Date of birth
- Make, model, and year of the vehicle
Write down accident details
The more information you have about the accident the better. Take detailed notes.
- Time and date
- Facts about what happened
- Description of the driver and any passengers
- Witness contact info
- Any other details
Determine the extent of the damage
Sometimes damage is not evident right away.
- Check whether your car’s engine sounds right.
- Check for smoke or other smells.
- Look for dents in the impact area and check the parts of the vehicle that are near it.
- See if the tires are still inflated.
- Look under the car for fluid leaks.
Do not try to determine who was at fault
Talk about facts only and leave determining fault to the insurance companies.
Take photos of the scene and vehicles. Make sure to take photos of damage to the vehicles, the position of the vehicles, and take photos from multiple angles. It is better to have too much information than not enough.
Do not accept payment from the other driver
If you are not at fault, a minor accident will not affect your driving record, your premium should not go up, and you will not have to pay a deductible. Do not sign any paperwork other than a police report.
File a police report if necessary
If there are injuries, damage exceeds $2000, or laws were broken, you must notify the police.
Call 911 if:
- There are injuries
- One or more of the cars involved is not drivable
- Something illegal, like impaired driving, was a factor in the accident
Report the accident at a police station if:
- There are no injuries
- The vehicles are drivable
Call your insurer
You should talk to your insurance provider to determine the best option for dealing with a fender bender. If the damage is close to what you would pay for your deductible, you can choose to pay for repairs out of pocket. Also, keep in mind that if you were not at fault your rate will probably not go up. If you do not report a fender bender and the other driver takes legal action against you in the future, you will not be covered by your car insurance. You could also have medical problems that are not immediately apparent, such as whiplash, that would not be covered if the accident went unreported.
Wait until you talk to your insurance provider to repair your car
They will have to approve the repairs and may refer you to a specific autobody shop.