In 2019, vehicle crashes in the US caused an estimated 4.42 million non-fatal injuries. That’s on top of the estimated 38,800 fatalities that occurred in the same year.
After all, the US is home to almost 191 million licensed drivers. With that many motorists, the nation’s high accident rate isn’t that surprising. Worse, some of these drivers have no regard for road laws, driving drunk or overspeeding.
If you get into a minor car accident with any of these motorists, it’s vital to know what exactly to do right after. Especially if no part of the accident was your fault. Even minor fender benders can cause serious yet asymptomatic injuries.
Ready to know what happens if you are not at fault in a car accident and what to do about it? Then let’s dive right into it!
1. Check Yourself and Your Passengers for Injuries
This should be on the top of your what to do after a car accident checklist. Yes, even if you don’t feel any pain, make sure you check yourself for bleeding or bruises. Do the same to each and passenger riding with you.
Because a traumatic event, such as a car crash, will trigger your body to produce loads of adrenaline. Adrenaline, also called “epinephrine”, is the body’s “fight or flight” hormone. When this hormone floods your system, it may result in a reduced ability to sense pain.
Moreover, adrenaline temporarily increases your strength. This may give you a “fake” sense of being injure-free.
This is why you should check yourself and your passengers for any injury right after a crash.
2. Speed Dial 911 and 5-0 Even If It’s Only a Minor Car Accident
If you or anyone involved in the crash sustained more than minor injuries, call 911 right away. If you suspect severe injuries, avoid moving the person without medical professionals. Also, avoid moving your crashed car unless traffic enforcers tell you otherwise.
Calling the police to report about a crash is also one of the most important steps to take after a car accident. In fact, most states legally require this in case it resulted in injuries, property damage, or both.
In Florida, for instance, you need to let the police know of a crash with apparent vehicle damage worth at least $500. Many other states have similar laws, although the “dollar amount” threshold varies.
In any case, you should still ring up the police even if you only got into a minor fender bender. This way, a trained law enforcement officer can head right away to the scene of the accident. The officer will then protect the scene, investigate the crash, and document the facts.
The police report will serve as a valuable piece of evidence in case you’d need to file a legal claim later on.
3. Mum’s the Word
This can be hard, especially if you’re certain that you weren’t at fault for the crash. The other driver may even also play the blame game and insinuate that it’s your fault. However, do your best to contain your emotions and avoid yelling at the other driver.
The only thing you should ask the other driver is their personal and insurance details. Get their complete name, address, contact numbers, and auto insurance policy information.
4. Organize and Document Your Memory
List down whatever it is you can remember prior and during the crash. Take note of the direction you were coming from and where the driver appeared. Try to recall the color of the traffic light and the other driver’s behavior before the crash.
In fact, put into writing everything that you can recollect that has something to do with the crash. Even the smallest details, such as the other driver appearing to have slowed, are key info. You want to write down these details as soon as you can, while they’re still fresh memories.
Be sure to snap as many photos and videos of your car and that of the other driver too. Snap photos in all angles to clearly show the accident and the resulting damage. Be sure to snap a few photos of the other vehicle’s plates and entire body too.
5. Contact Your Car Insurance Company
Let your insurance company know that you’ve been in a crash. Provide them the supporting documents you have, such as the police report.
Tell them the name and badge number of the law enforcement officer who was at the scene. Be sure to give them copies of the police report and the photos and videos you took.
6. Get Yourself Checked by a Doctor
Even if you don’t have apparent injuries, you should still head to a nearby clinic to see a doctor. Many car crash injuries, such as bone and muscle injuries, have delayed symptoms. Head and traumatic brain injuries may not also show signs right away.
7. Talk To A Personal Injury Attorney
“Should I get a lawyer for a car accident that wasn’t my fault?” This is likely a question that popped right into you got into a crash.
The answer is yes, you should consider talking to a personal injury attorney, even if you live in a no-fault state. Otherwise, you may have issues dealing with a non-cooperative driver. Their insurance company may also be unwilling to work with you, and even if they do, give you an unfair payout.
A personal injury lawyer can help you from the very start of the claims process. They’ll talk to all the parties involved on your behalf, and if needed, bring the case to court. You can then focus more on your healing and recovery as they fight for your rights.
Protect Your Rights As a Prudent Driver
There you have it, your ultimate guide on what to do in a minor car accident, especially one that’s not your fault. Don’t let the other driver steer you toward thinking that it’s only a fender bender. The crash may not have resulted in severe vehicle damage, but it may have caused hidden injuries.
The best thing to do is to report it to the police, get yourself checked by a doctor, and call your insurer!
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