It’s that awful sound you hear when you pull out of a parking spot or change lanes only to find out — too late! — that another vehicle is there. 

An auto accident is never fun and not knowing what to do can make things worse. When the unexpected happens, keep these dos and don’ts in mind so you can get back on the road safely, ASAP.

What to Do After a Minor Car Accident

Stay Calm

It’s easy to fly off the handle and get angry at the other driver. But this will only escalate the situation. Keep your cool. Ask the driver about their well-being and make sure that no one in their vehicle has been injured or is in need of emergency medical attention.

Note the Other Car’s Details

Immediately check the back of the driver’s car and snap a picture of the license plate number, as well as the make and model of the car, just in case the person drives off.

Alert the Police

A police report can provide valuable information to your insurance company for any accident-related claims that are filed. For minor car accidents with no injuries, skip 911 and use the direct numbers for the local police and fire departments.

Exchange Information

The police will record details at the scene of the accident, but it’s vital you do, too. Exchange the following information with the driver of the other car:

  • Driver and passenger names
  • License plate numbers
  • Driver’s license number and state
  • Insurance information
  • Makes and models of all vehicles involved
  • Contact information of any eyewitnesses
  • Location of the accident
  • Name and badge number of responding police officers

Move your Vehicle

If the accident occurred on a busy street and your car is able to be moved, do so to help avoid a traffic jam. Your safety comes first — don’t worry about disturbing the scene of the accident. Police and insurance companies can gather a lot of information just from the damage to the cars.

Turn on Your Hazard Lights

It’s a simple step that might get overlooked in the confusion after an accident, but turning on your hazards makes it easier for other vehicles to avoid the scene and for police and an ambulance to find you, if needed. 

Take Photos of All Vehicles Involved

This will give you a record of the actual damage, in case the other driver tries to claim things were different or worse later on.

Locate Witnesses

If there were pedestrians who saw the accident or drivers who stopped, make sure you take down their names and contact information in case you need to get in touch. 

Contact Your Insurer

Contact your insurance agent as soon as you can. They will be able to help you file an auto claim and inform you of the next steps. 

Take Care of Yourself

After even a minor car accident, your adrenaline can mask your pain, or a soft-tissue injury might not be noticeable right away. Keep a journal of how you’re feeling, and visit a doctor if needed.

What Not to Do After a Minor Car Accident

Leave the Scene

Even if it’s just a minor car accident — no one is hurt and the vehicle damage is little to nonexistent — you should never leave the scene of an accident. Regardless of whether the wreck appears minor, you should still check on the other victim(s), exchange insurance information and report it to law enforcement. It’s a crime if you don’t.

Assume that Your Injuries Are Minor

And don’t assume that they’ll resolve on their own. You might not feel the full extent of your injuries for days, even weeks, after the accident, but you shouldn’t wait to seek medical treatment. 

Lose Your Cool

The first thing you should ask the other driver is, “Are you okay?” Do not yell at them or make accusations. 

Admit Fault

Even if you think the situation is your fault, you may be wrong. The police and your insurance company will decide who is to blame. You may only be partially at fault, or there may be circumstances you’re unaware of.

Remember these do’s and don’ts in the event of any traffic accident, big or small. And because you can never predict when an accident will happen, it’s important to make sure you’re adequately insured. Connect with a Farm Bureau agent to protect yourself.

Read more about what you should do if you become involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.