What to Do After a Minor Automobile Accident

Feb 14, 2024 4 min read

It happens to most of us, but it’s still heart-stopping: getting involved in a minor car accident, whether or not it’s your fault. Whether you pull out of a parking spot and right into another car, or change lanes only to discover too late that another vehicle is already there, it’s a moment that can be frustrating and frightening, even if nobody gets hurt.  

No auto accident is ever welcome, but not knowing what to do after a car accident can make things worse. Should you call your insurance company after a minor car accident? What if the car accident is not your fault? What if the accident is your fault? 

Make sure you know what steps to take after a minor car accident (and what not to do) so you can get back on the road safely. 

What to Do After a Minor Car Accident

Stay Calm 

It’s easy to lose your temper and get angry at the other driver, especially if the minor car accident isn’t your fault, but this will only escalate the situation. After any car accident, it’s important to keep your cool. Ask the driver about their well-being and make sure that no one involved has been injured or needs emergency medical attention. Keeping a clear head after a minor accident will help you make better decisions and get help more swiftly.

Document the Scene

Immediately check the back of the other 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. Even if the damage is minor, assess and document everything so you can report the situation accurately.

It’s also important to take photos after a car accident, even if it’s a small fender bender. This will give you a record of the actual property damage, which you’ll need in case the other driver tries to claim a different version of the events that occurred. Photos will help establish the facts, protecting both you and the other driver.

Alert the Police

After a minor car accident, 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 substantial damage and no injuries, skip 911 and use the direct numbers for the local police department to report the accident.

Exchange Information

The police will record details at the scene of a minor car accident, but it’s vital you do, too. No matter how small the car accident was, exchange the following information with the other driver: 

  • Name of the driver, as well as all passengers
  • Driver’s license number and state 
  • Insurance information of drivers of vehicles involved
  • Makes and models and license plate numbers of all vehicles involved 
  • Contact information of any eyewitnesses 
  • Date, time and location of the accident
  • Name and badge number of responding police officers 

Move Your Vehicle

After a minor car accident, a car can often be moved. If the accident occurs on a busy street, move your car to help avoid a traffic jam. This also helps you and your passengers to remain safe while you await help.

Turn on Your Hazard Lights

This simple step that might get overlooked in the confusion after an accident, but turning on your hazard lights, which blink repeatedly and draw attention to your car, make it easier for other vehicles to avoid the scene. Police and other emergency workers can also find you more easily if your hazard lights are on, especially at night.

Locate Witnesses

Sometimes pedestrians and other drivers witness the accident. If so, take down their names and contact information so that they can provide corroboration about the events. 

Contact Your Insurer

Should I call my insurance company after a minor accident? Yes, contact your insurance agent as soon as you can. No matter which driver was at fault, your agent will work with the other driver’s insurance company to assess the details of the accident to make sure there are no delays in processing claims you or the other party may file.  They will be able to help you file an auto claim and offer further guidance so you know what to do after the accident. 

Take Care of Yourself

After even a minor car accident, your adrenaline can mask your pain. A soft-tissue injury might not be noticeable right away. Keep careful notes on how you’re feeling over the next several days and visit a doctor if needed. 

What Not to Do After a Minor Car Accident

Don’t Leave the Scene

Even if it’s just a minor car accident with no damage and no injuries, you should never leave the scene of an accident. You should always check on the other accident participants, exchange insurance information and report the incident to law enforcement.

Don’t Assume Your Injuries Are Minor

Immediately after the accident, check for injuries and seek medical attention, even if you believe they are minor. Never assume that your injuries will resolve on their own just because they were incurred during a minor collision. You might not feel the full extent of your injuries for days, even weeks, after the accident. Do not wait to seek medical treatment. 

Don’t Lose Your Cool

The first thing you should kindly ask the other driver after an accident is whether they are okay. Do not yell at them or make accusations. This can quickly make a minor car accident worse.

Never Admit Fault

You may be convinced that you are responsible for causing the minor car accident. But even if you’re sure you’re to blame, remember that you may be wrong. You may only be partially at fault, or there may be circumstances you’re unaware of. The decision about who to blame rests with the police and your insurance company. Stick to the facts when speaking with the police, as any statements you make to officers will be put in your police report and used by insurance companies during the claim investigation. 

Let your insurance adjuster assess the car accident before rushing to admit fault. There could be facts, such as faulty breaks or an intoxicated driver, that could assist your claim. Admitting fault could mean your insurance company has to pay for damages, potentially increasing your insurance premiums. 

Don’t Be Unprepared

You can never predict when an accident will happen, so it’s important to make sure you’re adequately insured and ready in any situation. Connect with a Farm Bureau agent to protect yourself.

Want to learn more?

Contact a local FBFS agent or advisor for answers personalized to you.