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  • Car Accidents
  • Feb 16th, 2024

A Legal Guide to Minor Car Accidents

While car accidents can be intimidating and disruptive, they seem almost inevitable in today's world. If you have been in a major car accident with extensive vehicle damage and possibly even injuries, you know that there is a legal precedent to follow. But what if you are in a car accident that is a bit less dramatic?

Everyday fender-benders are far more common than the dramatic crashes that make headlines, yet many drivers seem to be wholly unprepared to face the aftermath of such an accident. Don’t let a minor wreck catch you off-guard! Find out what to do should you ever find yourself in this situation. 

Steps You Should Take After a Minor Car Accident

The most important thing to keep in mind if you are involved in a minor car accident is to remain calm. Car accidents happen and all you can do is handle the consequences responsibly. 

Check for Injuries and Seek Medical Attention

First and foremost, you should check yourself and others for injuries. If anyone is injured, call for emergency medical assistance immediately. Even if an injury seems minor, it is important that you seek medical attention. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent but could prove to be problematic in the long term. Furthermore, documentation of medical treatment can be crucial for insurance claims.

Move to a Safe Location

If it is possible and safe to do so, all parties involved should move the vehicles to the side of the road to prevent further accidents or traffic disruptions. If you are unable to move the cars, all people should leave their vehicles and move out of the road. 

Exchange Information

After any kind of accident you should exchange contact and insurance information with any other parties involved. This should include names, phone numbers, addresses, insurance company names, and policy numbers.

Document the Scene

Take pictures of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, license plates, and the surrounding area. This documentation may be useful for insurance claims or future legal action.

Contact the Police

While it may not seem strictly necessary to call the police out for a fender bender, it is always safer to have the police come out and fill out an accident report. Having a professional come out and see the damages and observe the scene can come in handy if you have to go to battle with your insurance company or with the other party. 

File an Accident Report

If law enforcement does not respond to the scene, you should file an accident report with the local police department independently. For accidents with damages exceeding $1,000 you are legally required to fill out an accident report. Even if you do not think that the damages obtained will exceed $1,000, it is still best to have the report on file. 

Notify Your Insurance Company

You should report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible, providing them with accurate details of the incident. This is crucial in any accident. 

Even if the damages seem small and inexpensive to repair, reporting accidents to your insurance company ensures that you are protected should the other party report damages to their vehicle and claim that you are responsible for paying for the repairs. Not reporting accidents can also be a violation of your policy and can lead to your policy being canceled. 

Do You Have to Call the Police After a Minor Car Accident?

Calling the police and waiting for an officer to come out and make their report can seem unnecessary and tedious in some circumstances but it is always advisable to make the call anyway. 

Washington law requires you to report an accident to the police if it involves:

  • Injury or death
  • Property damage exceeding $1,000

If the accident meets either of these criteria, you are required to report it to law enforcement. Even in cases where the damage is minor, it can be beneficial to involve the police to document the incident for insurance purposes.

Consult an Attorney

If you are involved in a minor car accident in Washington and are seeking compensation, it is advisable to consult with a personal injury attorney. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to properly assess the details of your case, evaluate potential damages, and provide guidance on negotiating a fair settlement.

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute a client relationship.
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