How to Decide If You Should Report a Car Accident

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How to Decide If You Should Report a Car Accident (Photo: @axel.bueckert via Twenty20)
Amber Dowler · Feb 19, 2021
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    Anytime a car accident occurs, even a minor fender bender, it might be smart to contact the police and your insurance company. Reporting accidents to an official source can help protect you in the event of injury or dispute. In some cases, it might be okay to not report the accident, but it is always situation dependent. Read on for four tips on how to decide if you should report a car accident: check for injuries, assess the damage, consult the other driver, and report the accident if you’re in doubt.

    Tip 1: Check for injuries

    With any type of car accident, safety should always be the top priority. When a car accident occurs, everyone should immediately switch on their hazard lights and move to a safe area of the road if possible. The first step after safety is always checking for injuries.
    In the event that someone involved has sustained an injury, no matter how minor, emergency services should be contacted.
    If the accident was minor and there are no possible injuries, then you don’t need to call the police right away.

    Tip 2: Assess the damage

    Assess the damage to both parties’ vehicles to determine your plan of action. As a general rule, if the damage is estimated to be $1000 or more, then the police should be notified.
    For minor issues such as dents and scratches, it is not immediately necessary to contact the police. Move on to the next step to see what might be necessary.

    Tip 3: Consult with other driver

    Sharing information with the other driver is essential even in the most minor accidents. You should exchange your name, insurance information, addresses, and license plate numbers regardless of the damage or situation. If both parties are cooperating and the damage is minimal, then the police do not need to be called to the scene.
    If the other driver is acting aggressive or hostile, appears in any way under the influence, or fails to stop immediately following the accident then authorities should be called. Additionally, if you discover or suspect that the other driver does not have insurance coverage, then you will want to call the police.

    Tip 4: Call and report an accident when in doubt

    Accidents can leave people flustered and make it difficult to rationally process everything. If you are not sure whether or not to call, it is always better to make the call and report the accident. Once on the phone, you can fully explain what happened and get advice and guidance from a professional.
    You will also need to contact your insurance company to report the accident, even if you don’t plan on filing a claim. Your insurance agent should be a great point of contact during any accidents that you might be involved in. Your insurance company might ask you to provide specific details and photos from the accident so it’s always good to be prepared.
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