What’s the first thing you should after a fender bender? Read on to find out everything your need to know!
Getting into a car accident of any kind may seem like something that would never happen to you. But with 1.7 million rear-end collisions taking place in the US every year, fender benders are much more common than you’d think. While fender benders are minor accidents, when they aren’t properly addressed, they can lead to major problems.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about fender benders, what to do if you get into a fender bender in Texas, and why insurance is so important to have in these situations.
What is a fender bender, exactly?
With so many fender benders happening yearly, you may wonder what a fender bender even is. Simply put, fender benders are low-speed collisions that don’t result in serious injuries and leave your car in a drivable condition. Because of the lack of immediate damage and bodily injury, they are considered minor auto accidents.
Common examples of fender benders include:
- Hitting a car or getting hit while backing out of a parking space
- Rolling into the car in front of you in slow-moving traffic
- Getting hit while pulling out into the flow of traffic
- Rear-ending someone or getting rear-ended at a stop sign
- Hitting the side mirror of a parked car
If this list is making you think about some close calls you’ve had when you were distracted
, you aren’t alone. Thinking you have enough time to take a quick glance at your phone, grab those bonus fries from your take-out bag, or sing along to that song you haven’t heard in forever can make paying attention a low priority. In fact, 87% of rear-end collisions occur due to distracted driving
, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Make sure to practice vigilant, defensive driving
while in your car, and avoid wireless communication while on the road unless it is an emergency.
Remain at the scene
Even if you have no personal injuries or don’t think the accident is worth the hassle, remain at the scene of the accident. By Texas law, you are required to stop at the scene of an accident whether or not it was your fault or if there is significant damage. Even if you are the victim, you can be fined for leaving the scene, and your actions can be seen as fleeing the scene, and hit and runs
are a crime in Texas.
Check for injuries
While minor injuries are common with smaller collisions, that isn’t always the case. If you are in your vehicle at the time of the accident, check yourself and any passengers or pets for injuries. Though you may feel fine at the moment, monitor yourself and others for signs and symptoms of injuries that may appear hours or days after the crash. Whiplash, for instance, is a common injury that may arise later but can take days or weeks to recover from. Don’t delay in receiving medical care after your accident.
Call 911 for emergency services to come to the scene ASAP if you or someone else is injured.
Move to safety
If you are in the way of traffic and it is safe to do so, move your motor vehicle to the side of the road and put on your hazard lights. If you have additional road safety supplies, such as warning flags, you may find it helpful to use them if it’s safe to do so.
Exchange information with all parties
Once you are sure you do not need medical attention and are safe, you can exit your vehicle to gather information from the other driver. You’ll want to get their name and phone number along with their driver’s license number, registration, insurance information, and policy number. If you can, take pictures of license plate numbers, IDs, and insurance cards to ensure you don’t lose them after leaving the scene.
Watch what you say
While it may sound dramatic, you must stay calm and resort to speaking only facts when talking to other parties involved in the fender bender. You may instinctively want to apologize but doing can be considered an admission of guilt. And even if the other motorist seems like they want to brush off the accident, you’ll still need to report it. You don’t want to be in a situation where you leave the scene only to find that a report has been filed later without your description of events because a stranger didn’t keep their word.
Photograph the scene
Whether or not you call the police, take pictures of the accident with your cell phone for objective evidence.
You should take photos of both vehicles, focusing on the damaged areas, along with license plate numbers and the cause of the crash, if possible. If you, any passengers, or the other parties have injuries, taking pictures of them is also a good idea. Gathering evidence will allow you to be prepared should any medical or legal actions need to take place after the accident.
Call your insurance company
You’ll want to make sure you call your insurance provider as soon as you can after the incident, no matter who is at fault. Even if your fender bender does not include another person but property damage instead, it's still important to call. If you don’t report the incident at all, you may face delayed compensation for repairs or medical expenses or see a denial of claims altogether.
The claims process for your incident will depend on the conclusion the insurance adjusters
come to. If the other party is at fault, you will use the insurance information you gathered to make an insurance claim through their insurance provider. Likewise, they will make an insurance claim through your insurance provider if you are at fault. If you are both at fault or no one is at fault, you will go through your own insurance, and the other party will use theirs.
If there are damages in the crash and you are at fault, or no one is at fault, your insurance company will coordinate repairs with you by recommending a repair shop, or you can select your own. If you are at fault for the incident, you’ll pay the insurance deductible
listed in your policy then your insurer covers the rest of the repairs or covers up until the limits in your policy. If the damages are very minor and under your deductible, then you may end up paying out of pocket.
You may find yourself in a situation where you or the other driver in the accident does not have an insurance provider. Because nearly 20% of Texas drivers don’t have auto insurance, there’s a 1-in-5 chance this could happen. In this case, call the police right away.
Without auto insurance
, a motorist can face repair costs ranging from $300 to over $6000
, a hefty sum to pay out of pocket. If medical treatment is needed at the scene or after the accident, additional medical bills can also be a hefty fee. The ability to make a car accident claim or injury claim can be a financial saver, so find a car insurance policy that meets your needs before a vehicle accident happens.
Call the police
If no one is injured and there are only scratches on the vehicles, you may find that law enforcement is not needed. However, a police officer can provide an objective report
of events that may be crucial for accidents with injuries or vehicle damage. This can help with any fraudulent reporting that may occur after the accident. While reporting the incident, remember to only state facts and ask for a copy of the accident report afterward. Note that getting a police report will not give either party more benefits when insurance adjusters review the case. They will determine fault financially using objective information or even find both parties at fault.
If the at-fault party leaves the scene without contacting the police or exchanging information, this is considered a hit and run. If you are the victim of a hit and run
, it's also important to call the police as soon as it is safe to do so.
Know your premiums could change
If you’re not the at-fault party, then a fender bender most likely won't cause you to see a change in your car insurance premiums. However, if you are found at fault for the incident, it’s possible that when it’s time to renew your insurance policy, you’ll see an increase. Talk to your insurance agent about your options if this happens. Adjusting your deductible or even taking a defensive driving course
may help reduce the rise in the future depending on the options your carrier makes available to you. Lastly, make sure you speak to your agent or insurance carrier about possible auto insurance discounts
that could help mitigate a potential increase.
Getting into a fender bender can be scary and overwhelming. But if you remain calm and do as many of the suggested actions as possible, you’ll navigate the situation successfully.
At Germania, it's our mission to provide top-quality auto insurance for Texans. To learn more about our insurance products and services, request a free quote online or reach out to your local Germania Authorized Agent today!