KELLUM LAW FIRM – NEWS & RESOURCES
6 Good Reasons To Report A Minor Car Accident or Fender Bender.
You are crawling along in stop and go traffic when someone rear ends you or you rear end them. You both pull over and get out of your cars to assess the damage. Your car appears only to have a few minor scratches and their car appears to have no visible damage whatsoever.
You are both happy that no one was hurt and that there was very little apparent damage to either vehicle. You discuss your options. Nothing seems to be wrong so why bother the police and why report it to your respective insurance companies? You don’t want your insurance company to raise your rates, right?
Sounds logical, but is it? The short answer is no.
1 – Legal Grounds For Reporting Any Accident Involving (minor) Damage To Property And/Or Persons
Many states legally require that you report an accident, particularly if there is an injury to any party involved. Many states also require you to report the accident if the damage to property is over a certain dollar amount. For example, North Carolina requires you to report an accident to the police if the damage incurred exceeds $1000.
2 – Reneging On Agreements Made At The Accident Scene
The other person in your case seems like a nice person, you can’t see much damage to either vehicle so why not agree between you to just pay for it yourselves. You make a deal with the other driver not to report it but a few days later the other driver decides it was your fault.
Without a police report it is now your word against theirs. They then tell their insurance company that it was your fault, and suddenly you wish you had a police accident report to corroborate your version of events.
The insurance rate hike you were trying to avoid now seems small compared to the legal bill involved in unraveling the mess.
3 – Delay In The Appearance Of Crash Related Injuries
Once the post- accident adrenaline has worn off one or both of you realize you have been injured. Whiplash can often take over 24 hours or more to appear, as can certain types of back, knee and other injuries. Or it could be a mental or emotional reaction to the accident that causes someone to rethink their position.
Again, you’re left wishing you had a police accident report to help present your version of the events.
4 – Accident Reported By A Witness
With just about everyone carrying a cellphone these days it’s not unusual for even minor car accidents to be reported by uninvolved bystanders. You’ve made a verbal agreement with the other driver not to involve the police, but then an officer knocks at your door that evening asking about your involvement in an auto crash earlier that day. What now?
5 – You’re Obligated To Report Any Car Accident Under The Terms Of Your Insurance Policy
What about your respective insurance companies? Why report it to them? Again, it is usually the fear of a rate hike that keeps people from filing insurance claims.
Your insurance policy terms will offer protection to you against your financial liability stemming from an accident, but only if you report it to them within the time-frame specified within the policy, which can be as low as 30 days.
So you made a deal with a complete stranger who may or may not have been injured following the accident, and then the person takes their car to the body shop and gets an estimate for a $1500 repair, thus setting the ball rolling through his insurance company to go after you as the responsible party.
If only you had reported it to your insurance company in time.
6 – Delay In The Appearance Of Crash Related Damage To Vehicles
You’re at the scene looking at your car and you don’t see any damage other than some basic bumper scuffs. No damage, no claim, right? But how can you be certain there’s no damage? Most modern bumpers are designed to absorb impacts up to around 5 mph without transferring the affects of the impact to the rest of the vehicle. But it’s not uncommon for low speed impacts to cause things like leaks, damage to your battery and wheel alignment issues which may go unnoticed at the scene of the accident. Also, while there may be no outward appearance of damage, your impact absorbers may need to be replaced.
So there are enough good reasons to report minor car accidents to the police and then to notify your insurance company, and very few good reasons not to. Every insurance company has a stipulation requiring policy holders to immediately report an accident. Failing to report the accident can cause you problems in the future.
If you need help unravelling the mess after failing to report a car accident through the correct channels, contact Kellum Law Firm today and speak with one of our experienced car accident lawyers.
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OUR ADVICE TO YOU:
It’s often the case that the outcome of an accident or injury claim can hinge on the smallest of details. While it may seem appealing to try to handle a case on your own, it’s rare that acting independently of a lawyer will yield the best results for the plaintiff. Therefore, whilst we encourage you to read the useful articles at our website, we strongly recommend that you seek sound legal advice before attempting to deal with any type of accident or injury claim on your own.