It’s the end of a productive workday; you’re on your way home looking forward to some downtime. All is well in your world until, boom; you feel the thud on the back of your car. You know it’s anything but good news. Sure enough, you’ve been hit and find yourself a victim of a fender bender.
According to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, on average, there are 10 million car collisions every year. Fortunately, most of those collisions are non-fatal. While most fender benders are simply annoying and time consuming, it’s wise to follow the proper fender bender protocol to avoid a sticky situation.
Fender Bender Protocol- What you can’t forget:
- Pull over and call 911: If possible, pull out of traffic and put your hazard lights on. Even if there aren’t injuries, if substantial damage has been done it’s likely insurance companies will need to chat to determine who’s paying who. That being said, it’s a good idea to call 911 so a neutral third party is present to document the accident.
- Exchange car insurance info: If there is one thing that MUST be done, it’s this. Each insurance company needs the other’s contact information to determine who pays for the damage. If you forgot your insurance information, don’t panic. Often times, police officers will let drivers show proof of insurance at the police station within 24 hours of the incident. This may, however, still leave you susceptible to a ticket.
- Take photos, gather witnesses, or both: The more evidence you have of the accident to show the insurance companies, the better. Especially if you know you weren’t at fault and need to prove it.
- Get a police report: Obtaining a police report prevents the infamous “your word against my word” affair. When situations like this arise, it’s difficult for insurance companies to discern who pays the claim, considering they don’t evidence to dictate who was at fault.
Neglecting to get a police report allows for people to be dishonest. Deceit can take over peoples’ moral values when their insurance premiums are on the line. Keep in mind you can file a police report later (the amount of time varies by state). However, in doing so the information will not be as accurate because both cars have already left the scene.
Taking fender bender protocol seriously omits the shades of grey in what should be a black and white situation. Make sure you aren’t getting taken advantage of by calling the proper enforcement, obtaining proper documentation and exchanging the necessary information. Following these steps in fender bender protocol can turn a minor accident from disaster to nothing more than a disturbance.