If you drive a car in California, chances are you will be involved in more than one accident in your life. Thankfully, most accidents are not catastrophic. But regardless of how minor an accident might be, it can still be an intimidating experience.
You may feel anxiety and uncertainty over how you should handle the event. Many times, due to either stress or trauma, people will not know how to act in the situation.
Do I have to file a police report?
Most accidents should be reported to the police. Even if neither party appears to be injured and the damages seem minor, it is usually a good idea to have an officer to show up on the scene.
Police officers can conduct interviews of both drivers, protect the scene of the accident and record details of the case. While you may think that you don’t need the police there for minor accidents, they are a great failsafe for any potential disputes and act as a helpful resource for your next steps.
In California, you will also need to report your accident to the DMV within ten days, if anyone was injured or if the damages exceed $1,000.
Should I get my insurance involved?
After minor accidents, many people may instinctually want to settle any damages among themselves. Some do this because they fear the potential for higher premium rates as a result of their accident. However, this is not a good idea in most cases.
Almost all insurance policies require policy holders to promptly report any accidents. If you agree to work things out with the other party, you will risk putting yourself at their discretion.
For example, if you exchange money to take care of a dent in the other driver’s car, and weeks later that driver claims that they’ve suffered injuries because of the car crash, your provider may deny you coverage because you did report the incident. Additionally, you may also experience harsh penalties if your provider discovers that you never reported an incident.
Though you should report the accident to your insurer, you should also be wary when dealing with insurance claims adjustors. Many times, adjustors want to settle claims as quickly as possible and may not have your interests in mind.
Injuries cropping up a few days later
After the crash, you may not initially have felt that you suffered any injuries. However, it is not uncommon for people to notice injuries after a few days. Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash can occur even in low-speed collisions. If you are feeling any sort of pain and discomfort, you should see a doctor and be evaluated, so that you obtain timely documentation for any injuries you may have suffered.