Fender bender accidents happen all the time, but do insurance companies truly consider them car accidents? To sum it up, yes. Any time one car collides with another, it constitutes an accident. There is no minimum amount of damage, speed, or force of impact that has to happen for a fender bender to be a crash.
A fender bender counts as a crash even if it doesn’t cause any property damage, as collisions that don’t cause property damage are still accidents. An accident that barely scratches your bumper can still cause severe injuries to drivers and passengers. If you got into a fender bender accident, you might have the right to receive compensation if you suffered injuries - regardless of the damage to your vehicle.
It’s essential to treat a fender bender like any other accident for several reasons. With the new technology in cars steadily increasing, even a seemingly minor fender bender can lead to costly repairs. Likewise, injuries occasionally take a while to emerge, leading to unforeseen claims. These are situations when you should take pictures, document evidence, and exchange names and insurance details with the other driver(s) involved in a fender bender.
Following a fender bender, never hesitate to consult with a car accident lawyer about a possible claim. Never assume your accident was too minor to schedule a free case evaluation.
Fender Bender FAQ
You have probably heard “fender bender” tossed around in casual conversation. You might have even gotten into a fender bender - but what exactly qualifies a fender bender? Fender bender does not have a legal definition or any strict parameters for what type of accident falls into this category.
Fender bender describes a minor collision or crash between two vehicles. It can be a rear-end collision, a parking lot accident, or another seemingly minor collision while driving.
The common use of the term fender bender is ambiguous and subjective. It often describes a minor accident, but what counts as a minor accident might feel like a major accident to someone else.
What Causes a Fender Bender Accident?
Many different events can contribute to a fender bender accident. For instance, a fender bender is common if a driver follows too closely through a community and the driver in front of them needs to brake suddenly.
Another typical scenario for fender benders involves a car backing out of a parking space and getting hit by another driver that fails to see them. Further, inattentive motorists may unintentionally strike parked cars in various circumstances.
Regardless of how the accident occurred, drivers should know how to manage these mishaps and collect adequate evidence to reinforce their claims. Even if damage initially appears insignificant and no one seems to have sustained injuries at the time of the accident, fender bender accident victims cannot always determine the total extent of property damage or injuries until some time passes. This is why people must take steps to protect their rights directly after fender bender accidents.
Do I Need to Call the Police for a Fender Bender?
The answer to this question depends on the damage to property and any resulting injuries. Some drivers think that a fender bender doesn’t require police involvement and that the two drivers can resolve the accident. However, that can often hurt your car accident case. It is beneficial to call the police if you’ve been in a fender bender accident - and the law may require it.
What Is the Difference Between Reporting an Accident and Calling the Police?
You can usually file a police report for an accident by calling the police to the scene or contacting law enforcement after the accident to report what happened. Which option you should choose depends on your state’s laws and how much damage the fender bender caused. If you suffered injuries, you should always call the police right after the crash happens.
You should certainly call the police after any crash that results in death, injury, or property damage. Even if your car does not have damage, call the police if anyone feels pain or discomfort after a fender bender, as it can signify a crash-related injury.
Although a fender bender may not always cause property damage or injury, it’s still a good idea to call the police after an accident. You can usually only see damage to the exterior of a vehicle. Still, you might not realize that a fender bender caused mechanical issues under your hood or in the exhaust system. Most importantly, calling the police to a crash scene creates a record of the accident, which is useful if legal issues arise.
Failure to report an accident can impact a future car accident lawsuit and the amount of compensation you can receive.
Should I Notify My Insurance Company of a Fender Bender?
It is common to feel anxiety about contacting an insurance company after a car accident. You might feel that doing so will cause your insurance premiums to go up, or the insurer will refuse to renew your policy. However, your insurance premium will not go up simply because you reported an accident. Your insurance rate should only change if you were at fault for accidents and injuries.
Your relationship with your insurer relies on a coverage contract known as an insurance policy. Under the contract, many insurers require that policyholders report all accidents within a certain time, regardless of the severity or fault. Insurance companies consider fender benders as accidents and require you to report them.
Suppose you don’t report an accident to your insurer - you might not get coverage under your personal injury protection (PIP) policy or uninsured motorist (UM) policy if you try to seek compensation for your injuries and other expenses. Furthermore, you risk losing future coverage for violation of your policy agreement.
Though you should report the fender bender, you want the report to come from a car accident lawyer. There is always the chance you might say the wrong thing, which can jeopardize future coverage should you need it.
Avoid Admitting Fault
Typically, it’s best not to say too much when talking to the other motorist after a wreck. Even apologizing when you weren’t at fault can direct the other driver or insurers to argue that you were. Rather, talk specifically to the police and stay both factual and genuine when relaying the details of the accident.
What Injuries Are Common in a Fender Bender?
Even if a fender bender didn’t cause serious damage to your vehicle, it can still cause severe injuries that significantly impact your life and health. Neck, spinal, shoulder, and soft tissue injuries (often referred to as whiplash) are common after fender bender collisions. These injuries can cause an accident victim to suffer significant pain and discomfort. In some cases, it might take months or years for these injuries to heal, and some victims may feel the impacts of their injuries for the rest of their lives.
Fender bender victims can incur costly medical bills for treatments or therapy for their injuries. Injuries can also lead to missed days of work or limit the ability to work full time, which takes a large toll on income. Keep track of all the financial losses you experience due to a fender bender.
Who Is at Fault in a Fender Bender?
Although the fender bender may not cause serious injuries, you still want to resolve who is at fault for liability and insurance coverage purposes. Fault in a fender bender will depend on the circumstances of the accident, and many fender benders include rear-end collisions and parking lot accidents.
In most rear-end fender benders, the driver of the rear car is responsible for failing to brake in time to avoid a crash with the driver in front. Driver distraction often plays a part in these accidents. A driver might lose focus for a moment after looking at their phone and fail to realize that the car in front of them slowed or stopped. They do not have time to react before the front of their car hits the back of the other vehicle’s bumper.
There are some exceptions to rear driver liability. Occasionally, a chain reaction leads to a rear-end fender bender, where one vehicle gets pushed into another vehicle ahead. In those cases, the driver pushed by the original impact is not necessarily responsible for colliding with the next vehicle in line.
Parking Lot Accidents
Fault in parking lot crashes can be difficult to discern. Parking lots often feature non-existent traffic patterns and limited visibility. To resolve who is at fault for a parking lot fender bender, it is best to consult with a lawyer who can interview witnesses, review security footage, and make inferences about why the drivers collided.
Can You Get Compensation After a Fender Bender Accident?
Victims of a fender bender occasionally hesitate to seek compensation for their damages. They wonder if such a “little” accident needs an attorney’s attention.
You should seek compensation when a fender bender causes injuries. The law allows all accident victims, including victims of fender benders, to seek compensation when they suffer injuries and losses because of someone else’s negligent conduct.
In a legal claim for damages, fender bender crash victims may receive payment for:
- The expenses of medical care for their injuries.
- Other out-of-pocket costs they incurred because of the crash and their injuries, such as the cost of fixing vehicle dents and scratches or of paying for a rental car.
- The earnings and income they lost because their injuries kept them out of work.
- Their pain, suffering, and other life difficulties arising from accidents and injuries.
These damages can add up to a potentially substantial amount of cash, even in a fender bender case. Never think that you do not have legal rights merely because someone called your accident “minor.” What’s minor to other individuals may feel significant to you, and you deserve payment for any harm you suffered.
What Should I Do After a Fender Bender?
If you suffered injuries in a fender bender that was partially the other driver’s fault, you might have helpful legal privileges for compensation. Taking the next steps after a fender bender can help you shield your legal and financial rights.
Seek Medical Care
If you have any observable injuries or feel discomfort and pain after a fender bender, seek medical attention instantly. Even if you do not believe you suffered harm, get a check-up within one day to make certain. Some potentially severe injuries do not show signs instantly.
Failure to seek medical attention when injured can make your situation worse. It can also dilute your legal rights to obtain compensation. On the other hand, seeing a medical professional right away creates records of your injuries that you can use as proof in your insurance claim.
Follow Through With Medical Treatment
Follow the treatment plan for any injuries your physicians diagnose. If you do not observe your medical team’s orders, you risk holdups in your recovery or perhaps enduring harm to your health in the future. You also put your legal privileges at risk by opening yourself up to statements that you did not take care of yourself and that you should not receive payment.
Get an Estimate for Damage to Your Car
When getting ready to pursue repairs for your car, start by asking for an estimate for the damage. A local auto body shop can give you an accurate appraisal. Insurance adjusters may also look at the damage and make an assessment themselves.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a fender bender, the wisest thing you can do is contact a car accident lawyer for a free consultation to learn more about your legal rights and options. An attorney can advise you whether you need to file an insurance claim. If so, they will handle the entire process for you.
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