Every day, dozens of Georgia drivers become involved in minor, low-speed collisions that may cause a little damage to their vehicles, but no apparent injuries to drivers or passengers. Often, drivers decide to work out an agreement with each other without involving their insurance companies. As Property Casualty 360 magazine put it, “you’re not legally required to tell your insurer about every ding and dent.” But, the magazine goes on to warn, you need to pay careful attention to your arrangement so that everyone involved is satisfied.
“Should you report that fender bender [to your insurer]?” asked Consumer Reports magazine, noting that “Fear of an insurance rate hike is often the concern behind that question.” The respected consumer group recommends that if your vehicle crash, no matter how minor, involves another vehicle, you should “always report it, especially if you may have been at fault, because your coverage also protects you against liability for harming others.” It’s always a good idea to document the facts, and your policy may require that you report the incident within a certain period of time in order to preserve coverage. As a personal injury claim could show up as much as two years after the incident, or even more, failure to report the incident within the required time may leave you without liability protection.
You should also remember that sometimes after a fender bender, or even a more significant crash, there might seem not to be any immediate injury because emotional stress and adrenaline can hide the symptoms. Soft-tissue damage, such as whiplash injuries, may not become evident for hours, or even for a few days.
Some common-sense tips:
- Exchange insurance information at the scene of the accident in any case. That way, you have the information in case the other driver doesn’t return your calls, or you decide to make an insurance claim after all.
- If the other driver is at fault, it is going to be to your advantage to have a police report reflecting that fact and capturing the information of any witnesses. You may not think it matters, but if you discover an injury a day or two after the crash, you will be glad you have the report.
- If the accident is your fault, get a mechanic’s estimate for repairs to your car before deciding to pay out of pocket, and insist on an estimate from a reputable shop before paying anything for the other driver’s car.
- Don’t pay for repairs to either car that cost more than the car is worth.
- Beware of the driver who insists you take your car to a certain repair shop, or wants to tinker with it on his or her own.
- Don’t accept cash before getting an estimate.
- Even in cases where you received just a minor injury , e.g. a cut or a bruise, notify your insurance company. Consult an experienced personal injury attorney to see if you should file a claim. You will need an attorney to help you get full compensation.
Ken Crosson is the owner and lead attorney of the Crosson Law Group, a personal injury and business litigation law firm in Marietta, Georgia, serving the entire Atlanta metropolitan area and surrounding counties. The Crosson Law Group team is ready to help you and your family recover when you have suffered a serious injury. Call (678) 909-0770 or contact us via email today to schedule a free case evaluation.