Is it Important to Report Minor Vehicle Damage after a Collision?

Vehicle crashes are a common occurrence on US roads. According to the latest crash statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 11 million vehicles are involved in traffic-related accidents in the United States every year. However, only a small fraction of these vehicle crashes leads to fatal injuries, while about 75 percent are non-injury accidents that result in property damage.

Should you Report the Accident to your Insurance Company?

Here are a few examples of accidents with minor vehicle damage that occur when drivers:

  • Speed in parking lots of schools, grocery stores, malls, etc.
  • Back out of driveways
  • Get distracted using their cellphones, talking to another occupant, adjusting their hair or makeup, tuning radio or listening to music, etc.
  • Fall asleep or nod off due to fatigue in rush-hour, bumper-to-bumper, or slow-moving traffic
  • Get caught in a multi-vehicle or chain reaction accident in slow-moving traffic

Most people are confused whether they should involve law enforcement or report the accident to their insurance company, especially when the at-fault driver is willing to pay for the damages on the spot. While it may seem less of a hassle to go through the lengthy process of making a claim, you are required to inform your insurer about the accident. Car insurance policies generally have a clause that requires the policy holder to report all kinds of vehicle accidents, no matter the extent of bodily harm and property damage.

Situations When Reporting the Accident is Mandatory by Law

In some cases, you are bound by the law to inform the authorities about the accident, regardless of how minor the bodily injury or property is. Report the vehicle crash, if it involves:

  • A criminal act
  • A government vehicle
  • Injury or death
  • A vehicle containing dangerous or illegal substances or goods
  • Damage to municipal, private, or public property

If you choose the easy way out and settle matters with the at-fault driver in any of the above situations, you may face legal repercussions down the line.

Why Reporting is a Good Decision?

In fender benders and other types of accidents resulting in minor cosmetic damage, the driver hits the brakes abruptly either to avoid further damage or to stop and check the dent, scrapes, and scratches. There is a high chance that your body, especially your neck and head, jolted side-to-side or forward and backward. This can result in whiplash injuries, head trauma, neck injuries, internal bleeding, cuts, lacerations, traumatic brain injury, and others, even if your car did not sustain any significant damage.

Some medical problems do not manifest right after the accident – they may take some hours, days, or even weeks to start showing their symptoms. In such a situation, if you have reported the accident to your insurance provider, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver later and recover damages.

If you are having difficulty in making a claim or proving the damages, you should consider working with an experienced auto accident attorney. Contact Tom Riley Law Firm today to schedule an appointment and discuss your case.