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I got into a minor car accident. Now what?

  1. I got into a minor car accident. Now what?
  2. Get a police report
  3. Collect evidence yourself at the scene
  4. Get any symptoms checked out immediately
  5. Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible
  6. Zach Herschensohn: a car accident attorney ready to fight

I got into a minor car accident. Now what?

minor car accident

So, you’ve just walked away from a minor car accident.

It stinks, but it happens—a lot. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 6,756,000 police-reported traffic accidents in alone (the most recent year for which complete data is available). And that doesn’t even account for accidents that weren’t reported at all, or the fact that most crashes involve multiple drivers, and often passengers, too.

In short: almost everyone will be in a car accident at one point or another in their life. If you’re reading this blog post, you probably were just in one yourself. And while the good news is that most car accidents result in only minor injuries (or none at all), taking the appropriate steps after the incident can protect you (and your wallet) if you ultimately need to seek medical care, file an insurance claim, or file a lawsuit to get the compensation you deserve.

In this post, we’ll go over some practical tips about what to do after a minor accident (although many of the same steps apply to major accidents, too).

RELATED POST: The Washington state car accident guide: What to do if you’re involved in a crash

minor car accident

Get a police report

I got into a car accident

A police report can provide a foundational piece of evidence in any accident claim you might make with an insurance company. Plus, if your accident occurred in the State of Washington, you’re required to make an accident report with the Washington State Patrol if your crash resulted in any injuries or at least $1,000 in property damage.

Because $1,000 doesn’t go very far, and also because injuries aren’t always apparent at first, the advice here is always call the police and make a report. Better safe than sorry.

I got into a car accident

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Collect evidence yourself at the scene

I got into a car accident

People think an accident report is going to be a magic bullet that will tell an insurance adjuster (or jury) everything that they need to know. But unfortunately, that’s not really the case. After all, the police officer wasn’t actually there and must make a quick judgment based on what they are told and what they can see.

Being proactive about gathering and documenting evidence at the accident scene can go a very long way to corroborating your version of events and proving that the other driver was at fault.

Provided you can do so safely, you should, at minimum:

  • Swap insurance information with any other drivers involved in the accident, along with their names and contact information.
  • Take photographs of the accident scene, vehicle damage, skid marks on the road, any injuries you or other passengers sustained, etc. Include the make, model, and license plate number from any involved vehicles.
  • Talk to witnesses and ask for statements, or at least their contact information so that you or an attorney can follow up.
  • Avoid sharing too many personal details, and absolutely do not admit to any fault yourself (including saying an offhand “I’m sorry”). Do not let yourself get drawn into an argument with the other driver, even if you’re angry and it’s clear that they were the one responsible. Stay calm, cool, and collected, and put your own safety first.
I got into a car accident

Get any symptoms checked out immediately

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We’ve seen it time and time again. Even supposedly “minor” car accidents can lead to serious injuries, or at least serious enough to cause you to miss at least a few weeks of work and rack up at least a few thousand dollars (or more) in medical bills. For many Washington families, that’s more than enough to cause significant hardship.

One of the best ways you can protect yourself is simply getting checked out by a doctor as soon as possible after any auto accident, even a minor fender bender, if you’re feeling even the slightest bit sore.

First, if your aches aren’t just temporary but the start of chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, or other problems, you’ll want to start treatment as soon as possible. And second, by taking immediate action, you show the insurance company adjuster (who is already scheming to screw you out of any settlement) that you took your injuries seriously, and you have strong evidence in the form of medical records linking any injury or symptoms you’re experiencing to the crash.

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Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible

auto accident lawyer seattle

Yes, this might seem like overkill for a fender bender. And sometimes, when the car accident is minor enough, you might be able to handle your insurance claim on your own.

The problem is that, a day or two after your accident, you may not yet truly know how complicated or expensive your situation is going to get. And the insurance company is already working to shut you out of whatever compensation you might be entitled to.

Almost every personal injury attorney worth speaking to will offer a free consultation to discuss your legal options with you. If you don’t end up hiring an attorney, you won’t owe anything. And personal injury attorneys also generally work on contingency, meaning that even if you do hire one, you’ll never pay out of pocket and will only owe attorney fees if you win compensation.

An attorney can help you determine whether or not you have a legitimate claim to make. And if you do, they can take over from there, helping you:

  • File your claim
  • Fully investigate the car accident to establish the other party’s fault and help you compile important documents and evidence to support your claim
  • Accurately calculate the amount of compensation you’re entitled to receive, including lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
  • Negotiate with the insurance company adjuster on your behalf (and protecting you from the kinds of insurer traps and trickery they will inevitably try to pull on you)
  • Fight for your legal rights—all the way through a trial, if necessary

In other words, contacting an attorney is really a no-brainer. There’s no risk whatsoever from at least scheduling a free consultation and getting legal advice, and a huge risk if you skip it and wind up needing an attorney later.

RELATED POST: How do car accident settlements work?

auto accident lawyer seattle

Zach Herschensohn: a car accident attorney ready to fight

auto accident lawyer seattle

Attorney Zach Herschensohn understands that a car accident doesn’t have to be catastrophic to disrupt your life. For most Washington families, unexpected bills of “just” a few thousand dollars can pose significant financial hardship. That means even a minor collision can be a major headache, and if you weren’t at fault, you shouldn’t have to pay—it’s as simple as that.

While some personal injury attorneys avoid cases that don’t offer the chance at a major payout, Zach Herschensohn fights just as hard for people hurt in minor accidents as those with severe injuries and major damage. No matter who you are, or how significant your damages, you deserve the best representation when hurt by in car accident that wasn’t your fault.

To request your free consultation with our team, complete our online contact form or call our office in Kent, WA directly at (206) 588-4344.

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CONTACT HERSCHENSOHN LAW

Hurt? Let our law firm handle the details

When you request your free consultation, Kent personal injury attorney Zach Herschensohn will listen to you, answer your questions, lay out your legal options, and give you down-to-earth legal advice.

When you work with our law office, there are no obligations, hidden fees, or fine print. It’s that simple.

Request your free case evaluation

We’ll meet with you to help you understand your legal options and what to do next.

Enter your contact information:

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We’re proud to fight—and win—for injured people in Kent, Washington. View our case results to learn more.

References

National Center for Statistica and Analysis. (August 2021). Traffic Safety Facts 2019: A Compilation of Motor Vehicle Crash Data (Report No. DOT HS 813 141). Washington, DC: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813141

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as
legal advice on any subject.