Fender benders are undoubtedly more anxiety-inducing than other “minor” nuisances in life. Car accidents, no matter the damage, are downright scary. Even if no one is injured, it’s critical to know what to do in the event of a minor car accident. Questions arise, such as: What information is needed from the other driver? Does anyone, driver or passengers, need to go to the emergency room to treat their injuries? Should the police be called? Does anyone need a tow truck? While every situation is different, here’s a list of what to do if involved in a minor car accident.
The first thing every driver involved in any car accident should do is stop the vehicle. Don’t block traffic if it’s avoidable, though. If all vehicles involved are moveable, get them off of the road and to safety. Put the hazard lights on any car remaining in the street while waiting for the tow truck.
Important: Do not leave the scene of the accident. In Washington State, it is illegal to leave the scene of a car accident without stopping or notifying the other vehicle’s owner of the affected property.
Once every person is out of harm’s way, make sure that someone calls the non-emergency number of the Tacoma Police Department. Report the accident to the dispatcher. If someone is injured, however, make sure to call 911 instead of the non-emergency line. In some cases, the police will only file an official report if someone is injured. However, in any case, the Tacoma police officers act as a neutral third party in the event of a minor car accident. Additionally, the Tacoma PD may be able to provide a report that will help with insurance claims.
While waiting for the police or other emergency personnel to arrive on the scene of the accident, make sure to take photos of the damage on all vehicles involved. Additionally, make sure to take pictures and videos of where the accident took place. These pictures and videos will prove useful when making insurance claims as weather, time of day, and traffic conditions all affect how claims are processed. If there are any witnesses to the accident, make sure to get their information.
Exchange contact information with all other drivers and witnesses involved in the crash. Make sure to write down their insurance and vehicle information as well, including the vehicle’s VIN. All of this information is critical when filing insurance claims and protecting oneself against allegations of fault.
After all of the drivers involved in the accident have exchanged information, make sure that the insurance company is contacted. The insurance agent should go over options and give instructions on what the next steps are as far as filing a claim for the vehicle. If the car needs towing, the insurance agent should be able to help direct drivers to approved towing companies and auto repair shops in the area.
Hopefully, no one involved in the accident needs medical attention. However, here are a few tips on how to decipher how emergent any medical issues are and whether or not the person should go to an urgent care center or emergency room.
Go to the emergency room if breathing causes pain or is difficult. Emergency room physicians have experience treating trauma-related injuries and can decipher whether any breathing issues are the result of a severe or a minor injury from the accident.
While low-speed car accidents without significant damage to the vehicle may seem minor, they aren’t necessarily injury-free. Even if the airbags don’t deploy, drivers and passengers may sustain neck, spine, or head injuries. These types of injuries can include concussions and herniated disks in the spine. Keep in mind that adrenaline and other physiological processes can interfere with the body’s ability to feel pain. If anyone feels a significant amount of pain after the accident, even if they didn’t think they needed to go to the doctor earlier, they should have their injuries checked out by a medical professional.
It’s best to go to an emergency room if the injury causes moderate to severe pain in the head or neck. Head and neck injuries are notoriously unpredictable. For more minor aches and pains, consider visiting an urgent care facility that accepts walk-ins and has an imaging center, just in case. In any case, it’s best to get head and neck injuries checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible.
Sometimes even minor car accidents result in an open wound for either a driver or passenger. Make sure to address open wounds and cuts immediately, as infectious diseases transfer from one person to another through bodily fluids. Visible major bleeding is a clear indication that the person should go to the emergency room. However, for minor cuts and scrapes, an urgent care facility is the more appropriate venue.
Minor wounds and simple fractures don’t necessarily require an emergency room visit. However, be sure to inquire about whether the urgent care facility has an on-site imaging lab for suspected fractures. The first step in treatment for fractures or sprains is an X-ray to rule out other injuries, and this will be much easier if the facility has an imaging lab on-site.
Even if everyone feels fine after an accident, it may make everyone feel even better to schedule an appointment with a primary care provider to assess any post-collision worries.
Fife Service & Towing is a fourth-generation towing and service company in Tacoma, Washington. We provide residential and commercial towing services to residents and business owners all over the Tacoma and Seattle metro area. No matter the issue, we are here to help with 24/7 dispatch and emergency roadside services. If you’re involved in a car accident, minor or significant, call Fife Service & Towing to speak to a dispatcher now!