Do Minor Vehicle Accidents Need to Be Reported?

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nullMost of the motor vehicle accidents that occur on a normal day tend to be minor, in other words, fender benders. There may be small damages to the vehicle and very few injuries with the person(s) involved. Though what categorizes as one is debatable. It can occur when someone gets rear-ended at a low speed, another vehicle bumps another and when drivers are in a vulnerable position while driving. Examples include:

  • Drivers that don’t immediately indicate turn signals.
  • When a driver suddenly comes to a stop (ex. before a traffic light).
  • Backing out of a parking space without checking, resulting in a small collision with an oncoming car.
  • Merging onto the highway in stop-and go traffic with vehicles operating at different speeds.

Fender benders can be overwhelming and happen as a result of heavy traffic, changing speeds or sudden stops. 

Fender Bender vs. Major Car Accident

Small accidents generally have everyone walking away with minimal injuries and low damage to the car. Major accidents are drastically different, involving serious damage to the car and life-threatening injuries; the wounds sustained are normally long-term or permanent. However, car insurance companies don’t categorize accidents by either. Instead, they look at the evidence presented to determine who is at fault based on the extent of damage.

In a small accident, the vehicle can get scratched, scuffed, or dented among other costly damages.  It can happen to anyone at any time. That is why you must know exactly what to do in this situation, to file for fair compensation. Should you report the accident? Even if you have to, who should you report the accident to? These underlying questions are not a simple yes or no. Thus, we will break down all aspects of these accidents, so you know exactly what to do and what phone calls you need to make.

File an Official Report

You should report the accident, regardless of how minor it was. To do so, you call 911 to file an official report, and assess the person(s) involved with medical attention. Law enforcement will document a description of the scene, how the accident happened, location, your account and the at-fault driver’s account. In the case of an injury and damages caused, you might also want to consult with a minor vehicle accident lawyer in Newport Beach, skilled in handling a variety of car accident claims.
When calling 911, not only will the police show up if you believe there is a slight chance you or someone in the car has been hurt, the local paramedics will arrive as well. There is no need to panic when figuring out the best way to handle the situation. Respond to the officers on the scene and answer questions as calmly as possible so the officer can take a proper report. They will ask you if you or someone in your vehicle is injured and facilitate the paramedics for you. 

Outside of getting injured, it is important to know when to call the police based on damage; in some states you might be required to report the accident based on how much damage is caused, this could range from as high as $3,000+ or only a mere $1,000 in damage. In California, everyone involved must call and file a report whether it was major or minor.

Request Insurance For Minor Accidents

A primary piece of advice is to always exchange information with the other driver involved, if you are able. After talking to the other driver (or drivers) to determine all participants are safe, proceed to exchange personal and insurance information. Drivers that refuse to provide insurance information or are uncovered may require you to have the police get involved. They can easily retrieve the other driver’s information and prevent the possibility of the other driver leaving without exchanging information. In the meantime if you find yourself waiting for first responders, it is best to take down their license plate number. 

A member of law enforcement will oversee the negotiation and exchange of information. In most cases, all parties involved will be very cooperative, which opens you up to a lot of options. It also prevents you from being coerced or accidentally admitting to fault, due to the emotional impact and strain following a car accident. Now if one of the parties involved makes a false claim to insurance, for example, against the initial agreement, the officer can offer his recollection of the accident and a description of the scene. 


Reporting a minor car accident to your insurance company can feel like a hassle. Not only do you risk your insurance increasing, but you must always let your insurance know when you have been in an accident as it is required, no matter what insurance provider you might have. If you make the mistake of not alerting your insurance of what happened and instead work a private deal out with the other driver involved and they later file an insurance claim, then your own insurance might give you less or little to no coverage. It is always best to alert your insurance so they can help you get compensated.

Not reporting can also put you at risk of being liable in a single car accident without your insurance there to help. The only time that you might be able to avoid filling with your insurance company is if you are the only one affected. This would only happen if you were to have an accident with another vehicle or item that you own. For instance, damaging your second vehicle by pulling out of your driveway. You can handle the situation without alerting your insurance. 

Like a major car accident, make sure to take photos and videos of the scene. It may not look like much to report, but this is a critical step. Photographic evidence is important for insurance and legal claims. It can be of the type of car, license plate, vehicle identification number (VIN), positions of the cars, damages of interior and exterior to name a few. Pictures of visible injuries can be a precautionary measure as well, to indicate you were wearing a seatbelt before the accident. It is important to remember the correct procedures to follow when you get in an accident. Going through any type of motor vehicle accident can cause anyone to forget important details, such as:

  1. Stop your car
  2. Assess injuries
  3. Call the police
  4. Exchange information
  5. Report the accident with insurance
  6. Keep track of injuries

Many automobile accidents cause long-term injuries that do not appear at first. It is better to be prepared, and search for the right personal injury attorney Newport Beach that can handle your case for the compensation you deserve.