How to Deal With a Minor Car Accident

Two Methods:Sample DocumentsDealing with a Minor Car Accident

You're pulling out of a spot or changing lanes and crunch! — another vehicle is suddenly there and you're in the middle of a minor car accident. Fortunately, nobody's hurt, and the cars aren't totaled, but some damage has been done, and repairs will be needed. If you've never been in a car accident before, you may not know what to do, and that might end up hurting your wallet as much as it hurt your car.

Sample Documents

Sample Email to Someone Who Hit Your Car

Sample Description of Car Accident

Sample Automobile Claim Form

Dealing with a Minor Car Accident

  1. Image titled Deal With a Minor Car Accident Step 1
    Look for the other driver's license plate number, make, and model. There's a chance that the other driver may drive off, so it's good to immediately look at the back of their car, say their license plate number out loud, and keep repeating it until you can write it down (or take a picture with your camera phone).
  2. Image titled Deal With a Minor Car Accident Step 2
    Turn on your hazard lights.
  3. Image titled Deal With a Minor Car Accident Step 3
    Call the police as soon as possible. You might be under the impression that the police is called only if it's a major car accident or if somebody's hurt, when in actuality the police should be called no matter how minor the accident, particularly if repairs are going to be needed. The police report will help the insurance companies determine who is responsible for paying.
    • Ask the police if you should cautiously move the car out of the travel lane, if it will move and it is safe to do so. Do not move far lest the other driver think you are running away.
  4. Image titled Deal With a Minor Car Accident Step 4
    Get out of your car only if outside your car is reasonably safe or safer than in it. In a minor accident, your car is unlikely to be at risk of catching fire. Do not step out into fast-moving traffic--go out the opposite door if necessary. The police will be able to direct traffic away safely soon. Be especially careful at night. It is much better to have someone hit your car with you in it than to have him hit you unarmored. And it is much better to fail to attend to someone's minor injury very soon or to lose a witness who could say who should pay for car repairs than to have someone hit by a car.
  5. Image titled Deal With a Minor Car Accident Step 5
    Make sure nobody is hurt. Check yourself and the passengers in your vehicle for any injuries, scratches, bruises or disorientation.
  6. Image titled Deal With a Minor Car Accident Step 6
    Look for witnesses. If the accident happened in sight of a pedestrian, shop, or other drivers, ask them to stay on the scene until the police arrive so that they can provide statements. If possible, get their name and phone number.
  7. Image titled Deal With a Minor Car Accident Step 7
    Exchange information with the other driver. The following information should be exchanged:
    • Names, addresses, telephone numbers
    • Driver's license numbers
    • Each driver's automobile insurance company (including name, address, phone number, and policy number)
  8. Image titled Deal With a Minor Car Accident Step 8
    Tell the police officer exactly what happened. Be specific and don't exaggerate.
  9. Image titled Deal With a Minor Car Accident Step 9
    File a claim or a notification with your insurance company. There are insurance claims and insurance notifications. The last one is when you do notify your insurance company about the accident but do not claim repairs of your car. Depending on how high your insurance access is you might save a lot of money and no-claim years too. Example: replacing an indicator light unit at a local garage instead of claiming it on an insurance might save you something like £250. But do notify your insurance company about the accident anyway!


  • These instructions describe how to cover all the bases in the U.S., but the appropriate response will vary based on the country in which it happened.
  • If you're not at fault and your car is damaged, the other driver may try to convince you to not call the police and not file a claim. While it's not uncommon for parties to work something out without police and insurance getting involved, there are no guarantees. If the other person offers to pay for the damages out of pocket, they can just as easily claim the accident never happened, or that it was your fault. Without a police report, you may end up not getting any kind of compensation.

    • If neither of you want your insurance premiums to go up, you may wish to avoid filing a claim, but don't skip the police report.


  • Some drivers can be belligerent and offensive in the event of an accident.
  • Assess the situation after the accident, so that you are not in danger of being hit by another vehicle while looking at the accident scene.

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Categories: Defensive Driving Skills & Safety