As a driver, minor accidents can occur randomly, potentially leaving you with an undrivable vehicle and costly repairs. Whether you're a brand new driver or a seasoned veteran, your first time in a fender bender can be a stressful, confusing experience.

From collecting information from the other drivers to accurately documenting your vehicle's damage, it can be difficult to know where to begin. So, what should you do after a fender bender?

In this article, J & L Automotive Repairs & Service, Inc.'s auto repair experts discuss a step-by-step process to help you after a minor collision. We discuss immediate steps and suggest tips to help you get the most from your insurance provider and vehicle repair team.

Step-by-Step Recommendations From Licensed Auto Repair Specialists

Fender benders can significantly damage your vehicle, even if it's not immediately visible. That's why it's essential that you bring your car to a licensed auto repair specialist and document all damage thoroughly. But before you get to the repair shop, there are several things to do to get you there safely.

Here's what we recommend:

After Contact: Steer Your Vehicle to the Shoulder

If your accident occurs on a highway or road, your priority should be steering your vehicle toward the shoulder or the safest location away from ongoing traffic. The moments after a collision can be disorienting, but leaving your damaged vehicle in the middle of the road can put you and your car at further risk.

Make sure you slowly pull over to the side and activate your hazard lights to alert other drivers of the issue. If you're on a highway, remain inside your vehicle until you're safely away from active traffic.

Prioritize the Personal Safety of All Drivers

Once you've moved your vehicle to safety, your top priority is to ensure that everyone involved in the accident is uninjured and safe. Take a moment to catch your breath, then check in with any passengers in your car before checking in on the other vehicle(s).

If anyone appears injured, immediately contact emergency services and try to avoid moving injured individuals. Even if there are no visible injuries, a significant accident means you and the other driver should seek medical attention to ensure you prevent internal injuries and don't have side effects from whiplash or a concussion.

Thoroughly Document the Accident

By definition, fender benders are minor collisions that commonly happen in busy parking lots, congested traffic, and when drivers aren't paying attention. However, even collisions that result in scratches or dents can have complex insurance claim processes, so it's important to properly document the accident to protect yourself from liability.

Once all parties are out of harm's way, take the time to document the scene of the accident thoroughly. The more information you have, the better you and the authorities will understand the events leading up to the collision.

It's essential to document the following:

  • Car position after impact
  • Road conditions
  • Weather conditions
  • Traffic signs/lights
  • Location of the accident with cross-streets

Document Car Damage

Documenting the accident scene can provide important context to emergency services, insurance providers, and local authorities, but it's equally important to comprehensively document damage to your vehicle before leaving the scene.

If possible, start by recording a video on your smartphone and walking around the vehicle, showing all angles of your car and the other vehicle(s) involved in the accident. Then, take photos to capture every affected area, including exterior dents or paint transfer, undercarriage, and internal damage.

Create a detailed list of each issue you see during your assessment, as evidence of the scene can help prevent insurance claim disputes and streamline the vehicle repair process.

Exchange Information With the Other Driver

After you've done a safety check and ensured all parties are unharmed, you'll need to exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the fender bender. Even if there's no visible damage, collecting and sharing complete details is essential for insurance and legal purposes.

Collisions can be stressful, and emotions can run high, so try to remain calm and courteous and stick to the facts. If the other driver refuses to cooperate or attempts to flee the scene, note important details, such as the car's make and color or license plate, to help the police and insurance companies understand the events.

Make sure you exchange the following information:

  • Full legal names, phone numbers, and personal/commercial addresses.
  • Driver's license information, including the type of license (if it's a commercial vehicle) and the state of issue.
  • The vehicle make, model, year, license plate, and vehicle identification number.
  • Insurance information, such as company name and policy number.
  • Vehicle ownership information, particularly if the driver is not the owner.
  • Witness contact information, including name and phone numbers.

Contact the Authorities

Even minor collisions should result in notifying local authorities, as this creates formal documentation of the incident and can help with future insurance claims. Police presence can also keep things safe, redirect traffic, and assess if laws were violated. In some jurisdictions, insurance companies require police reports to process a claim.

Notify Your Auto Insurance Provider

The last step to follow when you're in a fender bender is notifying your insurance provider.

Many insurers require you to report an accident within 48 hours, so documenting the scene and promptly contacting your provider is crucial to successfully filing a claim. Your insurer will help you with the next steps, such as scheduling an official inspection, initiating a claim, and coordinating repairs through an approved repair mechanic.

Auto Repair Restores Your Vehicle's Performance

Once you've contacted the authorities, exchanged information with the other driver, and notified your insurer of the accident, finding an approved repair team is essential. Licensed car repair technicians restore your vehicle's appearance and ensure you can drive safely again.

Schedule a Consultation With J & L Automotive Repairs & Service, Inc.’s Technicians

If you’ve been involved in an accident and need an expert team to repair your vehicle, consider contacting J & L Automotive Repairs & Service, Inc..

We specialize in automotive repairs and have a long track record of providing cost-effective, long-lasting service to local drivers.

Call (770) 622-9242 today to schedule a vehicle assessment with our team.