When you’re a mom, being distracted behind the wheel is common. Unfortunately, it can lead to a greater risk of car accidents. There are situations you might be at fault, such as if you rear-end someone.
At the same time, someone might rear-end you as well, in which case it would be their fault.
It’s stressful to be in even a minor fender bender, but there are certain steps you’ll need to take to handle the situation appropriately.
The following are some of the key things to know if you’re in a fender bender with or without your kids.
What’s Considered a Fender Bender?
A fender bender is another term for a minor accident, essentially. There may be a bit of debate over what’s minor, but generally, a minor accident or a fender bender is one in which the parties were going at low speeds.
Usually, a fender bender means one of the involved drivers bumped someone else or maybe lightly tapped a parked car.
While a fender bender may be technically minor, it can still cause headaches if you don’t handle it appropriately.
Following a fender bender, regardless of fault, remain calm. You may need to keep your kids calm as well if they’re upset following the accident.
Check to make sure everyone in the car is okay.
Take a deep breath and try to relax yourself before doing anything else.
You don’t want to say anything that could later be a problem. For example, you don’t want to apologize for the accident or admit that it was your fault.
You also want to make sure you stay calm so that if your kids are in the car, they’re more likely to stay calm.
Once you’ve composed yourself, you can check for any hazards. For example, check your mirrors and quickly do a visual sweep of your surroundings before you get out of your car. You never want to exit your car into oncoming traffic.
If you can, pull over to avoid anymore collisions and turn on your hazard lights.
Contact the Police
If you have a serious accident or one with injuries, you’ll call the police, but you should also do this if the accident was minor.
There are a few reasons it’s important to contact the police, even in the event of a minor accident.
First, they will let you know what steps you should take next. They can act as a mediator, and they may need to come to the scene of an accident to control traffic.
If a police officer responds to the accident, they can assess property damage.
There are times, especially with the pandemic when police might not respond to a minor accident. Even if they don’t respond, you should still initially contact them to make sure.
What If the Police Aren’t Coming?
If the police aren’t coming to the scene of your fender bender, you need to gather as much evidence as you can at the scene.
You’ll need the information of everyone involved and any witnesses. You should take pictures of everything as well.
If law enforcement can’t come to the scene of your accident or isn’t going to, you can still make a police report. You should go to the closest police station as soon as possible and request a report. You may also be able to do it online.
If you’re unsure, just call the local non-emergency number in your area.
You’ll need to report your accident to your insurance company as soon as possible too. Calling your insurance is critical, even if you weren’t at fault or there’s no damage.
Don’t agree to handle costs between the two of you with the other driver.
The other driver could in that case report their injuries a week later, and you might be liable for the accident without having a record of what happened.
Almost all insurance policies have what’s called a notification and cooperation clause. This means you have to tell the insurance company about any accident. You also agree to cooperate with any investigations they initiate.
There are different state laws that you have to consider, depending on where your accident occurs. Every state has its own set of rules as far as whether a report is required. For example, in some states, an accident report has to be filed if there is more than a certain dollar amount in property damage.
Filing a Claim with the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
If the other driver is at-fault for a car accident, then they’ll be expected to pay for any vehicle repairs you might need.
You may need to file a property damage claim with their insurance company.
When you contact their insurance provider, they should give you a claim number. Then, you’ll use that claim number anytime you communicate with the insurance company going forward.
An adjuster should be assigned to your case, who will be your point of contact as you’re going through the claims process.
You would need to show the insurance company proof that the other driver was at-fault if they were. This means that you would need to submit all the evidence you initially gathered.
As far as filing a claim with your insurer, you usually don’t need a police report to do so unless there’s extensive damage. A police report can make the process go faster, though.
If you’re in a minor accident that doesn’t involve another party, then you don’t need a police report. For example, if you run into a mailbox, you can let the homeowner know where the property was damaged, get their contact information and take photos.
The most important thing to remember if you’re in a fender bender is first to remain calm and make sure both you and your children aren’t injured. Beyond that point, regardless of who’s at fault, it tends to be a good rule of thumb to contact local law enforcement and let them decide if they’ll come to the scene or not.