It's a scenario nearly as old as the automobile itself: A fender-bender occurs and the drivers of the vehicles step out to take a look at the damage. It appears that everyone is physically okay, so the conversation quickly turns to the condition of the vehicles involved in the mishap.
Some version of the following is inevitably stated by one of the parties:
- "Do we really need to get the police involved?"
- "Do we really need to get the insurance companies involved?"
- "Do we really need to get lawyers involved?"
Well, do you?
Yes. As tempting as it is to write something off as "just a scratch", assume you're fine physically, or exchange some cash to pay for a touch-up repair, there are legal processes in place for a reason:
- Filing a police report creates a record of the accident and preserves contact information of participants in and witnesses of the accident.
- Handling repairs through your insurance company establishes a record of the damage and make sure that responsible parties cover the damages they cause; it also opens the door to "no-fault" benefits that cover medical costs related to the accident.
- If your scratches or minor injuries turn out to be more severe than anticipated, having a lawyer on your side can help you obtain the full compensation available to you for medical costs, pain and suffering, lost earnings, and property damage.
Taking a few moments to do things the right way after an accident has no downside, but failing to do so can result in a lifetime of medical and financial headaches.