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Legal How-To: Filing a Minor Car Accident Claim

By Andrew Lu | Last updated on

You've been injured in a minor car accident. Do you know how to collect the damages you are entitled to by filing a car accident claim?

For catastrophic and serious car accidents, the steps to collect may be simple: Just call a lawyer. However, for minor fender benders, getting the assistance of an attorney may not be practical.

What's the Problem?

Most car accidents are minor, and result in short-term injuries, if any. But even for a minor car accident, you may still end up paying out of pocket for things like touch-up repairs for your car, co-pays for doctor's visits and prescriptions, and even lost wages from missing a few hours of work.

Your total expenses may add up to just a few hundred dollars or less. So you probably won't want to hire an attorney for $300 an hour to handle your claim. However, this doesn't mean that you should just give up.

What Can You Do?

Drivers are required to carry automobile insurance for a reason. This is to ensure that victims of car accidents get compensated for their injuries, no matter how slight.

Some steps you should take to collect for your minor injuries can include:

  • Reviewing your own insurance policy. Look for the relevant provisions on property damage and medical payments coverage. Your insurance policy may cover your own injuries and provide for a system to submit claims. If you have questions, you should call your insurance company.

  • Filing an insurance claim against the other driver. Hopefully, you exchanged information with the other driver and have his auto insurance information, including his policy number. If the other driver was at fault, his insurance company may be responsible for making you whole. Be prepared, as you may need to present relevant information like any police reports, repair invoices, and medical bills.

  • Going to small claims court. If the damage claims are for a relatively small amount, small claims court may be an inexpensive and quick way to resolve the dispute without the assistance of an attorney. Different states have different rules for bringing a claim.

Need More Help?

If you have been seriously injured or the damage amount you are seeking is significant, you should consider talking to an attorney.

This is especially true for car accidents, because you are often dealing with insurance adjusters who are notoriously tough negotiators and can be reluctant to pay up. An experienced attorney will know how to deal with this, and will be able to fight for your rights.

Are you facing a legal issue you'd like to handle on your own? Suggest a topic for our Legal How-To series by sending us a tweet @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #HowTo.

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