Three Good Reasons To File An Accident Report, Even On A Fender Bender


If you are in a minor accident, often referred to as a "fender bender," you may be tempted to just exchange information with the other driver and take care of the matter on your own. This is perfectly legal in most states, but is it wise? The following includes a few examples of reporting requirements in individual states and three reasons why filing that police report is still the best decision.

Minor Accidents – Definition and Individual State Reporting Requirements

A minor accident is one where there is minimal damage to the vehicles involved, but no injuries. In this case exchanging driver's license and insurance details is perfectly legal, as long as it is allowed in the state where the accident occurs. You must also be sure that the monetary damage is less than the maximum amount allowed by each state. Examples include:

  1. In Illinois, you may forego the report if the damage is less than $1,500 per vehicle. Some towns do require that police officials respond to all accidents, so a report is usually filed in all cases.
  2. Oregon also has a $1,500 limit, but requires a report if either one of the vehicles involved requires towing.
  3. In California, the maximum amount is $1,000. In urban areas or on major highways, local police or the California Highway Patrol usually respond quickly, thanks largely to other parties calling in the incident. If either vehicle needs to be towed, a report is automatically generated.

Three Good Reasons to File a Report on Minor Auto Accidents

Damage Might Be More Extensive Than You Thought

It's sometimes difficult to eyeball accident damage and correctly estimate the cost of repairs. Professionals look past the cosmetic damage, such as a bent bumper or scraped fender, to find out hidden problems in either the undercarriage or adjoining parts.

Looking at that bent bumper, for example, according to, a repair or replacement may cost in excess of $1,500, depending on the damage. Today's bumpers are designed to absorb energy to minimize the damage to the rest of the vehicle. When the bumper is hit, the energy absorbed tends to cause more damage than a similar hit on the older and heavier steel bumpers. Replacing the bumper is often the preferred option.

Depending on the type of vehicle, and the extent of the damage, you might be looking at replacing that scraped fender instead of repairing it. In either case, the fender must be smoothed out before primer and multiple coats of matched paint are applied. All of this can easily put your fender repair bill in the $1,500 range.

Injuries Might Show Up After the Fact

You may feel just fine after the accident, but what happens if you wake up with an assortment of pains the next day? What if the other people in the accident have similar issues? It's best to be checked out at the scene and accept transport to a local hospital if advised. Even if all parties declare they are "fine," insist on an on-scene accident report, which will note whether treatment was declined. It may not alleviate the "morning after" discomfort, but it may help you in court if legal action is taken.  

Driver May Change Mind About Legal Action

Even in the most minor accident scenario, it is possible for one or both parties to change their mind about legal action. It may be because there was a hidden injury, and one or more of the involved parties are facing medical bills. Perhaps additional vehicle damage was discovered. Even worse, one of the parties may have an expired license or outdated insurance information. In all of these cases, that filed accident report may turn out to be your "best friend."

For more information and advice, contact an auto accident attorney in your area.


3 February 2017

Learning About Accident Attorney Services

Hello, my name is Matthew. Welcome to my site. I am here to talk to you about accident and personal injury attorneys. When I was involved in a serious accident, I had to recover for months in the hospital. My finances suffered due to mounting medical bills and lost wages. I dealt with considerable pain through every phase of the healing process. I worked with an accident and personal injury attorney to obtain compensation for the repercussions of the accident. I created this site to help others find an attorney to work with so they too could acquire compensation following an accident.