1ST Accident Help

I have been driving for only about 3 months- got a 2009 Hyundai Accent about 2 months ago, and yesterday got into a minor accident. I’m a bit shaken up, but OK. I think the only damage to the car is some dents in the right side doors- front and rear, but other than that nothing seems to be wrong, after all, I drove it home. My question is: should I have it inspected for unseen damage- if so how much might it cost, and what should I ask for? I’m new to all of this, so please forgive my ignorance on these matters.

It is hard to see from here, but I have often been fooled about what looks like nothing and what is nothing. Twice I had damage that I would have thought trivial, but the insurance rep, pointed out problems I did not see including safety problems. The insurance company paid the bill and I still got additional discounts that year and the year after.

I would have my insurance company take a look at it.

Sounds good. Do I take the car to a mechanic- what do you mean by insurance rep? Thank you for your feedback. I’m so embarrassed over all this- I don’t want anything else bad to happen.

Yes, see your insurance agent first.
Even though it may have been a one car oops, a car this new must have full coverage and the agent will guide you through the process.

Your proof of insurance card or papers will identify whom you, or your parents, buy insurance from. ( assuming you’re a 16 year old beginning to drive. I know you could be beginning to drive at thirty something as is Russell Brand )
Phone the number on that document.
If it’s a local office you can drive over there and talk to them.
If it’s an on-line company, phone them and they will send a live person, the adjuster, to look at your car.

Thank you very much.

Call your agent to determine what your deductible is. Then take it to a few body shops to determine what the cost is. If the deductible is higher then what it’ll cost to fix it then don’t make a claim with your insurance company.

I don’t know what state you’re in, but be aware that many states have a rule that accidents resulting in a certain dollar amount of damage or resulting in any injuries need to be reported to the police on the spot so that a report can be filled out. Hopefully that’s not your situation.

The police were there and filed a report. Thank you everyone for the info.

Welcome to the wonderful world of driving!
Being you are a new driver, and have never done any of this before, I have some tips for you:

First off, since the accident is already done, should there ever be a next time, try to limit what you say to everyone at the scene. You don’t want to accidentally accepting blame for an accident that you might not have been the cause of. Just state the exact facts when someone asks you questions, and never give your opinion of what happened to anyone.

Now, for this accident, I have a couple of quick questions:

Was it just your car involved, or was there another car involved?
Did you hit the other car, or did it hit you?
Was the other person the cause of the accident, or were you?

If you were not the cause of the accident, don’t, under any circumstances, accept any blame for it. If the other person’s insurance company tries to assign blame to you, talk to your insurance company agent, and have them fix it for you. My oldest sister got screwed over a couple years back when someone totaled her car by flipping a u-turn in front of her. Now her insurance is higher, and it wasn’t her fault.

As for the damage, I would have recommended that you take the car to a body shop before involving your insurance company if the accident was your fault, and you were the only vehicle in the accident. If the cost would have been slightly more than your deductible, and you can afford to repair it out of pocket, that would be the best way to handle it.

If its under the deductible amount, then there really isn’t any reason to get the insurance company involved.

The easy way to find out if there’s any important issues in those doors is simple:

First, roll up and down the windows.
If they work just as well as the drivers side doors, then that’s great.
If they don’t, that’s an issue.

Next up, take the car to a car wash, and run it through a couple of times.
You want to find out quick if there’s a leak into the car from the doors.
You will also open the doors, and shake them pretty good to see if you hear any water sloshing around inside of them. This will let you know the doors themselves have been compromised.

Lastly, you want to open and close the doors, and see if the align on the car body the same way they do on the driver’s side of the car.

Since you have damage in the position you have, I’m guessing it was a 2 car accident.
Several causes:

Car hit you pulling out of a driveway, or an intersection, while you were passing by (usually not your fault).
You ran a red light, and a car didn’t wait for you to go by, and hit you (usually your fault).
You were driving along, and someone in the lane to your right swerved into your lane, hitting you (usually not your fault).
You were driving along, and swerved into the lane to your right, hitting their car (usually your fault).

These are just a couple.
If its a situation where it wasn’t your fault, don’t let them pin it on you for any reason.


Wow! Thank you so much for all the info. I have called the insurance to report the accident, but did nothing more- I think they said they wont file a claim unless I want them to. (??) There is, however, a claim number, so I’m a bit confused.

Yes, it was a two car accident- a transit bus and my car, actually. I turned from the wrong lane and it was too late to correct my mistake when I realized it. I thought the bus was in a bus lane, and stopped, and that my lane could turn too. I was wrong. That’s what panicking about getting lost gets me.

Your self-help suggestions are wonderful. I am taking it to a mechanic in a few days for a free assessment- I found him through another mechanic recommended by cartalk. Before that, I think I’ll try your tricks and hope for the best.
I’m pretty sure- positive- that it was my fault- I mailed in the ticket with the payment today. I think I’ll get one point on my license.

Thank you again for your help.

So you’re required to get a dollar amount estimate on the damage AT THE SITE? Which of the many states that require that can you name?

I’m going to rewrite what Bladecutter said. Do with it what you will.

“Just state the exact facts when someone asks you questions”

should be “exchange insurance information with the other driver and only answer questions from the police.” The other driver does not need your phone number, maybe not even name (I’m not sure on that one), life story, or your view on the accident. When in doubt call the police and let them take a report. You’ll each give your version and the officer will draw a diagram or two. Sounds like you did just fine. Use those mirrors!

No, what he’s saying is that you can’t go up to an insurance company and say “Hey dudes I got in a wreck, and it was the other guy’s fault, and it’s $15,000 worth of damages. Honest.” They need a police report to confirm the wreck happened and who’s fault it was before they’ll pay over a certain amount.

The other driver does not need your phone number, maybe not even name (I’m not sure on that one), life story, or your view on the accident.

Actually you MUST divulge your name and license to all parties involved in the accident if asked. If police get involved then they will be required to give that information out to all parties involved if asked.

In my state (Indiana), apparently we are required to report any accident to our own insurance company. I was hit in a parking lot by a woman in a minivan. She screamed at me to get out of her way–the manager of the store was chasing her. The woman had shoplifted a dozen candles from the store. She clipped another vehicle on her escape. I managed to get the license number and the manager called the police. The police officer informed me that I had to report the incident to my insurance company. I told the officer that I didn’t have collision insurance on the car (the car was 26 years old at the time). He said that it didn’t matter–I needed to report the incident to my insuarnce company. I did call the insurance company and explained everything to them. Three days later, I received a call from the insurance company and was informed that I was covered by the uninsured motorists provision of the policy and it extended to all our vehicles. I was told to take the car to a body shop and get an estimated. Well, I put off going to the body shop. The car is a heap and I was sure the estimator at the shop would have rolled with laughter about fixing the car. About a week later, I got a call in my office–the claims adjuster was in my driveway examining the car and wanted to know where to leave the check. I drove home and the adjuster had a printer in the back seat of her car and was cutting the check for me for $275. I figured she had totaled the car out. I took the check and said, “I’ll go get the title for you”. “Not on your life”, she replied. “We don’t want your car. The estimate is less than half the value of the car. Go spend the money however you want”. I still have the car and it still has a dent in the right rear quarter panel. My wife managed to spend the check on clothes.

You State, "I am taking it to a mechanic in a few days for a free assessment- . . . "

I wouldn’t go to that “mechanic” unless he is employed at an auto body shop (or auto collision shop). There are “mechanics” who perform maintenance and mechanical repairs on cars in repair facilities and then there are other “mechanics” called “body men” (body women") who work on car bodies, repairing collision damage, fixing rust damage, and painting car bodies. You want the body shop (collision shop) guys.

I am going to put MikeInNH’s quote back up here, too: “Call your agent to determine what your deductible is. Then take it to a few body shops to determine what the cost is. If the deductible is higher then what it’ll cost to fix it then don’t make a claim with your insurance company.” Mike has given good advice.

You may want to pay out of pocket for repairs if they are fairly minor and affordable. Get an estimate (I’d get a least 2 - two different shops) and then since your insurance agent is already aware of the collision and possible claim, I’d discuss the consequences of the collision and / or claim with her / him.

Sometimes making a claim (for “at fault”) accidents can raise your future insurance premiums. The agent can advise you on the best way to handle this and proceed. I’d ask if your accident can raise your rates even if you don’t file a claim. Anyhow, give a call to your agent and have this discussion until you understand what’s happening.


Consider Calling This Your Only Accident. Couldn’t Referring To It As Your First Accident Be A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy ? Three Months For Number One Is Not All That Good.


@Common sense answer: Thank you for your opinion, but I must ask: do you really find it necessary to rub in the fact that I was only driving for three months and got into an accident? I’m feeling guilty enough as it is without having strangers make fun of me. And technically, the first can also be the only. I certainly don’t plan on having another one. And as for “mechanic”, I already called a few places and have been referred to someone who does “body” work. Although I appreciate your help, please consider being a little less condescending in future posts, both to me, and to others. I do not want to appear rude, please forgive me for seeming a bit harsh.

I Guess You Can Neither Detect Nor Appreciate My Sense Of Humor Through Cyberspace. Please Accept My Appologies. My Attempted Humor Was To Put You More At Ease, Not Hurt Your Feelings.