Frequently Asked Questions - Do you have to call the police after a minor car accident?
The process following an automobile collision can become frustrating, drawn out and confusing. Not taking the proper steps when involved in an accident could leave you exposed to complications and delays in the different processes following the crash. Contacting the police after any collision is one of those very important and necessary steps. Think of it this way, if you were involved in a fight but nobody was around to witness the fight, the explanation of this fight would end up being a “he said” “she said” argument. With no independent witnesses around to confirm the accounts fight, the two parties could essentially endlessly argue that the other side was at fault.
Similarly, when involved in a motor vehicle collision the police help document the facts and circumstances of the crash. Moreover, the police make an initial determination of who was at fault for the crash. Without a police crash report, the circumstances and blame for the crash could prove to be difficult to ascertain, especially when the case is negotiated or litigated many months, if not years later. Even in minor collisions, it is very important to always have the police report to the scene. You should also always exchange insurance and contact information with the other party involved as a precautionary measure. Make sure to collect things like names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information, and license plate information.
When the police report to the scene they will take statements from each involved party. They will then look at the evidence of the damage on each of the vehicles and document how the incident occurred. They will typically also deem someone at fault for the accident and or determine some type of liability between the two parties. Having a police officer on the scene can also help to answer any questions, help guide you in the right direction and get you any proper care you may need. If injuries arise from the accident it can be very beneficial to have a police offer on scene that can contact further emergency services and get you the required treatment.
The police report typically helps to aide in the investigation once you report the accident to each respective person’s insurance company. We like to think of it as an unbiased report from an unrelated third party. While the insurance companies are deeming liability they will take statements from each part involved and use the police report in an attempt to quickly and efficiently determine liability for the accident.
The police report is also important so that the details of the accident are clear and concise. Drivers and victims involved in accidents often have contradicting stories that unfortunately can cause delays in the insurance company’s investigation.
For example, lets say that two vehicles are stopped in traffic and a third vehicle with a distracted driver comes out of nowhere and strikes the last vehicle in the rear and this in turn pushes that vehicle into the one in front of them. All of the parties involved would report the incident to the insurance company and give their statements. If all of their statements don’t coincide and they have no independent witnesses or a police report the insurance company may take longer to decide who is liable for the crash. This could in turn delay reimbursement for different compensations such as lost wages, pain and suffering etc.
Contacting the police after a collision also helps to have each party’s insurance information documented. Sometimes if a driver is uninsured they can provide false information that you may have no way of verifying later. The police report that is prepared usually will have the vehicle and owner information on there for later use. Situations can arise where parties involved don’t want to verify information, if this occurs it is always recommended you contact the police and insist the driver stay put. False information could lead to complications when contacting the insurance company to handle your damages or seek compensation for various losses.
Having the police at the scene and prepare a police report will also aide in preserving the scene of the accident. Accidents are typically not anticipated and at times can occur in less than convenient areas or roadways. Although moving the vehicles before the police arrive seems like a logical idea you should always wait for them to report to the scene and preserve the evidence of the scene before properly moving the vehicles out of the way and off to the side. This will help the officer prepare a clear and accurate report explaining the details of the accident and or help to determine fault for the accident.
The police will also help investigate the cause and details of the accident to the best of their ability. It is important to have a trained officer to help gather witness statements and as much information as possible to accurately prepare a report that will later aide in potential lawsuits or claims that arise with each respective insurance company. If injuries arise and you chose to pursue a claim for your injuries and or lawsuit against the at fault party having a police report will be very beneficial in those crucial processes.
If you have an injury that arises from the accident that will require medical treatment or possibly even extensive care it is always a good idea to have a police report. If the accident is someone else’s fault the report could have all of the necessary information documented and it can aide in helping to get your medical bills covered through the other persons insurance. Not having a report can delay this process.
Regardless of the severity of the accident having the police on the scene can be beneficial for accurate information documentation, help getting necessary medical care and providing aide in answering questions or concerns involved parties may have. You should also always request a copy of the report at your local sheriffs office to have for your own records. We at Trial Pro always recommend when in doubt call the police. You can never anticipate how difficult the process following a crash can become without having all the details of the situation officially documented.