Getting into a car accident can be stressful and alarming. According to 4AutoInsuranceQuotemost of the accidents that occur every day across the United States result in no injuries and very little to no damage to the vehicles involved. However, there are instances where drivers are urged by law to call the police officers and file a police report.  In case the authorities choose not to attend the scene of the accidentpolice reports can still be filed if the driver files one themselves. 

What do if you’re involved in a car wreck

Calling the police is one of the best ways to ensure your safety and legal interests. When a driver is involved in a collision, it is important to keep the following six steps in mind.

  1. Asses the situation. Immediately after the collision occurred, it is important to turn off the car and turn on the car’s hazards lights to alert other drivers. Checking for major injuries will determine if emergency crews are needed.  If someone is seriously injured, don’t move that person unless there’s more danger in leaving them.
  2. Determine the extent of damages. The extent of damages will determine if you need to call the police immediately or if it can wait until later. If there is no visible damage, and nobody is injured, deciding to contact the police at a later time to inform them of the accident for insurance purposes is ok.
  3. Don’t admit fault. Don’t apologize for a driving mistake you may have made. Cooperate fully with the other driver and the police but do so without admitting fault or speculating.
  4. Exchange important information. Record the name, address and contact details of the other driver. Write down the driver’s license number, license plate number, the make and model of his car, and insurance company. Driving without insurance is illegal in most states. Accidents can be pursued through the at-fault party’s insurance carrier. If the at-fault party refuses to provide insurance information and leaves before the police arrive, take a picture, or at least write down the license plate number for that driver’s vehicle.
  5. Take pictures.  Regardless of whether or not law enforcement assists, document everything at the scene of the crash. Take photos of the vehicle, the other driver’s vehicle, and the surrounding area. The pictures can be used if being sued or questioned by a police officer. Documentation is crucial because individuals can lie about what happened to the police or insurance companies.
  6. Seek witnesses. Witnesses are unbiased people who saw the accident happen and are willing to help out. They contribute for the sake of the investigation. Witnesses are rare, but they can provide information to the insurance company and police.

Reasons to call the police 

There are many gray areas when determining if it is appropriate to contact local law enforcement after an accident. In all states, law enforcement is necessary in case there are injuries, a significant amount of damagesaccident blocks traffic, or if the other driver is displaying signs of intoxication. Including an officer at the scene of an accident would expedite the exchange of information between parties involved, carry out appropriate arrests and clear the scene efficiently.

Reporting all crashes is required in some states, regardless of damage or trauma. Law enforcement would arrive at accident scenes in Massachusetts and New Hampshire if the collision caused a personal injury or the damages exceeded $1,000.The Rhode Island State Police recommends drivers involved in a crash to call 911 even if there are no injuries. In Alabama, a report is necessary when an accident results in death, personal injury or more than $250 in damage to either party.

Not all injuries appear right away. Some take days or even weeks to show. If found later the wreck caused an injury but the police were not police involved, it might be difficult to prove with a sufficient degree of certainty that the injury resulted from the crash. An official police report could provide a key piece of evidence needed down the road when pursuing the other driver for personal injury damages.

Reasons to file a police report

The police department may decline to respond to a minor accident scene if no one is injured. If this happens, it is substantial to collect the other driver‘s name, address, telephone number, an insurance company, policy number, and license plate number. An official police document is necessary for reasons including a delay in damages, future liability, injuries and facilitating a settlement. This document will be crucial if the driver plans on forcing the other driver to court.                                                                                                                                     

The police report will include an assessment of the cause of the accident and the damage done in the crash. The evidence provided by a police report will also help support an injury or vehicle damage claim. Reimbursement is more likely if the driver obtains proof. Information provided in a police report includes location, date and time, damages and statements from both drivers and witnesses.

If a driver does not file a police report, the other driver may try to claim medical problems or physical damage to their vehicle or property that wasn’t caused. But unless a police report is filed and evidence is documented, it’s just hearsay.

The key factors in most states represent the extent of the damage to the vehicles, whether or not anybody is injured and the actions of the other driver.