Calling the Police After a Car Accident
If you have been in a car accident, one of the first things you should do is decide whether or not the police should be called. Many states don’t require that the police be called unless the damages exceed a certain dollar amount, or someone has been injured or killed. Even though you don’t have to call the police in certain accident situations, you may wish to think twice before deciding not to call them.
Reasons to Call the Police
- Significant Motor Vehicle Violations – It isn’t always easy to tell who at-fault in a car accident by just looking at pictures of the accident scene later on. That is why it is always preferable to call the police to the accident scene where they can assess what happened. Also, you should immediately call the police if one of the other drivers involved in the accident was driving recklessly.
- Drivers Who are Under the Influence – If you feel that one of the drivers involved in the accident is acting strangely and may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you should immediately call the police. If you do not call the police and the driver is allowed to leave the car accident scene, the driver may have another car accident, injure someone else, or cause additional property damage.
- Undetermined Amount of Damage to Property – Unless you repair cars for a living, it may not be possible to determine how much damage your vehicle sustained in a car accident. If there is any doubt about the extent of damage, it is in your best interest to call the police and let them decide if they should go to the accident scene.
- Unsure If Anyone Was Injured – If you have been in a car accident, you may not immediately know if you were injured. Car accidents can cause physical injuries that don’t appear for days. Even if you don’t appear to be injured, it may be best to call the police and let them assess the situation.
- Document Car Accident Details – Police officers are trained to identify and ascertain details that most drivers never think of looking for or ask questions about. They can also investigate and document the potential causes of an accident. If you know that the other driver was at fault, the police report may be helpful in verifying that you were not responsible for the accident.
- Secure The Car Accident Scene – Accident scenes can be dangerous, especially when someone has been hurt and/or property damage has occurred. Police officers are trained to monitor accident scenes and make them safer for everyone. They can also preserve accident scene details for later analysis.
- Protect Your Legal Rights – If you have been in a car accident where someone else was at fault, you will want to protect your legal rights by having a police officer at the scene. The officer can gather the information necessary to prove the other driver caused the accident. If a police officer is not called, the other driver can claim you were at fault for the car accident.
If the Police are Not Called
If you decide against calling the police, you will need to collect as much information as possible about the car accident. Make sure that you gather the following items before leaving the accident scene.
- Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of everyone involved in the car accident.
- Other driver’s automobile insurance company information, such as name, policy number, address, and phone number. Many drivers don’t have automobile insurance, and in most states are driving illegally without it. If someone does not have automobile insurance, call the police immediately.
- Driver’s license information, including the name, date of birth, issuing state, and license number. Make sure that the picture on the license matches the person who was driving the vehicle. Look closely and verify all information.
- License plate number on the vehicle, and the state that issued the plates.
- Vehicle ID Number (VIN). Match the vehicle ID number to the insurance card information. Insurance cards can easily be faked and you don’t want to get stuck paying for your own injuries. If in doubt, call the police and have them verify that insurance coverage is current.
- Information from any witnesses at the car accident scene, such as names, addresses, and telephone numbers.
- Take multiple pictures of the car accident scene, the vehicles involved in the accident, driver’s licenses, insurance card information, and license plates. Pictures are better evidence of a car accident than written documentation. Besides, if you make a mistake writing down the other driver’s information, you will have pictures that can be used as documentation.
Contact the police as soon as possible after the car accident. A police report will need to be completed before an accident claim can be made. It’s a good idea to have a police report on file, even if no claims are made to either driver’s insurance company.
If you have been injured in a car accident, please consider calling a personal injury lawyer for advice. A personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles can provide you with sound legal advice which can keep you from making serious mistakes. A car accident lawyer can also file a civil suit, on your behalf, for injuries you sustained in the accident. M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers handles cases for people injured in accidents caused by someone else’s negligence. If you need legal advice, please contact us for a free consultation.