If you are involved in an automobile crash, you should immediately call the local sheriff’s office or police. In fact, in the majority of states, drivers involved in an accident are required by law to call the police if the accident has caused injuries or the vehicle suffered damage above a particular dollar amount. In either case, a law enforcement officer can be an important source of assistance as well as information. A police officer can:
- Offer or arrange for emergency medical care (obviously, if someone has sustained severe injuries, immediately call 911, prior to calling the police)
- Preserve the crash scene
- Investigate the crash and record the possible cause(s) of the crash.
When Should You Call the Police after a Car Accident?
If you are confused whether or not you should call the police after being involved in an automobile accident, experts recommend being on the safe side and calling the police. Drivers involved in a crash are required by law in many states to call the police in some specific situations, including:
- If the accident has caused injuries to someone, or
- If the property damage due to the crash has surpassed the state’s threshold.
You should definitely call the police if you think that the other driver is responsible for the crash or he/she has violated a traffic rule.
Automobile Crash Police Reports
In a car accident case involving motor vehicle law violations, minor/serious injuries, and/or considerable damage to the automobiles involved, the police officer overseeing the case will create a police report in relation to the accident. Make sure to ask for the officer’s name and his/her badge number as well as the law enforcement agency that he/she represents, so you can collect a copy of the crash report once it is prepared by the officer. Also, try getting the crash report number if there is one. You might require paying a minimal fee to get the police report, but it is totally worth paying. Either party involved in an auto insurance claim or an automobile crash lawsuit considerably depends on this report.
A police report usually includes statements of any witnesses as well as any physical proof of what caused the accident. The report will also include any traffic citations issued by an officer, and it may also include the opinion of the officer about who was responsible for the crash. Simply put,
police reports act as a solid piece of evidence, which can help expedite your auto insurance claim process – or increase your odds of winning your accident case if it goes to trial.
Getting a Police Report for an Automobile Crash
The quickest way of obtaining a police report copy is by raising a request with the agency of the investigating officer, which is usually the state’s highway patrol, the local sheriff’s office, or the local police department.
You can contact the traffic unit and give them the police report number if there is one, or you can provide them with your name as well as the time, date, and location of the crash. You might be required to pay a minimal fee to obtain the same.
If you could wait, you can also obtain a free copy of the report from the insurance company’s adjuster who is managing your auto insurance claim.
What If You Are Involved in Just a Fender-Bender without Being Injured?
You might be wondering if you should call the police even when there is a minor accident. Well, the straightforward answer is “yes.” Even when the accident is a minor one, an investigating police officer can aid you in sorting many things out, while clearly documenting what actually happened, just in case your situation changes in the near future.
For instance, the other party involved in the crash might appear cooperative and friendly initially, and he/she may accept his responsibility for the crash at the scene, but then denies everything later on. Or, it might be the case that you didn’t realize the severity of your injuries immediately after the crash. In such a situation, simply call the non-emergency line of the local police department, and request for a dispatcher for suggestions.
If the police refuse to visit the crash scene of your fender-bender, you can consider going to the nearest police station to file a police report on your own, just after exchanging information with the other party. If you find any witnesses, document their names as well as contact details. Also, note down the precise location of the crash, and how it occurred or what caused it. If possible, click pictures of the automobiles involved as well as the crash scene from different positions.
What If the Law Enforcement Agency Asks You to Simply Exchange Information?
If you call the local police department, and they ask you to simply exchange information with the other party involved in the crash, do you know what information you need to exchange? Well, at the least, you should collect from the other party all of the information below:
- Complete name and contact information
- Name of the insurer and auto policy number
- Driver’s license number and license plate number
- Type, model, and color of the vehicle(s) involved.
If the name of the driver involved in the accident is different from the name on the auto policy, determine the relationship between both, and note down their names and addresses.
Ask the other party that you wish to see documents so that you can just copy the necessary information. That document could be either a driver’s license or an insurance policy card. But, why should you do that? Simply because many times, drivers without car insurance tend to provide false information. If the other party denies verification, immediately call the police and ask the other party to stay at the scene until the police arrive.
If you are skeptical about the information provided by them, contact the other driver’s insurer while still being at the accident scene to check for yourself whether or not the other party has provided the correct information. While doing so, make sure to just verify coverage. Never provide any accident-specific details to the insurer of the other party. You should ideally do that once you are away from the crash scene, have time to calm down, and you want to discuss your case with your own insurance company.
Should You Wait for the Police to Arrive?
If you have called the police after a minor automobile crash, it might take an hour or so for them to arrive. So, you should wait for them. While waiting, you can do the following:
- Analyze the scene
- If someone has inured, help them
- Collect evidence
- Note down the names as well as contact details of witnesses, if any
- Try protecting the crash scene without touching, moving or throwing away anything
- Be mindful of what you speak to the other party or other people at the scene.
Once the police are at the scene, only communicate with the investigating officer about the details of your crash. Provide the officer with just the information he/she asks for. Note that the statements you make would end up in your accident’s police report, which might later be used against you during the claim settlement process or if your case goes to trial.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Clermont, Florida for Dedicated Legal Assistance
After calling the police, make sure to notify your insurer about your involvement in an auto accident. This might not be required by law, but quite likely by your insurer.
Dealing with the police and insurance companies can be time-consuming and nerve-racking. You may want to hire an experienced car accident injury lawyer in Clermont, Florida to do it on your behalf, so that you can solely focus on your recovery and receive a fair compensation for your losses