You just got into a minor car accident. No one was seriously hurt, and only minor damage is visible on both cars. Should you just exchange insurance information, drive away, and not involve the Police? That’s a very bad idea! Here are some reasons why you should always call the Police after a car accident, and get a car accident Police report, even after a minor car accident.
Not Reporting A Car Accident To The Police May Be Illegal In Your State Or Result In Fines
Laws associated with car accidents vary from state to state. Some states will require you to report an accident that involves any injury, even a minor injury. Other states will require you to report an accident if the damages are more than a specific amount, usually $1,000+. So to be on the safe side, you should always report a car accident to the Police, even minor car accidents.
Different states also have laws requiring you to report all accidents to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Failing to report your accident can result in fines and even the loss of your driver’s license.
Your Auto Insurance Company May Require A Police Report To Help Establish Fault Status
Even if you weren’t at fault, you still might need a car accident Police report to help establish fault status. The first thing that an insurance adjuster will probably ask for is a Police report to show which driver was at fault. If you don’t have one, then that makes things very complicated, and expensive, especially if attorneys have to get involved.
And even if the other driver admits to you that they were at fault, they might change their story after the accident. This usually happens when the other driver fully realizes the financial impact of the accident. Having a Police report will help you establish the facts of what caused the accident and make the insurance claim process much easier.
The Other Driver May Claim Additional Damage After The Accident
One of the most common ways that people commit insurance fraud is by inflicting additional damage to their vehicle after an accident. Why? The more damage to the car, the bigger the insurance claim payment check. Having a car accident Police report can help protect you from these types of situations.
Your Car Accident Injuries May Worsen Over Time
Have you ever hurt or strained yourself, but didn’t really feel it until the next day? The same thing can happen after a minor car accident. Even if you feel fine, it’s still a good idea to get a car accident Police report after an accident. Also without a car accident Police report, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may refuse to cover the costs of your medical bills.
The Car Accident Police Report Is Proof That Your Accident Actually Happened
Without a car accident Police report, the other driver might even claim that the accident never even happened. Unless you have dashcam footage of the accident, your insurance claim is just your word against theirs. So basically, a “car accident no Police report” situation is just a really, terrible idea.
Checklist: What To Do After Minor Car Accident
To help protect yourself, here are all of the things that you should do after a minor car accident.
- Check if anyone in your car is injured. If someone is seriously hurt, then call 911.
- If possible, pull over to a safe area and don’t block traffic. Blocking traffic may prevent emergency vehicles from reaching their destination.
- Look for leaking fluids, especially gas, as well as smoke, sparks, or fire.
- Call the Police using a non-emergency number. Don’t use 911 to report a minor car accident. Just do an Internet search for “local Police non-emergency number” to find the right number to call in your local area.
- Take pictures of the damage to all vehicles involved in the crash. If you have a dashcam, make sure you lock the footage of the accident, so it doesn’t get overwritten.
- Do not initiate or get involved in any roadside negotiations. In many cases, this will be illegal.
- Don’t leave the scene. Wait for a law enforcement officer to arrive and file a car accident Police report.
- Exchange contact and insurance information.
- Call your auto insurance provider.
- Wait for the Police to tell you that it’s OK to leave the scene.
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Frank Wilson is a retired teacher with over 30 years of combined experience in the education, small business technology, and real estate business. He now blogs as a hobby and spends most days tinkering with old computers. Wilson is passionate about tech, enjoys fishing, and loves drinking beer.