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Must I tell the police if I am involved in a traffic accident?
- March 29, 2017
Traffic accident laws differ by state. Where you live depends on what you do following an accident. In some states, drivers and victims are required to file a police report at the scene. In other states, drivers are only required by law to notify the police of an accident if there is more than a certain amount of damage. In some states, the laws continue to differ. Knowing the law where you live helps if you are involved in a car accident, but reporting an accident is always the wise choice. No matter how small or minor the accident, getting a police report at the scene is helpful. Simply exchanging information with the other driver who caused the accident leaves you at risk for the other driver later denying the accident. If they deny the accident and no proof it occurred exists, their insurance company might not pay for your damages.
Call the Police
No matter what happens, call the police. They want to come out, assess the damage, issue a police report, and you want them to. They are the people responsible for determining who caused an accident by examining evidence, talking to witnesses, and evaluating the positioning and damage to the vehicles involved. If you fail to call the police, there is no official record of an accident. There is no report determining who is at-fault, and there is no longer a scene where anyone else can determine fault by assessing the damage. You might not be able to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance agency.
Injuries and Car Accidents
No matter what the damage is to a vehicle, there is a law in most states requiring you call the police if there is any injury associated with an accident. Injuries are complex, and they must be reported. If you are injured in an accident, call the police. When you are done with the police, seek medical attention. You can seek medical attention on the scene, or you can go see your doctor when you leave. It’s up to you, but it’s imperative you seek medical attention.
One issue is a lack of injury. Many victims and drivers feel they are not injured following an accident. Perhaps it was a minor accident and you don’t feel you were injured. Perhaps you don’t see blood or feel broken bones, so you assume you are just fine following an accident. Whatever the case, there is a chance you are still injured. Many accident injuries are not visible when you look at your body. Many are internal injuries, many are injuries that don’t show up for a few days unless diagnosed, and all injuries are more painful and harder to treat when they go undiagnosed.
What to Do Following An Accident
You know you should call the police, but that doesn’t mean you will. Regardless, be sure you stop the car, take photos of the damage, exchange information with the other driver, and ask any witnesses for their contact information. This can all help you if the other driver decides to deny responsibility for the accident when you go to file a claim with his or her insurance agency.
While a police report won’t stop the other driver from denying liability, it’s more difficult for them to do so when there is a police report and evidence against them. Your job is to say nothing incriminating at the scene of an accident anyone can use against you, and it’s to gather as much information as possible.
Call an accident attorney following your accident. Please seek medical attention first, but call an attorney when you’ve had time to process the accident and your options. Personal injury attorneys are able to help you make an informed decision, they help you understand your rights, and they help you learn how you can proceed following an accident. Whether you file a lawsuit or not, calling an attorney can help you understand your rights and feel more confident in the decisions you make in the days following an accident. These are the moments that matter most, and handling them correctly is paramount to your case.