Do I Need to Call the Police If I Am In an Auto Accident?
It’s always a smart idea to call the police right after you’ve been involved in an auto accident, even if it doesn’t look like anyone was injured. Making a police report and having officers investigate the scene can help answer any questions that may – and probably will – arise in the future when you make your insurance claim.
In addition, you can’t simply assume that another driver and his or her passengers didn’t sustain some type of injury, regardless of how it appears immediately after the accident. If someone later sues you for personal injury, the police report can be the first step in establishing exactly what happened and who was at fault. The same goes for possible injuries that you sustained yourself. Oftentimes injury symptoms don’t appear until hours or even days later.
Be sure to jot down the officers’ respective badge numbers and ask them for a police report number and how you need to go about getting a copy of the report. Keep in mind that if a major weather event is occurring at the time of the accident, many cities ask that you not request police assistance if it was just a simple fender bender with no injuries. If this happens when you call 911, ask how to get to the nearest police station so you can make a police report in person.
Additional Information to Collect
In addition to making a police report, you should also talk briefly with the drivers of all other vehicles involved and exchange the following information with them:
- Name, address, phone number and email address
- Driver’s license state and number
- Insurance company name and contact information
Whether talking with other drivers or with the police, never say anything that implies that you think you caused the accident, partially or completely. This kind of admission against interest can definitely come back to haunt you later. It’s also a good idea to take pictures with your cellphone as soon as possible. Try to get good, clear shots of the following for each vehicle, including yours:
- Make, model and color
- License plate state and number
- Indications of old damage
- Indications of new damage likely caused by the accident
It may also be a good idea to take pictures of the accident scene, especially if the accident occurred at night or during inclement weather. For instance, was there black ice or debris on the roadway? Was a traffic signal not working? Was the streetlight out? Were construction barriers up or narrow lanes indicated? All of these can become crucial if a lawsuit ensues, either against you or by you against someone else.