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Dos and Don’ts When Reporting a Car Accident to the Police?

Reporting a Car Accident

In a car accident resulting in injuries and damages, drivers must always report the crash to the authorities. Aside from ensuring your safety, reporting a collision initiates a sequence of events that may substantially affect the resolution of any further claims or legal actions.

For instance, if a drunk driver hits you, the police officers can verify if the other driver was really impaired at the time of the crash. If proven guilty, they can be responsible for paying the damage expenses. This can happen if you file a car accident claim against the at-fault individual. Remember that alerting the authorities is a crucial step in receiving compensation. However, there are specific points to remember when cooperating with the police officers. 

Should I Report a Car Accident to the Police?

It is usually a good idea to notify the police about a car accident. In most cases, if a vehicle collision results in injuries, damages, or death, you must report it to the authorities. However, this usually depends on the jurisdiction in your area.

For instance, in California, it is mandatory to inform law enforcement about a car accident in the following situations:

  • When the accident causes minor to severe injuries to any person involved.
  • If the incident leads to vehicle or property damages amounting to $1,000 or more.
  • In cases of wrongful death resulting from the accident.
  • When any drivers involved lack a valid license.
  • If the responsible party leaves the scene of the accident.
  • When any driver is found to be operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If you’re doubtful, it’s best to be cautious and report the incident to the police. Law enforcement officers are equipped to handle such situations and can offer advice and support if needed.

Dos and Don’ts When Reporting a Car Accident to the Police

While it is always a good idea to notify the police of a car accident, there are specific points you should consider when doing so. Sometimes, the police report created by the responding officer may go against your side of the story. So, it is essential to only do the necessary tasks when reporting to the authorities:

Dos When Reporting a Car Accident

Stay at the Scene

In a car accident, mainly resulting in injuries and damages, it is crucial that you stay at the scene, offer assistance, and contact the authorities. If you hit a stationary vehicle without the owner in the area, you may leave your contact information or report the collision to the police. 

This is because it is the legal duty of drivers to report a collision and seek help when needed. 

If you fail to stay at the scene, you may be tagged as a hit-and-run driver, aggravating the situation. Aside from the damage expenses you must cover, you will likely face legal consequences, such as fines or jail time. 

On the other hand, if a hit-and-run driver hits you, you must still report the accident. Usually, responding officers collect pertinent details to locate the driver. If they fail to do so, you may still receive compensation by using your insurance. In such cases, getting a lawyer for a car accident is the optimal choice for you to determine the best legal options suitable to your needs. 

Mention Important Details

It’s crucial to provide the police officers with the information they need to determine the cause and specifics of the accident when you communicate with them. However, when giving the police your account of events, it’s best to only disclose anything that you are confident about.

The following information shared with the responding police officers can help strengthen your case:

  • The specific date, time, and location of the collision
  • Contact details of all parties involved, including their names and phone numbers. If someone else is the vehicle owner, the officer may require the owner’s information.
  • Vehicle registration details
  • Accounts of the incident from both involved parties
  • Testimonies from any witnesses who witnessed the accident
  • The direction of travel for each vehicle
  • The speeds at which the involved parties were driving
  • Use of indicators, such as activating hazard lights
  • Your observations, including any signs of reckless driving
  • Weather and road conditions at the time of the accident
  • Any injuries sustained

Request a Copy of the Accident Report

Notifying law enforcement regarding an accident is essential to ensure that everyone involved receives the support and legal protection they need. The police report is an official record of the events leading up to and including the accident. Often, they are significant proof to justify a car accident claim since they provide comprehensive details about the crash.

So, take note of the responding officer’s name, badge number, department, and incident report number, if available. These details will be beneficial when requesting a copy of the accident report as the legal process progresses. 

Don’ts When Reporting a Car Accident

Share Unnecessary Information.

If you have to give the police any information for the accident report, there are also things you should refrain from saying or doing to keep your record clean with the authorities. Remember that you should only stick to and mention details you are sure of. 

Aside from this, it would be best if you also refrain from sharing your emotions and opinions with the police, as they may use this against you. Instead, stay calm, cooperate, and share the facts you know. 

Admit Fault

Refrain from making any statements suggesting or acknowledging responsibility for the accident. Note that everything you say to the police will be considered when formulating their opinions about the case and developing the report. Simple expressions like “I apologize” could be misconstrued as an admission of fault.

So, it is best to avoid admitting fault and only answer the responding officer’s questions. 

Speculate and Argue

It is critical to avoid drawing conclusions or forming assumptions about the events leading up to the car accident. Stick to delivering information you know, as speculation may confuse matters.

Aside from this, stay calm and composed, regardless of the disagreements with the other individuals involved. Arguments with authorities or other drivers can heighten tensions and worsen the situation. It is best to approach interactions with a calm demeanor and avoid confrontation.

While it’s generally advisable to inform the police about a car accident, it’s essential to consider certain factors when talking to the police. Occasionally, the police report drafted by the attending officer might not align with your version of events. Hence, it is essential to hire a car accident lawyer who can gather evidence and prove liability to defend your case, even if the police report is unfavorable to you.

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