If you’re in a car accident, it can be a stressful, overwhelming time. However, legal issues can arise much later.
There may be a time where you need a copy of your accident report that you aren’t even thinking about when you’re actually in the accident.
The following are reasons why it’s important to file an accident report after a car crash, even if it seems very minor.
Are You Legally Required to Report Minor Accidents?
There isn’t a yes or no answer to whether or not you’re required to file a police report for minor accidents. The differences vary depending on the state you live in, and the situation surrounding your particular accident.
Most states do require that you report any accident where there’s an injury. In some states, you have to report an accident even if there’s only vehicle damage, and in other states, you’re only required to report an accident if the damage is over a certain amount.
You are required in every state to exchange information with the other driver if there is one involved in the accident with you.
If the other driver won’t give you their contact information or you think they don’t have insurance, you should contact law enforcement.
Even if you think the other driver involved in an accident seems cooperative, you might still want to get assistance from law enforcement.
Then, an investigating officer will come to the scene, and they can record the circumstances of the accident and get interviews with the involved drivers and any witnesses.
File a Report Even Though You Might Not Be Legally Required
Even though you might not legally have to do it, it’s still always a good idea to contact law enforcement after any accident to file a report. You don’t know how a person will act after they leave the scene of an accident, and you may have no way of verifying that the information they give you is correct.
What so many people don’t realize too is that they may experience medical symptoms or pain well after the accident, and they might have no recourse at that point if they don’t file a report.
You might think you weren’t injured, and then weeks later you realize you were. The other driver could then, in the absence of the report, say the accident never happened. At that point, without an official report, it’s your word against the word of the other driver.
If You File a Report, Do You Have to Make a Claim?
If you do file a police report, that doesn’t mean you are making an insurance claim or that you have to.
The report itself is just a record that the incident occurred. It doesn’t mean you’re committed to filing a claim at all.
One of the big reasons people fail to get a report in a minor collision is because they think their insurance rates will increase, but what can actually end up happening if you don’t report it is that you have to pay more later on.
Police May Not Be Available
There is another situation you may run into if you’re in an accident. You might contact law enforcement and they might not come to the scene of the accident.
In some states, law enforcement won’t respond if the value of the property damage is too low. If you are worried about possible injuries or other specific things, you should let the police know about these issues when you call the accident in so they’ll better be able to decide if they’re going to come.
The police may also decide not to come if there are no injuries, or if there’s something else going on like a public emergency or a weather situation that prevents them from doing so.
Just make sure that you call the police anyway in these cases, and let them decide whether or not they’ll come.
If the police don’t come after you talk with them, you should try to gather as much information as possible on your own. For example, find witnesses if you can, take pictures, and record the scene with your phone, and then you can file your report with the police.
If the police don’t come, always file your own report.
Once you file a report, if you do so with an officer, get their direct contact information. If you remember any important details after the fact, get in touch so they can add them to their report.