I was in a car accident—do I HAVE to call the police?
Put simply, you do not have to call the authorities for most car accidents, particularly minor ones. The fact is that calling the police usually depends on how serious the injuries are and how extensive the property damage is. Even if you do not need to call the police to the scene of the accident, you should call them within one day of the accident.
When to Call or Not to Call
For the majority of accidents where no fatality or severe injury resulted, you should first evaluate the situation before calling the authorities. Move the vehicles to the side of the road if you are not too injured to do so. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries before dong the same for the other vehicle involved. Call the police and an ambulance right away if anyone has been injured.
Next, take a look at your vehicle to see how extensive the damage is. You aren’t obligated to call the police immediately for small scratches or dents unless you and the other driver cannot come to agree to operate through your insurers. Damages valued at $1,000 or more should be reported to the police.
You and the other driver(s) may be able to come to a mutual understanding if the injuries and damage are very minor. This can be done fairly easily through your insurance companies. You must still file a report to the police prior to pursuing a claim for damages, however.
For fatal accidents, you are obligated to call on the police or leave yourself vulnerable to criminal charges, even if you were not at fault for the accident. For serious injuries, it is also in your best interests to call the police and obtain a report of the accident.
Make sure to call the authorities if:
- The accident is tantamount to a hit-and-run
- The other driver appears to be intoxicated or was driving exceptionally negligently
- The other driver becomes aggressive or belligerent upon speaking with you
What do I do when I need to call the police?
In the event that you do call the authorities, simply tell them an accident has taken place and given them your name and the location of the accident. Stay calm on the phone and be polite.
As the police are en route to the scene, take down the other driver’s name, address, and phone number in addition to their car’s make, model, license plate number, and finally the drivers licenses number, name and phone number of their insurer. This information is extremely vital in filing a claim for compensation. Also important are any photos or videos of the accident scene, your injuries, and damage to your vehicle which can all be incorporated into your personal injury claim.
Once the police have arrived, you do not have to admit to any fault, even if you believe you were at fault. Do not place blame on anyone for the incident, just report to them the facts of the accident. Answer any questions they will have for you honestly and politely. Make sure you get the name, badge number, cell phone number, and accident report number from the police before they leave.
After all this, make sure you call a highly-qualified Los Angeles car accident attorney. The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani can inform you of what your rights are and exactly how to proceed with a personal injury claim.
Call (888) 952-2952 to speak with the firm and set up a case evaluation at no cost to you.