Why Should You Always Call the Police after a Crash?

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It’s always good to know beforehand what to do if you’re ever in a vehicle accident, to protect your health and legal position. Many circumstances require you to call the police immediately. The primary exception is if the accident is minor with virtually no property damage and there are no injuries.

Otherwise, call 911. But take a moment to first get your bearings. Are you injured? Are others in your or other vehicles hurt? If you’re injured, remain still, calm, and tell the emergency operator (or anyone in or around your vehicle) to call an ambulance. If you are unsure whether you’re injured, it might be due to a post-accident adrenaline rush. You may not have a true understanding
of your injuries, and certainly not how you’ll feel a day so later. So tell the 911 operator you’re uncertain and let them decide. Most often they’ll summon the EMTs.

If you’re injured at the scene, go to the emergency room and report all of your injuries to the ER doctor. If you feel pain a day or two later, go to your doctor and report everything. Follow the doctor(s) prescribed treatment. Your health is most important.

Police will fill out an accident report, and you are entitled to a copy of it once the report is filed at the station. They also take down information on all involved drivers, their addresses, and insurance companies, all of which is necessary information to you when moving forward.

If you talk to the other driver before the police arrive, you, of course, should ask if they are injured or need an ambulance. However, do not admit fault for the accident, because you simply may not be at fault. And don’t be drawn into conversations about that.

Driver Resistance to Calling Police and Other Issues

If you feel the accident is the other driver’s fault, but he or she doesn't want you to call the police, ignore them and make the call. Other drivers might argue that if no one is hurt, all that's needed is an exchange of insurance and personal information. But later, when insurance companies get involved, they may try to make a case that their driver was not at fault, or subsequent facts that come to light might make them question their fault or shift it onto you.

Some police departments may choose not to respond to a minor accident if no one is hurt. But let them decide. Should the police not respond, ask the dispatcher for advice if you need it. Then gather as much information as you can. Take pictures, and as soon as possible, go to the nearest police station in the community where the accident occurred and file one yourself. Accident reports lend credence to your claims, along with the good information you get at the scene, especially if you get witness statements. Here’s a list of information you should exchange with the other driver(s).

Without a police report and/or witness statements, you may experience these unpleasant events:

• Delay in recovering damages – Not all damage to cars or people is apparent at the scene of the accident.
• Future liability disputes – Even if you and the other driver (or passengers) initially agree about what caused the accident, will they agree later? Any police report is powerful evidence should there be a future dispute.

A police report may also expedite your insurance claim process. Try to immediately notify your insurance agent of the accident -- ideally, from the scene if it’s practical.

Terry Bryant is a Board Certified personal injury attorney and former judge in Houston, TX. His firm, Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, represents clients across Texas in all types of personal injury cases, including workplace injury claims.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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