If you’re ever in a car accident, one of the most important steps to take in the aftermath is to call the police.
Especially with minor crashes, it may be tempting to neglect the police and resolve the situation just between you and the other driver.
Doing this is a huge mistake because law enforcement is an invaluable resource during a crash. If you hope to make a claim or receive compensation from the other driver’s insurance, you’ll need the police to show up to give your story credibility.
This is particularly important because injuries like whiplash and concussions aren’t fully observable for days. Failing to involve the police can leave you on the hook financially for those wounds.
Law enforcement serves many roles after an accident. To help you understand their importance, we’ll outline why they’re needed below.
One great benefit of having the police on the scene is to provide mediation between you and the other driver.
When a crash happens, it is extremely shocking and scary. After the initial shock fades, it’s easy to become angry and upset at the other driver. Alternatively, they may be aggressive toward you.
Regardless of who caused the crash, you don’t want to escalate the situation into physical violence. You never know what the other driver may do.
Police officers are perfect here because they will communicate with the other party for you. Furthermore, they have the authority to encourage the other driver to give their information without a struggle.
With a cop on the scene, they will protect you from the other party and ensure that you get the information you need. This makes them a must-call for any accident you are involved in.
Accurately Documenting the Accident
While the police are there, they can accurately document the accident to verify how and when it happened.
If you don’t call the cops after an accident, there is no proof that the crash ever happened. The problem here is that you’ll need proof of the accident happening if you want to pursue a claim or compensation.
Alternatively, the other driver can immediately call their insurance company and report the accident with you at fault for the crash. This can lead to you being liable for the damage they caused.
Fortunately, a police officer eliminates this risk. The officer that arrives will take input from both parties and collect personal information. They will also take notes about the accident scene for an impartial perspective.
Because of this, a police officer is essential to reducing your liability and protecting your rights in a crash.
Generating a Police Accident Report
What results from the documentation of the accident is a formalized police accident report.
This is typically created a few hours or days after the accident happens. It draws from the notes the officer took at the scene and will include a determination as to who caused the crash.
Should the other driver be at fault, then hopefully, the officer indicated that. This will make it much easier to pursue a claim because you have authoritative backing.
Almost any insurance company will require a copy of the police report when filing a claim. Without one, they can deny your claim and feign ignorance, leaving you unable to dispute the accident.
Calling the police guarantees a police report and therefore gives you more credibility when making your claim.
Complying With Legal Requirements
A final consideration here is that some accidents require the assistance of the police. Because of this, involving them may be legally necessary.
The specific laws regarding calling the police after a crash vary by state, but a few general guidelines are relatively similar.
In particular, crashes that involve injuries, death, more than minor damage to either vehicle or more than a few hundred in property damage require law enforcement.
As you can see, it doesn’t take much to make calling the police mandatory for an accident. Only minor fender benders and bumps are legally passable, but even those would benefit from a police officer.
Taking this information into account, always call the police after a crash to ensure you aren’t violating the law.
Involving the police in a car accident may seem like a hassle, but they do more good than bad. Police officers are essential for protecting both parties and formally recording the accident.
In particular, law enforcement serves a few beneficial purposes in an accident. This includes providing mediation, accurately documenting the scene, and generating a police accident report. Remember that contacting the police is legally required for anything more than a minor crash.
Car crashes are traumatic experiences and the last thing you need is a stressful claim process. Protect yourself by calling the police to have a third party manage the scene of an accident!