Police presence in all auto accident cases is dependent upon the state. Regardless of state policy, you should consider involving the police if your accident involved:
- A Hit and Run
- An Intoxicated Driver
- Death of Vehicle Occupants
- The Other Driver Refuses to Provide or Doesn’t Have Insurance
- The Other Driver Attempts to Convince You to Settle Privately
The police may not respond to an accident if the property damage was minor or no serious injury occurred, as they may have to prioritize other calls over yours. In this case, the dispatcher may be able to offer some advice on what you should do.
If officers respond to the scene, they can determine fault, document the scene, provide emergency medical care, protect the accident scene, and investigate the cause of the accident. After investigating and taking care of injuries, police officers will submit a police report. If officers respond to your accident, you must submit a copy of the official report with your insurance claim. A police report provides a neutral third party account of the accident; which will protect you from fraudulent statements made against you. If the police don’t respond to your accident, or you choose not to involve them, you should consider getting a neutral third-party account of the accident.
What You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You
Keep in mind, you need to be careful about the things you say at the scene of an accident. In the police report, officers write down statements from the involved parties and any witnesses. If they hear you admit guilt, it may be included in their report. Admittance of guilt may cause you to forfeit your right to make a claim against the other driver, even if they were at fault.
What if the Police are not Available?
In the case that the police are delayed or unable to respond, begin gathering evidence to build your case for your insurance claim.
Evidence to Gather From an Accident:
- Contact Information of the Other Driver
- Their Insurance Provider and Policy Number *
- Photographs of the accident
- Write Detailed Notes
- Interview Any Witnesses and Gather Their Contact Information
*Ensure that the insurance card VIN number matches the VIN number on the vehicle to avoid insurance fraud.
If the Police Don’t Show up, Do I Still Need to File a Report?
Not necessarily, a police report can speed up the claim process, but insurance companies can perform their own investigations.
Some insurance companies assign a time limit for you to file your claim. If you exceed a certain time period, your claim will be considered void, regardless of the availability of a police report. Some states require a police report for every auto accident exceeding $1,000 in damage or involving a hit and run.
If the police do not show up at the scene of your accident, you should file a report at your local police station as soon as you can. Filing a police report becomes your responsibility when officers are unavailable. Whether or not the police file the report, or you report the accident, you must request the report number and submit it to your insurance company for their review.