In the event that you are involved in a traffic accident it is important that you are prepared for how best to handle the situation. Being involved in an accident can be a very stressful and even traumatic experience. It is important to know that you have certain legal rules and obligations at the scene of an accident and having this understanding can help you be better prepared to appropriately handle the situation if it arises. Under certain circumstances, you are required by law to call the police and file a police report, for example.
Ensure that no one has any injuries
Depending on the circumstances of the accident injuries may or may not have occurred but it is important that all parties involved ensure that no one has injuries that require immediate attention. If anyone has sustained injuries that require attention you should first call 911 and report the accident so that professionals can get to the scene as quickly as possible.
When a personal injury has occurred as a result of the accident you should call the police immediately. The dispatcher who takes the call will notify the police and the officer at the scene of the accident will file a police report. You should get a copy of this police report for your insurance claim. If you are uncertain as to whether or not the situation is a true emergency, 911.gov recommends that you call 911 and the dispatcher who takes the call will be able to determine whether or not you need emergency help.
If you feel that the other driver has committed a motor vehicle violation that resulted in this accident and doesn’t want you to call the police you should ignore that request and call anyway. It is not uncommon for other drivers to suggest that no one is hurt so the police are not needed. When you call the police department they may decline to respond to a minor accident if no one is hurt, however, it’s a good idea to make the phone call and allow them to decide.
If the police decline to respond to the scene of the accident and you feel unsure about how to proceed you can discuss the situation with the dispatcher who will provide you with advice if you need it. If the police do not respond to the scene you should know that a police report will not be filed unless you report to a police station and file one yourself.
If no injuries have been sustained then the parties involved in the accident should exchange information. Having an officer at the scene of the accident may help expedite the exchange of information as well. When exchanging information it is important to obtain the following:
- Drivers license numbers are exchanged (if in possession or known)
- Vehicle license numbers
- Phone numbers of drivers, passengers, and witnesses
- Insurance company information
- Location of the accident
- Time of the accident
Filing a police report
In certain situations the police department will complete a traffic collision report, including:
- A person involved in the accident has been inured
- A fatality has occurred as a result of the accident
- One of the drivers involved in the accident is suspected of DUI
- Hit and run
- City property is involved
As mentioned, it is not uncommon for the police department to decline reporting to the scene of an accident in injuries have not been involved.
Speaking to the police
If the police arrive at the scene you should answer their questions truthfully but you are under no obligation to volunteer information unless they are asking for specific responses. With the stress of the accident you may feel compelled to accept responsibility for an accident that you were not to blame for. If you are not certain of your responsibility in the accident and are looking to resolve the matter without involving insurance companies it would be in your best interest to speak to an attorney, especially before signing anything. Failing to speak to an attorney or signing documents that you do not clearly understand can be extremely damaging.
If you have been involved in an accident you can contact us to schedule a free initial consultation to confidentially discuss the details of your case and be informed of your legal rights and obligations. Contact us today at (559) 222-5800.