Getting into a car wreck is always an unpleasant and stressful situation. The smallest fender benders have us shaken up, annoyed and worried about what happens next. The best way to combat this is to have a plan of action in case you find yourself in an auto accident. If people are injured at the scene, the first course of action is always to call 911 and attend to the wounded. If no one has been physically harmed, your best bet is to call the local non-emergency number to get a police report filed.
Filing a police report is not always necessary. Laws that state when a police report must be filed vary from state to state. Generally, a police report must be submitted on an auto-collision if persons are injured on the scene, or there is excessive damage to one or more vehicles. Car damage can add up quickly, so if you’re using duct-tape and zip ties to get a bumper back in place, you probably need to have a report filed. We recommend reporting every auto accident to police as some cases of car damage may become apparent after leaving the scene.
Even if both parties have only incurred some minor scratches, it is best to submit a police report for insurance purposes. A police report functions to solidify the details of an accident. Without it, the circumstance of the accident is only known by those involved. This can make dealing with insurance a long and arduous process.
In the best case scenario, insurance companies will take longer than normal to pay you for car damage without a police report. If both parties are not cooperating, insurance may find cause to not pay for your damages at all. In the worst case, lack of a police report may have you defending yourself in court against damages that you did not cause. Filing a police report ensures that all parties comply with their legal and personal responsibilities.
There is one situation where it may be in your best interest to avoid filing a police report. If you find yourself in a one-car accident, no one is injured, and damages are minor, filing a police report may be a waste of your time. A one-car accident will not have conflicting parties, so there’s no need to involve insurance if you’re willing to pay for the damages out of pocket.
Let’s say that you are riding in the passenger seat when your friend gets into a one-car accident. If you’re injured, it is the law to have the accident reported. But, sometimes injuries are not apparent until days later or are only visible during physical activity. Having a police report is almost always necessary to justify any medical claims incurred due to an auto accident. Make sure to have a police report filed, even if your friend insists otherwise.
It is always helpful to file a police report after an accident involving two or more parties. A report protects you legally, liability wise, and saves you time when dealing with an insurance company.