Generally, you should call the police if you were involved in a wreck, but it depends on a few factors.
One is the state in which your accident occurred. Most states, including Florida, have specific rules for when law enforcement must attend the scene of a car accident. If you find yourself in a car accident, whether it is a minor fender-bender or something more significant, ask yourself the following questions when deciding whether you should call the police.
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Does the Law Require Me to Call Police in This Particular Situation?
In Florida, the law is unambiguous on when you must get the police involved. Always call the police in any of the following situations:
- The accident involved bodily injury or death.
- The accident involved an intoxicated driver or a hit-and-run.
- The property damage from the accident appears to exceed $500.
When you get the police involved, you will not have to fill out an accident report later on. They will submit a report for you.
Is the Other Driver Being Cooperative?
Immediately after a car accident, assuming no serious injuries, it is standard practice to speak with the other driver, make sure all parties are okay, and exchange contact information.
If the other driver refuses to give their name or contact information, and you have reason to believe they might not have a valid license or car insurance, immediately stop trying to deal with them and call the police.
When you call the police to the scene of the accident, they can collect the other driver’s insurance information and include it in their report. This way, you will not have to deal directly with the other driver.
Why Are Some Drivers Hesitant to Involve the Police?
A driver who is uncooperative at the scene of the accident is probably going to be even less cooperative in the days and weeks that follow when you are trying to coordinate with your insurance companies to collect payment for damages.
They may lack any insurance coverage or have a warrant out for their arrest. If they pressure you to avoid calling the police, do not give in. There is a reason they are avoiding police involvement, and they may be willing to risk your losses to do so.
In situations like this, it is better to get the police involved from the beginning. That way, you get an official accident report to submit to the insurance companies and do not have to rely on the other driver’s cooperation.
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Is There a Dispute Over Fault?
Let’s pretend you hit your brakes to avoid a pedestrian jaywalking across the road, and the driver behind you fails to stop in time and strikes the back of your vehicle.
As you are exchanging contact information with the other driver, they mention that although they rear-ended you, you shoulder some or all the blame due to your sudden stop. Insurance adjusters can use this statement to undervalue or deny your claim.
When you mention the pedestrian, they shrug it off and act like the pedestrian was not a factor. Perhaps they claim the pedestrian should be responsible for all damages, but the pedestrian has left the scene.
A Police Report Can Provide Key Insight
Regardless of the specifics, what appeared to be a cut-and-dry situation at first glance is now a mess, and no one is on the same page about who was at fault. In this type of situation, you should get the police involved to investigate whether the law requires it or not.
When the police arrive on the scene, they will file a crash report that details their opinion of what happened. Insurance adjusters will have to take this information into account when reviewing your claim. Such evidence can help level the playing field and avoid a he-said-she-said situation.
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Could the Accident Have Caused Injuries That Are Not Yet Apparent?
Even if neither driver appears injured, some injuries are not apparent right away. This is another situation where you should err on the side of caution. If you think you suffered an injury, you should get medical attention.
A doctor can assess your injuries and provide documentation that helps us link them to your accident. Medical records can also give us an idea of how much compensation you stand to recover. Remember, some injuries cause ongoing complications, and you may require long-term medical care.
You will want your settlement or verdict to reflect the cost of any future medical treatments you need. Additionally, forgoing medical care can give an insurer fodder to undervalue or deny your claim. They may argue you worsened your injuries. This is why it’s important to follow through with your doctor’s orders.
Even if you did not have to go to the emergency room, you should also get a police report to create a record that the accident occurred. Otherwise, the other driver might claim that the wreck never happened or undermine the extent of your injuries.
Try to Gather Other Form of Evidence If You Can
Another way to protect your rights to compensation is to collect any other forms of evidence you can. Take pictures of any vehicle damage and your injuries. Write down everything you remember about the accident, such as:
- The specific location
- The date
- The name of the other drivers involved
- A description of the other drivers’ vehicles
- What you felt, heard, and saw at the moment of the accident
This information can help when you give a statement to insurers. Our lawyers can also handle the communications with insurers and defense attorneys.
Have More Questions About Your Car Accident?
You deserve to focus on your health and recovery after a car accident. Hassling with insurers and legal paperwork can be exhausting. You do not have to fight for compensation alone. You have the right to hire an attorney who can assume all the responsibilities of your case.
We can investigate the cause of your accident, gather evidence of another party’s negligence, and fight for fair compensation. Get a free consultation with the attorneys at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine. Call us today at 1-800-747-3733.