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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, usually a sure sign of fault, in their opinion, you shoulder some or all the blame due to your sudden stop.
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.
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.
Could the Accident Have Caused Not-Yet-Apparent Injuries?
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. If you do this, 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 call into question your claim that such a minor accident caused your injuries.
Have More Questions About Your Car Accident?
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