Do Minor Vehicle Accidents Need to Be Reported?
If you are involved in a minor vehicle accident, it is important to know whether you must report the incident to law enforcement authorities. This decision depends upon several factors, including where the accident occurred, what type of insurance coverage applies, and whether there are injuries or damage to property. If you do choose to file a police report, you'll want to make sure you follow up with an attorney as soon as possible. We help our clients understand how to handle their cases effectively and efficiently.
The next time you're involved in a vehicle accident, it might be smart to ask yourself some simple questions about how the crash occurred. You could save money and hassle down the road by knowing what happened.
Here are five things to consider:
- Was there physical contact? If so, did one driver hit another vehicle? Did someone fall off their bike into the street? Or maybe a pedestrian was struck by a motorist.
- Were both drivers legally insured? This is important because insurance companies use information gathered during an investigation to determine whether to pay claims.
- What type of damage was done to each vehicle? Sometimes collisions don't look like much. But sometimes a fender bender leaves behind dents or scratches that require repair.
- How many people were injured? A single injury can be devastating, especially if it involves a child. However, multiple injuries can be costly to treat.
- Who was responsible for paying the medical bills? In cases where only one person sustained injuries, it can be difficult to track down who is liable for payment. But if multiple parties were hurt, determining who pays can be easier.
If you are involved in an accident where another person sustains injuries, it is very important to know whether to call 911 immediately. This decision is often difficult because there are many factors that go into determining what type of accident you were involved in. In addition to knowing whether you caused the accident, you must determine whether you are legally obligated to report the incident.
Many states require drivers to report any accident that occurs within their jurisdiction. However, even if you are not required to report the accident, you still should call 9-1-1. First, it is best to make sure that no one was hurt. Second, you never know how helpful police officers might be in helping you resolve your case later. Finally, even if you did cause the accident, calling 9-1-1 could prevent you from being charged criminally.
The following list provides examples of situations where reporting the accident is mandatory under state law:
- An accident that causes property damage of $1,000 or more
- An accident that injures someone
- A hit-and-run accident
- An accident that occurred while driving under the influence of alcohol
People who are involved in a minor collisions often try to avoid reporting those types of accidents to their auto insurance companies for two reasons. First, drivers assume that their insurance rates will go up because they think that the other party might be responsible for the accident. Second, people assume that it's possible to work things out between themselves and the other driver without involving their insurance companies. However, both assumptions are wrong.
Let's say you're driving along and you see another car parked across the street. You notice that there seems to be some sort of problem with the vehicle, so you pull over to check it out. When you approach the other car, however, you realize that the person inside isn't looking at you; he's looking straight ahead. As you start to ask him about the problem, you notice that he looks really stressed out and distracted. He doesn't seem interested in talking to you, either. So, you decide to move on.
A few minutes later, you hear a loud thud behind you. You look back to see that the car door is open and the other driver is standing outside the car. She appears to be upset and confused, and her eyes are wide open. She says something like, "I'm sorry," and then walks away.
What do you do next? Do you call 911? If you don't want to involve your insurance company, how do you handle the situation?
The answer is pretty simple. Every state law in America requires drivers to immediately report any type of accident to their insurance companies. And, even if the other driver agrees to pay for the damages, the fact that you didn't notify your insurance company could cause problems down the road. For example, let's say you agree with your fellow driver that you won't file insurance claims against each other, but the other driver decides that she wants to make sure that the damage is actually as bad as she thought. What happens if she finds out that the damage was worse than she originally assumed?
If you fail to report an accident to the authorities, you could face serious consequences. In addition, failing to report an accident could lead to increased premiums or even cancellation of your insurance policy.
If someone crashes into another vehicle, causing no injuries or major property damage, you don't necessarily need to call the police. However, some states require drivers involved in such incidents to do so. In those cases, the driver involved must immediately stop his or her vehicle and remain present while the crash is investigated.
In addition, most states require drivers to provide authorities with information about the incident, including the name of the person(s) involved, contact information, insurance information, registration number, and the location where the crash occurred.
States differ on whether they'll respond to minor collisions. Some won't send officers out unless there are serious injuries or major damage. Others will investigate even if there are no injuries or minimal damage.
Regardless of whether or not you're required to call the police, filing a report with your local law enforcement agency can serve several purposes. For example, if you're involved in a collision, you can use the report to request reimbursement for damages. You can also check the status of your case online, find out how much your insurer pays for claims like yours, and learn about your legal options.
An experienced vehicle accident lawyer in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, knows how to navigate the court system and help you recover compensation. Contact us today at www.thorntonesquirelawgroup.com for a free consultation.