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Why it’s important to call the police to come out for all auto accident scenes

June 27, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

call police at accident scene

Someone crashes into the back of another car, and then asks the other driver not to call the police because he or she will “take care of everything.” Or car damage seems minor. Or you don’t think you’re that hurt. Do you call the police in these scenerios? What happens when a car accident occurs on private property?

Many drivers, especially new and inexperienced drivers, are often uncertain about whether they should call the police to come out after a car accident. Some people aren’t sure  just how much vehicle damage warrants calling the police out to the scene of what might be at first considered a minor auto accident.

And then there is what I see all the time,  the at-fault drivers trying to pressure you to just let them pay cash for everything. Or when pressed, they might agree to exchange insurance information and drive off – without involving the police at all.

It may be the easiest solution, but not involving the police and having them come out after a car accident can certainly cost you.

Michigan law requires a written report to be filed if a car crash occurs on a public roadway and results in an injury or combined damage in excess of $1,000. But as an auto accident lawyer, it’s good legal advice to call the police to come out to an auto accident scene no matter how minimal the damage appears to be.

Here’s why:

  • Without an accident report on file, the other party can claim they were not at fault for causing the car accident, or they can deny the car accident ever took place.
  • Some auto insurance companies may deny your claim for No Fault insurance benefits without a police accident report on file. This means you will lose your right to No Fault wage loss  for up to three years, and coverage of your medical expenses and bills if you need medical treatment.
  • Without a police accident report, you will have no proof of fault for a mini tort claim to help get your car damage repaired.
  • Car damage that appears minimal may actually cost thousands depending on vehicle type and frame damage.
  • If it turns out you are injured more seriously than you at first think (which happens all the time with many whiplash and soft tissue injuries and disc injuries) and the other driver does not have liability bodily injury insurance, many insurance companies require a police report and a claim for uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage to be made within a certain period of time. Again, as an auto accident lawyer, I’ve seen some policies shorten this notice period to as short as 30 days, and as these are contractual policies, the courts in Michigan will sadly likely enforce the contract provisions as written.  That means if you did suffer a serious injury, you lose the right to recover any compensation for your injuries and pain and suffering damages.

Tips to protect yourself at the auto accident scene

  • Call the police for any accident: Call the  police to any accident when there is damage to any vehicle involved or injury to any person involved in the accident.
  • Do not take cash: Never agree to take cash from an at-fault driver to compensate you for your vehicle’s damage.
  • Get the at-fault driver’s information: Make sure you get all of the at-fault driver’s insurance information, contact information and drivers license number.
  • Take pictures: Take pictures with your cell phone of all vehicle damage, license plates and even pictures of the other person’s insurance information and drivers license.  Take that cell phone out of your pocket, and make sure to take a few pictures before the other driver takes off!

For more information, take a look at our lost of 7 things to do at the auto accident scene.

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2 Replies to “Why it’s important to call the police to come out for all auto accident scenes”

  1. Great advice after a car accident is a philosophy of some experienced law firm whether they are handling the case or not. This post is a perfect example, taking the time to provide information and being committed to help any local car accident victims. Police reports help to document a car accident as to each parties statement of fault, the police officers observations that may corroborate one version or the other, witness information, property damage, the vehicles being towed, and any injuries by the drivers or passengers. This pins the parties down as to what happened, hence if either changes their story they can be cross examined with the police report. Obtaining a police report is also a matter of credibility because it is what reasonable people do, hence the failure to even call the police after a car accident will be an issue repeatedly brought up in the car accident case. This is good information for clients injured in a car accident.
    The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C.

  2. Thank you for your comment. You make good points. It can be hard to say later that a car crash was so serious to require the filing of a lawsuit for personal injuries, when in fact both parties declined to call the police immediately after the crash. It happens, especially with brain injury claims and disc injuries where the injury is more of a process that occurs over hours and days than an immediate traumatic episode. But it is still hard for many juries to understand.

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