Most people know that the first thing you should do after a crash is report a car accident to the police. However, what are you supposed to do if the police don’t show up? Read on for some essential tips that will help you protect your claims after an accident—if the police don’t arrive to document what actually happened.
Why would law enforcement ignore my request to come to the scene?
There are a number of reasons police might not be able to come to the scene to complete an accident report. First and most importantly, they may be busy with more serious criminal matters. Although we like to think of law enforcement always being ready when we call, the truth is that sometimes even they have to prioritize.
The fact that the accident was minor may lead police to pass on the call if there is something more serious demanding their attention. Sometimes major weather events, like a hurricane, can also pull officers away from responding to auto accidents.
What is a Police Report?
A police report is an official account of what happened in a traffic accident. Not only will it contain information about all the drivers and passengers, but it will also have information about weather and road conditions when the accident occurred. Sometimes law enforcement will include witness statements and photographs.
Should I do anything differently at the scene of an accident if I know the police aren’t coming?
You don’t necessarily have to do anything differently if law enforcement doesn’t show up at the scene of your accident, but the things you should usually do become a lot more important. Police reports often provide neutral evidence of what happened in the accident, so if you will not have an officer to make that determination it’s especially important that you gather as much information as possible.
If it becomes clear to you that law enforcement won’t be responding, carefully gather as much evidence as you can. In addition to getting witness names and phone numbers, you might consider recording their statement about what happened in the accident or even your own. This will help show what happened immediately after the accident occurred.
You will also need to be very vigilant about documenting the scene of the accident and getting information about everyone who was involved. If you trust a driver who admits he hit you to write down his phone number so you can work it out without insurance, it’s a good idea to call the number immediately and make sure it is accurate. Sometimes stories about who is at fault will change over time and you want the evidence you’ve gathered at the scene to show the truth of what happened.
Can I Report An Accident to Police After the Fact?
Yes! Even if law enforcement isn’t able to come to the scene and make a report based on that, you can still go to your nearest police station and request a report. Some places even let you file a police report online. If you aren’t sure how to file a police report, just call your local non-emergency number and ask about your options.
Every jurisdiction handles car accident reporting differently, but in some states you are required to make a report to law enforcement and/or the DMV if someone is injured or the damage exceeds a certain amount. If you get into an accident while traveling, it’s a good idea to check the laws of the state where the crash occurred to make sure you are in compliance.
You should also report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Many people don’t realize that you can make a car insurance claim without police report. You may have to work a little harder to prove the facts of your claim, but if you aren’t at fault your insurance company will want to help you prove that.
Are police reports public?
Like most legal matters, the answer is “it depends.” In most jurisdictions anyone can request a specific police report, but they are not “public” the way other papers filed with a court usually are. Some jurisdictions allow you to request police reports online, but even in those states the full reports are not published to the general public.
Have you been injured in an accident but didn’t get a police report?
If you’ve been injured in an accident where the police didn’t show up or you didn’t file a police report, contact us for a free case evaluation. We work on a contingency-fee basis. You may be eligible to file a claim for medical costs, emotional distress and further damages. Fill out our free case evaluation form to see if you are eligible for a claim. An experienced auto accident attorney at Morris Bart will assist you in the evaluation process. Initial consultations are free. We have office locations throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. Call us at 1-800-537-8185 today!