Do I Need to Call the Police if I’m in an Accident?

cop car after calling the police

You may think that you should call 911 no matter what type of accident you’re in - and while most wrecks should involve the police - not all of them need to. Many times, police officers won’t even come to the scene if nobody is injured - this doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to open a personal injury case later! It’s incredibly common for injuries to show up a few days after a wreck. Pain and other symptoms don't always show up immediately. Sometimes you can't tell what's going on with your body until the adrenaline subsides.

Don't worry! If you were injured in an accident and the police didn’t arrive on the scene, you may still have a case. The three things that you need in order to make a successful personal injury case are:

  1. Injury - Were you injured to the extent that you need medical care?
  2. Negligence - Did someone other than you cause the accident?
  3. Insurance - Is there active insurance coverage either through the other driver or through your own insurance?

The other factors, such as the extent of medical treatment, whether or not the police arrived, and much more, will impact your case, but will not make or break your case. When in doubt, feel free to call an attorney for a free consultation!

Does it Hurt My Case if the Police Don’t Come?

This is a complicated question to answer. The truth is, yes and no. The first hurdle that your attorney needs to overcome in order to win your case is to address the issue of liability - who is at fault. When you’re involved in a wreck with someone else, the insurance company will have to investigate the events in order to determine who is at fault and whether or not their policy was active at the time of the crash. Their investigation will include interviews with the policyholder and driver, looking into the police report (if there is one), inspecting the vehicles involved, reviewing policy history, and more.

In most - if not all - auto insurance policies, their driver and their policyholder (if different people) must cooperate with their investigation. This means that they need to be responsive to calls and questions they receive. If they don’t cooperate with their insurance company, even though they may have caused the accident, the insurance company will try to get out of paying for your damages. If this happens, there are steps that can be taken to prove the facts of the wreck, despite the defendant’s lack of input. If you call the police, their report may help in this instance.

Additionally, an insurance company could deny liability if there isn't any objective evidence to support your version of what happened - i.e. if it is your word vs. the other driver's. The best way to try and overturn a word versus word liability determination is by finding evidence to support your claim. Evidence can include photos of the scene, dashcam footage, or statements by an independent witness who can corroborate what happened. Keep in mind, most insurance companies will not consider statements made by your passengers as persuasive evidence. They're going to assume that because you know them, they will be biased and cannot be trusted to be neutral party. But if someone else saw what happened and gave you their contact information, they may be able to help! Otherwise, a police report will sometimes list “contributing factors” to the wreck, including a driver, if the officer believes the driver caused the accident. A police report can be helpful in helping determine which version of events is accurate.

If the Police Don’t Come, What Should I Do?

So, what can you do if the police don’t come to the scene of the crash? There are steps that you can take to ensure that you're protected. First, exchange information. Not just auto policy information, but driver’s licenses, addresses and phone numbers. Second, if time permits, have the defendant open a claim with his or her own insurance company. This will help expedite the process. Finally, document the scene! Take as many photos and videos as you can. Make sure you clearly know where and how the wreck happened. It’s also a good idea to write down a brief description of any conversations that were exchanged. Did the other person deny that he caused the accident? Did he or she have a valid license? Did he or she apologize? All of these factors may not matter, but it helps to have it written down, just in case your attorney needs it later on.

If you do feel that you need to call the police, don’t hesitate to get them involved. However, if you think that things can be handled without their involvement, make sure you take the appropriate steps to protect yourself. Located in Austin, Texas, we invite you to contact us today and speak to our accident attorneys for a free consultation.