Under certain circumstances, the law requires you to call the police from an accident scene and file a police report. In other cases, you may not have to notify the police – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Notifying the police even in a minor car accident can expedite the process, identify who was at fault, and help you in the future should you need to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you’re involved in a small car accident, know what to do and when to call the police.
Car Accidents Law in California
In California, the law mandates that all drivers involved in an accident must stop, no matter how minor the accident was. Drivers must stop even in a slight fender bender that doesn’t seem to have caused much damage. Whether the accident involved a stationary object, moving vehicle, pedestrian, or someone else’s property, you have the legal obligation to stop and exchange information with the other party. Driving away leads to a hit and run charge, which comes with worse penalties than a standard accident.
Once your vehicle collides with something else, you must stop and you should notify the California Highway Patrol or local police. Dial 9-1-1 or the non-emergency number for police in California, 1-(877)-275-5273. If the accident caused a death or injury, you must call the police. Without an injury, the law technically does not require you to notify the police. However, insurance companies and personal injury attorneys recommend you always call the police no matter how minor the accident was for your own protection.
When to Call the Police After an Auto Accident
When a motor vehicle accident results in personal injury, it’s in both parties’ best interest to notify the police. If the person you hit complains of neck or back injury, this could be a red flag for an impending lawsuit. Calling the police ensures a fair and balanced report of the cause of the accident that attorneys can use a reference later. Keep a copy of the police report for your own insurance claim.
If damages in an accident appear to exceed $1,000, it’s best to call the police. It doesn’t take a major collision to rack up $1,000 in repair costs, especially if it involves a newer model vehicle. Calling the police when there are damages gives your insurance company a clear pictures of how the accident happened and what percentage you were at fault for causing the property damage. It can also help compensate you for your own vehicle’s damage if someone else was at fault. If you don’t know the extent of injury or damage in a minor accident, it’s always better to be safe and call the police.
How Calling the Police Can Help You
Many people in minor car accident believe it’s easier and in their best interest to leave the police out of it. If someone else caused the accident, he or she will likely try to persuade you to leave the police out of it and settle things between yourselves, with or without insurance companies. This is never the best course of action, since this can result in you having no official police report of your accident. If the other driver gives you incorrect information, you may never be able to obtain compensation or file an insurance claim.
When in doubt in a car accident, call the police. They are here to help accident victims, not to simply place blame and issue tickets. If you have to file a personal injury claim for your injuries in the future, a police report serves as hard evidence outlining the details of the accident. Even a minor accident can result in property damage and personal injury.
Get a Top Notch San Bernardino Car Accident Lawyer on Your Side
Once you’ve contacted the police, contact an experienced accident attorney in San Bernardino at Estey & Bomberger, LLP for a free case consultation. They are here to help! Call today at 951-543-9020.