UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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There are hundreds of minor auto accidents that happen each day throughout the United States. Many of these accidents result in no injuries and very little to no damage to the vehicles involved. At times the damage to the car is just a scratch or a dent, simply cosmetic flaws that may not make sense to fix. When these types of minor car accidents occur, many people wonder if they need to file a police report or if they even need to be reported to your car insurance company.
Many people think that when they are involved in a minor accident that a police report is not necessary. However, if you are planning to seek any type of compensation from the accident, filing a police report will strengthen your case.
Injuries and Damage
When involved in any type of vehicle accident it is important to remember that not all injuries will present immediate symptoms. It is possible that you feel fine after the accident only to start experiencing pain and other symptoms later on. If a police report is filed and your condition was documented it will be easier to seek compensation.
The same can be said about the damage to your vehicle. While your car may appear fine, you may discover damage after you leave the accident. Filing a police report will provide you with evidence to help recover expenses if damages to your vehicle are discovered. Overall, filing a police report for any type of accident no matter how big or small is a good way to protect yourself.
Importance of Police Reports
In addition to providing evidence of an accident, a police report provides an unbiased third party report about the accident. This can be more effective evidence than what is simply hearsay or the retelling of the story by either you or the other person involved in the accident.
Another important reason to file a police report is because they are required by insurance companies if a personal injury lawsuit is filed.
Information provided in a police report includes:
- Location where the accident happened
- Date and the time the accident occurred
- Damage to the cars that were involved in the accident
- Statements from both drivers as well as any person that witnessed the accident
The evidence provided by a police report will help support your injury or vehicle damage claims and will make it much more likely that you will be reimbursed.
How to File a Police Report
There are several steps to take after being involved in an accident in order to file a police report. First, you will need to phone the police from the area as soon as possible after the accident occurs. Next, when the police arrive you will discuss the details of the accident with one of the police officers that arrives at the scene. The police officer will interview you, the other driver, as well as any other witnesses who viewed the accident in order to determine what happened.
Once the police report is filed it is important to make sure that you obtain a copy of the report. You will need to send a copy of the police report to your insurance company.
Do You Need to Report the Accident to your Car Insurance Company?
If you are involved in a car accident of any type you are contractually obligated to report the accident to your insurance provider. Almost every car insurance policy contains a contract clause that requires any and all types of accidents to the insurance company. However, the contract clause is hard for insurance companies to enforce in all situations. If there are no injuries and no real damage to the vehicles, you and the other driver involved in the accident may not call the police to investigate. If a police report is filed, many police precincts do not forward the police report to the driver’s insurance company. With this being said, in most cases, even in a minor accident, you should probably report the accident to your insurance company in case you need to get repairs done.
When it comes to filing a police report after an accident it is important to know what your state laws require. Each state has different requirements for drivers after being involved in an accident.
The state laws will vary based on the type of accident that has occurred as well as where the accident occurred. For example, if you are in a parking lot and you hit an unattended vehicle many states require that you stay with the vehicle until the owner can be located. If you cannot locate the owner of the vehicle you are required to leave a note with your personal information about the incident.
There are some states that do not require a police report if a minor accident occurs in a parking lot. Typically these accidents are minor and the people involved know who was at fault and all of the details of the incident can be worked out between the two parties.
If an accident occurs on the street or a highway, police reports are often required. Even if the accident is minor and both drivers can walk away from the incident, the police may be required in order to help determine fault as well as help with any traffic issues that may arise as a result of the accident.
Overall, filing a police report after any type of accident is typically a good idea. The main reason for this is because it provides evidence for the individual as well as the insurance company should any compensation for personal injuries or damages to the vehicles become an issue. Even if the accident is minor, it is still a good idea to get the police report in order to have some evidence to use in the future if it becomes necessary.