Every time a driver gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, they're at risk of being involved in one of the approximately 10 million car accidents that occur in the United States each year. While some of these accidents result in serious injuries, extensive property damage, and even fatalities, others are what most people would refer to as “fender benders” – crashes in which property damage is minor.
People who've been involved in minor crashes often question whether it's necessary—or even worth the hassle—to report the accident to law enforcement. Don't be fooled into believing that everything will be okay and the insurance company will take care of the damages. It's almost always a good idea to at least report a car accident to the police, even if the police decide not to come to the scene of the collision. In some instances, California drivers may be legally required to report the accident to be able to make a claim to their insurance company, such as in a hit and run situation.
California law requires drivers to report accidents to law enforcement if there are any injuries or if the property damage sustained in the crash is expected to cost more than $1,000 to repair. In the absence of feeling injuries at the scene of the collision, accident victims may think they're in the clear. However, even seemingly minor auto body damage can be expensive to repair, and it's not unusual for just a few dents and dings to result in repair bills exceeding $1,000. Also, injuries from these impacts that cause a lot of visible damage can still result in serious injuries that develop in the days, weeks and months following the collision.
Reporting an accident to law enforcement also gives victims an official document for use at a later time. There are some downsides with a police report as well. Sometimes, an investigating officer makes a determination of fault for the collision, and that determination is wrong. If this happens, then an injury victim may want to submit a supplemental report to correct the errors in the report, such as a wrong statement attributed to the injured party or some other error. If a police accident report is prepared, make sure you get a copy as soon as it is prepared. This report may come in handy if the accident turns out to have been more serious than originally thought, or there is a dispute as to liability for the collision. For example, some car accident injuries can take days or longer to develop, which also underscores the importance of seeking immediate medical attention after a seemingly minor crash.
Were You Involved in an Accident?
If you were involved in an automobile collision, report the crash to law enforcement, even if it seems relatively minor. Not all collisions will get the attention of law enforcement, but you will have done your part in reporting the collision. This may make it easier to pursue a personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit, if necessary. Also, understanding all your options after an accident is just as important. The skilled attorneys with the Inland Empire Law Group can help. Contact us today at (888) 694-3529 or (909) 481-0100 to schedule a free initial telephone or in person consultation to discuss the details of your case.