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When do I need to call the police after a car accident?


Car accidents can happen to even the best drivers. One moment you're driving along, perhaps mentally reviewing the schedule for a meeting at work or even humming mindlessly to yourself when all of a sudden “crunch.” Perhaps the car in front of you stopped unexpectedly, and you simply couldn't break soon enough to avoid rear-ending it. You might have had to swerve suddenly to avoid debris in the roadway and accidentally swerved into the car next to you. A car might have run a red light or a stop sign and smashed into yours.

Whatever the reason, getting in an accident can make it hard to think rationally. In the direct aftermath, emotions run high. Adrenaline surges and ebbs leaving you jittery, weak and sometimes unable to think clearly. It's common to wonder if you need to get the police involved. It's especially common to wonder when you believe the accident was your fault.

If the incident was extremely minor, say you accidentally backed into an empty parked car while you were backing out of your space in the supermarket and merely scratched off a little paint, you probably don't need to involve the police. You have nothing to lose by calling them, but odds are good they will tell you they don't need to come out to the scene.

If there has been serious property damage to either car and especially if someone has been injured, the police need to be called. Even if someone is claiming to be fine but is showing signs of potential injury like consistently rubbing his back or neck, it is wise to call the police. Once they arrive, politely request that they write up and file a formal report of the accident.

The report will contain information such as the date, time and conditions under which the accident occurred. A police report can also go a long way toward proving liability, a potentially crucial piece of information when it comes time to submit a claim with the insurance company.

Insurance companies love taking money, but they are somewhat loath to part with it. Even if you have been in a relatively minor accident, you may be entitled to compensation beyond what the insurance company is initially prepared to offer. If you choose to consult with a personal injury attorney to see if you are eligible for additionalcompensation, a police report can prove to be an invaluable tool.