“This is 9-1-1. What’s your emergency?”
“I backed into my neighbor’s car.”
It can seem kind of silly to call the police after getting into a fender bender or other small accident where nobody is hurt, but notifying the authorities is always important.
Even if you do not think you are seriously injured, you may not be thinking clearly after an accident. You could be in shock because you are injured and do not know it, or you might just be really angry. Calling 9-1-1 means someone who is trained to handle trauma will be at the scene to help everyone stay safe and make better decisions.
The dispatcher or the responding officer may decide to call an ambulance or a hazmat team to the scene of an accident that the parties involved thought was minor.
Be Careful Who You Trust
If the other party is insisting that you do not call the police you should be immediately suspicious. What are they trying to hide? Have they been drinking? Is there a warrant out for their arrest? Is the car they are driving stolen?
Many serious crimes are solved because the perpetrator got into an accident or got pulled over for violating a traffic law.
Investigate & Document
From an I’m-going-to-sue-the-other-driver perspective, it is important to call the cops to even the most minor accidents because the “smoking gun” in many car accident lawsuits is the police report.
The incident report prepared by the responding officer may contain some or all of the following information:
- The date, time, and location of the accident.
- Contact information and insurance information for all of the people involved in the accident.
- The names and contact information of witnesses.
- A summary of the statements provided by the parties and the witnesses.
- Information about the scene of the accident – including the condition of the road, the weather, and the lighting in the area.
- A description of the damage done to the vehicles involved in the accident.
- The officer may also take pictures of the scene and the damage.
- A diagram of the accident.
- Information about any tickets or warnings given out.
- It is also possible that the police report will contain the officer’s opinion on who was at fault.
The report and all of the evidence in it is often what we use to convince the other party, the insurance companies, and the judge that our client deserves compensation.
It’s The Law
In many states, including New Jersey, the law requires you to contact the police when an accident has occurred. Under New Jersey law, you must report any vehicle accident that results in injury or death, or that causes more than $500 in property damage. This cost threshold has not been adjusted in quite some time, so with the way today’s cars are made, even the slightest amount of damage is going to put you over that $500 limit.
The next time you are in a car accident, even if you don’t think it is serious, call the police right away.
Posted in: Car Accidents