Not Having The Police At A Car Accident Can Cost You


Car crash

As I mentioned in an earlier article, our new car got into an accident on our vacation driving down to Virginia. The weather had recently turned to rain.  We were driving along the highway below the speed limit making sure to keep a safe distance from the car in front.  Suddenly traffic slowed down so we did as well.  Then I saw it coming in the rear-view mirror – BAMM!!  We just got hit from behind. The force was enough to throw us forward.  I moved to avoid the car in front but ended up clipping his fender.  All three cars pulled off to the side of the road.  Thank goodness no one was hurt!  The kids were shaken up (heck, we were all shaken up) but we were OK.  I got out and assessed the damage.  Man I didn’t realize how bad we were hit.  Back door was crunched inward.  At first I couldn’t even open it.  Our front has a small dent as well.  The other two cars – scratches at best.  It was an SUV Oreo and our poor mini van was the creamy middle.

Still a bit frazzled from the accident the other two drivers and I began to exchange automobile insurance information.  The person who hit me was in a rush to leave.  He didn’t think we needed to call the police since no one was hurt and we were exchanging info already.  Something didn’t feel right about this to me.  Thankfully, I listened to my Spidey sense and called the police.  A few minutes later an officer arrived and took all of our information.

What A Police Officer Does At The Accident

  • The officer took all of our pertinent information and heard separate descriptions of what happened from each of us. This was good because the officer gave us each a Driver Information Exchange Report which listed car insurance information, driver’s license #, address, phone number, car description VIN, and more.  After an accident it’s easy for a driver to forget to get a piece of information or write something down incorrectly.  Getting this from a police officer helps to prevent that.
  • I didn’t know it at the time but you could be given a ticket for driving too close and causing an accident (at least where I was). This may have been one of the key reasons the driver who hit me wanted to leave.  It ends up the officer gave him a written warning.  This is very important in that it gives official evidence that the officer felt it was the driver’s fault for causing the accident!  This will help in determining the fault for the insurance companies which will lead to me getting back my car insurance deductible from repairs on my accident claims (my deductible is $1000).
  • The officer filed a police report for the accident. The insurance companies will use this as well in determining the fault.  Without getting a police report you run the risk of a driver changing his story after the fact and it becomes an issue of his word against yours.  Again this will help in getting my deductible back.
  • Having an officer there helps keep everyone’s heads level. Things can get heated when there’s an accident.  I’d rather have the officer do the peace keeping than worry about it myself.  Also, I want to believe in the best in people but I don’t know the person who hit me from Adam.  An officer can confirm that this isn’t a criminal.  A little paranoid?  Yes.  Does it give me additional peace of mind at a stressful moment?  Heck yeah!

As you can see calling the police was important. With the written warning and the police report the automobile insurance company should see that the fault was on the other driver.  This will save me my insurance deductible of $1000.  Had I not called it could possibly cost me that $1000!

Creative Commons License photo credit: Mr Wabu

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Published or updated February 5, 2013.

Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this! You might feel like a bit of a “jerk” by insisting that the police be called, but in the end it’s the proper way to get things resolved.

  2. I was in an accident and having a cop definitely help as the father of the 17 year old came and flipped out.

  3. Oh – absolutely if there is damage to your vehicle. I got in an accident a few months back myself and my car was fine, but he rear-ended me. We didn’t see a need to call the cops because it wasn’t a horrible accident and everyone was fine, but I also had the idea in the back of my head… did you just dial 911?

  4. @ Miranda – I felt a bit like one for taking up everyone’s time but it was definitely the right thing to do.

    @ Laura – Exactly! Sometimes you need an unbiased level head to take care of things. That’s were the police come in.

    @ Hank – I did dial 911. I wasn’t sure what else to call but it was the local precinct and they were fine to deal with.

  5. It is vitally important that the police file a report. This serves as an unbiased record of what took place. It can help you and your insurance company avoid a lawsuit later on if the other person tries to dispute the facts.

  6. Good call (pun intended)! There could have been a number of reasons the other driver did not want to file a police report. It’s a good thing you did in order to protect yourself. Sometimes, being nice can cost you.

  7. @ Jeff – Yes, getting an official report from the police will make it tough for a person to change their story. Without it it’s their word against yours!

    @ Single Guy – You have to protect yourself first. Being too nice in this case would have hurt me.

  8. i’m glad that nobody was hurt, and also glad that you called the police. better safe than sorry!

  9. I was on the other end of an accident earlier this year. We were in stop and go traffic. The light turned green and we all started moving. I looked down for just a moment and the car in front of me slammed on their brakes. By the time i looked up it was too late.

    When we got out and looked at the damage the car i had hit (Jeep liberty) had no discernable damage whatsoever. My car on the other hand had a big hole in the bumper and the hood was crunched.

    We didn’t call the cops because the other person’s car wasn’t damaged, and I didn’t want my rates to go up. So we just exchanged information, and went our separate ways. I didn’t report the accident, got the damage fixed and my driving record stayed spotless!

    If the accident wasn’t my fault I may have felt differently about calling and filing a report.

  10. @ Pete – In your case the fault was yours and there was no damage to the other car so I can see why you wouldn’t want to get your insurance involved. Still a police report could help protect you if the other driver decided his neck hurt a day or two later.

  11. Your going to want to turn it in to the insurance co just in case the claiment comes back wanting to render damages. The insurance co will ask you why you failed to report the claim a few days ago. Just be careful!

  12. I had a similar accident with four cars involved. I had VW Golf at that moment. Someone hit an SUV behind me. The driver in SUV couldn’t stop his car and crashed my rear fender and an Audi A6 next to me. The most interesting thing was that the guy who caused the accident ran away and we couldn’t catch him. I called police, but it didn’t help much, they couldn’t find that guy either. So, it cost me a chunk of bucks to repair my car, because I had high deductibles and insurance company didn’t cover my losses.

  13. Best Auto Accident Lawyers says:

    When I was in a serious auto accident, I wasn’t thinking straight. Thank goodness witnesses to the wreck were and they called the police. Later, the driver of the car who caused the accident tried to blame the driver of the car in which I was riding for causing the accident.

    Fortunately, we had a police report (not to mention physical evidence) to tell the TRUTH!

    It NEVER hurts to have a police report!

  14. It is always a good idea to call the police when there are more than two vehicles involved as it helps to clarify who is at fault, which can save a lot of time if the person at fault later refuses to accept liability. It is normally clear cut if someone crashes into the rear of another vehicle but you would be surprised how crafty some people can be so it is better to be safe than sorry by doing what you did and contact the police.

    whiplash’s last blog post..Whiplash Compensation Claims

  15. Good thing no one was hurt!! Its always a good Idea to get the police involved once you’ve had a car accident no matter how many cars involved.

  16. Can anyone answer my question. See I got in an accident myself last night. It wasn’t my fault the guy ran the stop sign. I did call 911 an officer got there he got our statements they were the same story. Now the officer didn’t give me a copy of the report. What can I do? Someone plz help me out

    • I don’t know that you will always get a copy of the police report from the officer. You may have to go to the precinct for a copy. Your insurance company should be able to find the information as well.

  17. I was in an accident yesterday. When the cop came he took both of our stories and wrote a report. Although I looked fine on the outside I was shaken up and not coherent whereas the person who hit me had their act together. He didn’t look at the damage to either car. He faulted me for the accident and gave me a ticket. Photos of the damage tell a different story. Cops can be biased and in this case he was.

  18. Good morning every one,

    Thanks for leaving it open to support others!

    I just got hit by a crazy driver, who totally destroyed my car. Before he hit me he had hit another toyota at the free way, and the damage caused to the other car wasn’t as much as it was to my car that was banged above the meridian, then hitting the curb and the other side of the road, spinning and ending in the middle of the road. ps. I was at the stop sign. I was not capable to call the police, but others did, and thank you God that I had a few witness, who had stopped to support me, and to call the police. Sure I would not be able to make any call because I was totally out of me for a few seconds.
    (the police officer after had done the police reporter at the scene of accident had tell me that he would go tho the hospital where I was send to to get more information about the accident. Instead doing what he told me he was going to do. The police officer went home and took my driver license and debit card with him because his day of work was done). “I just felt like a rice bag, by being passed around from one police officer to the other.”
    Is it okay about him taking my Id’s with him?

  19. halo wagner says:

    hi I hope I can get some help. I was hit in the rear end yesterday while waiting to get on the interstate. I was stopped waiting for a clear to merge on. when all the sudden bam hit by a truck I was in shock due to only inches from being pushed into the busy interstate. I couldn’t move and no cell to call police a guy came to check n me as well as the guy who hit me and I was crying asking someone to call 911 witch the officer had finally came witch seemed to take a long time. when he came he did not take a report at all the driver gave me his information and the cop did not run it to even check I know because they were at my car window when the driver asked if he wanted him to. the driver also said many times this was his 3rd wreak in last 2 weeks. really??? cop did nothing didn’t try to help at all I was totally unable to drive full panic attack but said to go my car in back is smashed trunk won’t close and not sure what else at the time. I lived very close so when I got home after pulling over at a store in shock I started acting off confusion and pain my mom and nephew was here and my 14 nephew called ambulance due to the way I was acting and responding and went to hospital and had 5 diagnosis.. today I feel really bad everything hurts and still having stressful moments. I called to ask the officer why he didn’t take a report and that my insurance said I should had got one. he called me back and said there was no need to that the guy gave me his information witch mind you the cop did not even check. and that if either insurance company’s have questions they can call him. well if he didn’t take any reports how are you going to be able to answer any questions to them. so today my insurance couldn’t believe the officer said that instead of just taking a report they suggested to go into a station a fill one out.. is this right I read everyone’s stories and all mostly had reports done.. should this officer have done a report and now what can or should I do. he acted like he didn’t want to even be bothered with this maybe due to the rain im not sure. thanks

    • Glen Craig says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your accident. Unfortunately I don’t know what the rules are for every police precinct. You might want to follow your insurance company’s advice and file a report at the station.

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