One of the more common questions individuals involved in a car accident have after the accident occurs is “should I call the police?”
It is important to understand what Texas law dictates regarding the driver’s legal responsibilities should they be involved in a car accident, one of these being informing law enforcement.
Call The Police if There is an Injury
One of the first actions that should be taken after an accident is to check the safety and well-being of all involved. See if anyone involved is injured and needs immediate medical assistance. If anyone is seriously injured, the police will need to be called.
It is important that all individuals remain at the scene until authorities and emergency dispatch arrives. If the person who is injured is so seriously injured that he or she is not able to speak for himself or herself, others who witnessed or were a part of the accident may need to provide important details.
Texas Transportation Code Title 7 requires an individual to report an accident any time the crash results in injury, death or property damage of more than $1,000. If someone is involved in an accident meeting these requirements and does not report it, that person may face criminal penalties, including jail time and fines up to $5,000.
Even if someone is involved in an accident and is not sure if an injury is deemed ‘serious” or property damage of $1,000 or more, it is best to err on the side of caution and report the accident.
A Police Report Can Be Helpful
Not only is a police report required for many situations, it can also prove to be very helpful. Not only can it be helpful when it comes to submitting an insurance claim, but if the other side disputes fault for the accident, the police account of what happened can prove useful.
Even if the injuries are not obvious, due to the fact that most individuals are under an adrenaline rush or “fight or flight” mode, these injuries may not manifest until well after the accident. They can take days, if not weeks, to truly appear. If these injuries do appear later and the injured party tries to make a claim but failed to make a police report at the time the accident occurred, the insurance provider may dispute the fact that the injury was caused from the accident.
The police report will also include information that is needed for a claim or later report, such as the name of the other driver, the insurance provider and license plate number, and other important information.
The police report can be used to help the injured party recover damages he or she deserves. Insurance companies also put a lot of credence in police reports, especially when evaluating fault in accident claims.
How to Handle the Police Report
The best manner by which to report an accident is to call 9-1-1. Obtain the name and contact information for the officer who completed the report and ask them how a copy of the police report can be obtained later.
Certain other helpful tips should be kept in mind when making the report. It is important to be truthful when making these statements. However, never make any statements regarding fault or assigning blame whether it be admitting fault or assigning blame to someone else.
Also, do not answer questions for which an answer is not known. If the interviewed individual provides an answer that he or she knows may or may not be true, and that information is later refuted, that could be used against him or her.
A police report should include an accurate description of what happened in the accident, how many people were in the car at the time of the accident, names and contact information for any witnesses, injuries that are being experienced, signs of property damage to vehicles involved, driver insurance information, and vehicle information.
If a police report is not filed, this failure to report can be a problem later if the injured party wants to file an insurance claim. In fact, the insurance provider may question whether the accident actually occurred and whether the injuries and property damage were all that serious. When in doubt, it is best to go ahead and contact the police, even if an insurance claim is not filed.
Contact Us Today
The attorneys at Herrman & Herrman have over 100 years of combined legal experience representing injured Texas residents. Contact our office today for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. Call Herrman and Herrman today at (361) 792-3669.