Generally, it won’t hurt to call the police after getting involved in a car accident – no matter how minor you think it may be. At the very least, you can file a police report to document the incident. That said, there are certain circumstances in which you should always request a police officer to arrive at the scene of the accident.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) states that drivers should contact the police when:
- Someone died during the crash
- The other driver fled the scene of the accident
- Anyone is injured or believes they may have been injured
- Either vehicle is disabled due to damage
- You suspect the other driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- The other driver doesn’t have insurance
If your accident is truly minor, the police are unlikely to show up. This is often the case for low-speed fender-bender accidents that didn’t involve any injuries or significant damage. You may only leave the scene of a car accident when you and the other driver exchange information and/or a police officer allows you to leave.
What Is Considered Fleeing the Scene of an Accident?
You can be charged with a crime for failing to stop and the scene of an accident; failing to return to the accident site; and/or failing to provide contact information (including insurance information). Any of these may provide the basis for criminal charges alleging that you unlawfully left the scene of the accident, such as “hit and run.”
Misdemeanor charges may be applied when relatively minor damage property damage occurred. Felony charges, which are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, may be applied when someone was killed or injured in the accident.
For these reasons, it’s not a bad idea to call the police after your accident and wait for them to arrive and make a report.
Will a Police Report Help My Personal Injury Case?
Police reports are admissible evidence in a personal injury lawsuit, so having one can help you with your car accident injury case.
Keep in mind, however, that a police report doesn’t inherently take your side in such a dispute. The report merely reflects the statements you and the other party gave to police at the time of the accident. A contemporaneous record such as this can be a valuable asset to your case, but it’s not prone to errors. For example, the police officer could have misheard important facts or used language in their report that misrepresents the nature or character of the facts relevant to the accident.
If you intend to use the police report as evidence in your personal injury lawsuit, always consult with an attorney who can help you assess its value to your claim.
Rodriguez & Gimbert, P.L.L.C. can provide the legal support you need for your car accident injury claim or if you are facing criminal charges related to leaving the scene of an accident.
Contact our firm online now to learn more.