Do I need to call the police if I get into a car accident?

Question:

Do I need to call the police if I get into a car accident?

Answer:

Your state’s vehicle code outlines your legal obligations after a car accident, so the answer to this question varies depending on where you live. (Check out Car Accident Laws in Your State.)

In some states, you’re required to notify law enforcement of any motor vehicle accident that involves injuries (whether to a driver, passenger, bicyclist, or pedestrian). You may also be required to report any accident that resulted in property damage (whether to a vehicle or to real property, like a building) over a certain dollar amount.

If you’re not sure what you should do (whether from a practical or legal standpoint) it’s probably best to call the police after a car accident. Call the agency directly (don’t call 911 unless it’s a medical emergency) and tell them what happened. They will most likely let you know whether they will be coming to the scene or not.

If law enforcement does come to the scene of your accident, remember to co-operate, provide any information they ask for, and answer their questions to the best of your ability. Be sure to get the name and badge number of the responding officer, so that you can follow up with the agency and get a copy of any police report that is generated.

It may be that you call law enforcement and inform them of the accident, and they let you know that they will not be responding to the scene. This is especially common in busy metropolitan areas, where police aren’t sent to the scene of a crash unless someone is injured. In this situation, make sure you exchange all relevant contact and insurance information with other drivers, get names and phone numbers of any witnesses, take pictures of the accident scene, and follow all other appropriate steps to take at the scene a car accident.

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