Contacting the police should be one of the first things you do after a crash. The information gathered is critical for an insurance claim or case set up by an accident attorney. But a police presence isn’t the only key to a successful car accident injury claim. There are many reasons to contact the authorities, not to mention it being the law in most states.
At a car accident scene, a police officer can:
Provide Emergency Medical Care
If someone is seriously injured, immediate medical care is a must. The police are often the first to arrive and can provide basic medical care. But if serious injuries are involved, 911 should be called first, even before calling the police. A police officer can also make way for an ambulance and help first responders move injured people into an ambulance.
Protect the Area Around the Crash
Major accidents require numerous emergency personnel and an investigation. The police will set up a perimeter around the crash site, so the road or part of it is free of traffic. Accident victims and others on the scene are therefore protected. This also provides a safe environment to talk to police, other drivers, and witnesses.
Conduct a Thorough Investigation
With the police on the scene, trained professionals determine what caused the crash. Police can collect information from all parties involved, check if drugs or alcohol contributed to the accident, and gather witness reports. A police report is an important document in these instances; for example, if you were to take legal action, a copy of this report (with the officer’s name, badge number, and other information) is essential evidence.
When the Police Are Slow to Arrive After a Crash
In the case of a minor fender bender, rushing to the scene may not be a priority, especially in major metropolitan areas. Law enforcement may simply tell you to exchange information with the other driver. In that case, get their name, address, phone number, license plate number, state the car is registered in, and the name of their car insurance company. Collect additional details such as the policy number and information on an insurance representative to contact. Ask for driver’s licenses and insurance verification cards to ensure you’re getting the right information.
Sometimes a minor accident is a low priority, but don’t wait to move forward before the police arrive. Assess the situation and assist anyone who may be hurt. You can also start to gather evidence, help protect the area, and record names and contact information from witnesses. And, don’t say anything that can be interpreted as admitting fault.
What to Say to the Police
The police officer that arrives at the scene should be the only point of contact about your accident. Provide only the information that they request. Avoid saying anything that would make you seem liable. Whatever you say will be included in the police report, which will be used later if you file an insurance claim or lawsuit.
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