What Happens After a Car Accident with No Police Report?
Posted on February 3rd, 2021 by Zane Cagle
You probably know the conventional wisdom about the steps to take after being in a car accident. If you’ve been involved in an accident and are physically able to do so, you should always call the police immediately and then exchange insurance information with the other motorist(s). Even if you do not have life-threatening injuries, calling the police accomplishes several things, including safely routing of traffic and documentation of the crash.
Once the police arrive, an officer will make a report of the incident by taking down the basic facts and everybody’s information. The parties then go their separate ways, with the insurance companies communicating to sort out who pays what to whom.
Sometimes, though, you may feel that you’ve been in a “mild” accident for which no police report is necessary. More commonly, during really busy traffic, the police may say to just exchange information if there are no injuries. However, you should always call the police immediately. Maybe the property damage is minor, your initial pain isn’t too bad, and the other driver was polite, apologetic, and properly insured, you think. The only way you actually know if someone is properly insured is by contacting the insurance carrier which is usually not possible at the scene of the crash.
The problem with failing to involve the police is that there now exists no official record of what actually happened. It is your word against the other driver’s, and if anyone changes their minds about who caused the accident, it can be difficult to prove otherwise. Likewise, the other driver may have an insurance card, but you cannot know if it is active or the coverage has lapsed. Filing an insurance claim if you have injuries becomes more complicated if there is no police report.
So, what happens after a car accident with no police report? We’ll go over this situation and how a St. Louis car accident lawyer from The Cagle Law Firm can help you after an accident.
Consider State Laws First
Before we discuss what actually happens when you didn’t get a police report at the scene of an accident, we would advise you to review the laws in your state regarding filing a police report.
Reports are necessary for some states under certain conditions. If your accident occurred in Missouri, for instance, you’d need a police officer to file an accident report if someone was hurt, if the property damage was worth more than $500, if an uninsured driver was involved, or if an owner of a parked car became involved in an accident with property damage worth $500 or more. At times, it can be extremely difficult to determine at the scene the value of the property damage. One does not need a lot of damage to exceed $1,000.00. So, be sure to always call the police.
In Missouri, you must call the police and get a report if the accident caused an injury, death, or property damage worth more than $500. Police reports are also necessary for accidents with uninsured drivers and accidents involving owners of parked cars who become party to accidents that cause injuries, deaths, or more than $500 of property damage. In Missouri and Illinois, you should ALWAYS call the police.
What Happens with No Report
Despite such laws, it is still always a good idea to file a police report for any kind of car accident, no matter how minor.
The reason you should always file a report is that a police report provides a law enforcement officer’s account of what happened according to what the officer discerned from the scene. Officers look at the physical evidence and take statements.
People’s minds can be in all kinds of places in the minutes following an accident. Few people probably think straight in the immediate aftermath of a car collision. They may be inclined to be polite to the other driver to make the process go by easier but then think about it more in subsequent days.
Maybe their opinion changes. Maybe they remember previously forgotten details. Maybe the other driver’s insurance contacts them with a different version of events and is looking for payment. The facts of the crash do not change, but a driver’s opinion may. A police report is a document that makes it more difficult for stories to change.
Or, just maybe, the other driver is actually claiming the crash was your fault, and he or she has hired a personal injury lawyer to sue you for damages.
You can see the mess that can ensue from even a minor car accident without a police report. Avoiding those kinds of scenarios is as simple as calling 911 after a crash.
Additionally, personal injury attorneys such as those at The Cagle Law Firm can use police reports to get better ideas of what happened in an accident. Those reports are generally not admissible as evidence in court, but they still help us establish a record if you’ve been injured. The report also serves as a resource to the responding officer should he or she be called for a deposition or trial.
It Is Always a Good Idea to File a Police Report
The bottom line is, if you are injured in a case of inattentive driving or any other kind of accident and did not file a police report, your chances of obtaining compensation for your injury and property damages can be more seriously questioned.
Failing to get a report does not guarantee that your lawsuit will fail. However, it can produce serious challenges. While our attorneys can work to prove liability in other ways, such as by hearing from eye-witnesses and examining vehicle photos you took at the scene, a police report is a good foundation.
Police Reports undoubtedly help our attorneys in proving your claim and keep you from becoming the victim of the other driver’s changing narratives of the incident.
Call us at The Cagle Law Firm if you’ve been injured in an accident and need legal representation that will fight for your right to compensation. Contact our attorneys via our toll-free number 1(800) 685-3302 or locally (314) 276.1681.