If you are the victim of a car accident, it seems second nature that you would call the police once the scene is safe. But what if the accident was minor, such as a fender-bender, and you know you will be waiting over an hour for an officer to respond to the scene of the accident? What if the expiration sticker on your car or your auto-insurance has expired? Would it be worth it to call 911 in this situation? When it comes to calling 911 after a car accident, there are some important factors you must consider.
Few, if any, individuals are ever prepared to begin or end their day with a car accident. A serious accident can leave you shocked, especially if you didn’t have a few precious seconds to prepare for the impact. Accordingly, it is important to take the following steps immediately after you are involved in a car accident:
- Get to safety if you are able;
- Check yourself, your passengers, and then others involved for injuries;
- Call 911 immediately if anyone has been trapped, rendered unconscious, is bleeding or is complaining of pain, and
- Begin the information gathering process.
If the scene is safe and there are no visible or serious injuries, it is important to take pictures of the following in order to preserve any future personal injury or property claims:
- The scene of the accident, including street signs;
- The license plates of the vehicles involved;
- The damage to the vehicles;
- Any debris located at the scene, and
- Any skid marks or road obstructions.
You should not allow another driver to take pictures of your license or vehicle registration, as your personal information may be at risk. However, it is important to demand to see identification that matches the description of the driver as well as vehicle registration, inspection, and insurance documentation.
Look for and Suspect Latent Injuries
If you have been involved in a car accident, you may step out of your vehicle feeling pretty good. It may not seem that anyone has been injured, and as a result, you and the other driver may determine not to call 911. However, it is important to consider that not all car accident injuries manifest immediately after the accident, especially if you are experiencing an adrenaline rush, which can increase your focus and mask your pain for a short time. The following injuries are common after a car accident, but they can manifest hours or even days later:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries;
- Sprains and strains;
- Bruising, and
- Spinal injuries involving nerve roots and disruptions.
So what happens if you are involved in an accident, do not call the police, which means there will be no police report, and find that a day later you need treatment for your severe neck injury? The problem is that, without a police report, your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company may disclaim liability or refuse to pay for your medical bills.
For example, what if the other driver states that you caused the accident when he was really the driver at fault? It would be your word against his, and because the injured party bringing a personal injury action in Florida has the burden of proof in litigation matters, your word against his word alone is not going to be enough. Accordingly, even if you do not believe you have suffered a serious injury after a car accident, it is always a good idea to call the police so that there is a report of the accident on file and the police officer can act as a neutral witness if need be.
Are there Consequences of Calling 911?
Often, an injured party may wish to avoid calling the police for a plethora of reasons. What if one of the drivers had a glass of wine an hour ago or their registration has expired? Is it worth it to call the police if you believe it may lead to consequences worse than those of the actual accident? Even more so, what if one of the parties is not in the country legally? All of these factors must be taken into consideration when determining whether to call the police after a Florida car accident, but in Florida, there are certain situations when law enforcement must be called in accordance with Florida law. Failing to do so can have serious consequences. These situations include:
- If there are injuries;
- If the property damage appears to be over $500;
- If the accident was a hit-and-run; or
- If the other driver appears to be under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
When it doubt, you should always contact law enforcement. However, if these situations do not clearly apply and you are debating whether to call the police after a car accident, keep a local Florida personal injury firm, such as the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, on speed dial and ask for a quick consultation with an attorney.
Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury Attorney with Questions
Whether you were just involved in a car accident or have questions about a past car accident after which you did not call the police, it is important to contact a Florida personal injury attorney to discuss your options. You may have to go to the police station to file an accident report, or you may not be obligated to take further action. Ultimately, if the accident caused substantial property damages and the impact was heavy, even if you are not feeling the effects of that impact immediately, it is always important to contact your local police department for assistance. They know what to look for when it comes to certain traumatic brain and neck injuries, and they may be able to help keep you calm after an unexpected accident.
If you were injured in a Florida car accident and you have questions about the nature of your police report or your interaction with local police after your accident, contact the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, your premier personal injury lawyers in the greater Tampa Bay area. They can advise you as to what steps you need to take after an accident under Florida law. Contact them today online or at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.