Reporting an Accident to the Police

When do I have to report a car accident to the police?Although it would be in your best interest to always call the police when you get into a car accident, you only need to call the police if there has been major damage to the cars, persons, or property involved in the accident. And even in a minor fender bender, it makes good sense to at least contact the police to see if they will come over to assist in reporting the vehicle mishap between you and another driver.

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The more proactive, prepared, and calm you are after a car accident the clearer your head will be to make an informed decision during this potentially stressful time. Many questions you should think about now, so you will be prepared in the event of an unfortunate vehicular accident – no matter how minor or major.

Do I need to report to the police if I hit a cat with my car?

In most states you would not have to call this type of accident into the police. Although you may be shaken up, by law you are not obligated to call in for many types of creatures. Animals that you do need to call the police about if you are in an accident with them are:

  • reporting an accident to the policeHorse
  • Cattle
  • Pig
  • Goat
  • Mule
  • Donkey
  • Dog

You should make sure if you hit a cat or other creature that it is on the side of the road, and is all right. If the animal is severely injured, you can choose to help it or not (call a veterinarian, etc.).

Why should I call the police even if the car accident is minor?

Even though in some metropolitan areas the police will not come out to an accident unless there is severe damage to the vehicles or someone is injured, you should still make the call.

The reason being is that having a police report may be the best piece of evidence to prove to your insurance company if you should be liable for the accident or not.

And although the police will not file a police report right then and there for you, you still will be able to get a copy of the report (for a nominal fee – usually under $20) from the police station a few days or weeks after the accident.

What information should I exchange with the other driver if I get into a car accident?

If you both can get out of the car, and are in a safe place to take down information, here are the critical pieces of information you should take down:

  • reporting to the police a car accidentNames
  • Addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • Vehicle identification and license plate numbers
  • Contact information for their insurance companies and policy numbers
  • Check the car’s registration and get the owner’s name and contact information if it’s not the driver
  • Get names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses and passengers

If you have a camera or one on your cell phone, take photographs of the damage and the car accident scene. If you are without a camera, at least try to make a rough sketch of the accident.

Make sure to note the time, date and location of the accident. Also, if a police officer does arrive, take down his/her badge number, and find out where and when you will be able to pick up this police report.

Should I contact my car insurance company if the accident is minor?

No matter how big or small an accident you should always file a notification with your insurance provider.

But depending on your deductible, you may not want to file a car insurance claim.

If you have a high deductible (say $1000), and the accident only caused $300 worth of damage after getting the car evaluated by a trusted mechanic, then you may want to hold off filing a claim on the car so your insurance premiums don’t go up, and simply pay for the repair out of pocket.

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