Yes, you should always call the police after a car accident, and you should always wait for the police to arrive before you leave the accident site.
Getting in a car accident is frightening and stressful. If you don’t feel injured or the damages seem minor, you might be tempted to leave the scene of the accident instead of waiting for the police. Alternatively, if you or the other involved parties don’t have auto insurance or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you might find yourself wanting to leave or being pressured into leaving without calling the police.
Staying calm and taking the required steps after an accident is very challenging though, it is crucial to remember that motorists have certain legal responsibilities after an auto accident.
Whether it is a major or a minor automobile accident, you must contact the police immediately and cooperate to file a police report.
No matter what the situation is, you should ALWAYS wait for the police after a car accident. There are few exceptions to this rule, and no situations where not having a police report will help you.
A police officer will help ensure your safety in the aftermath of the accident, file an unbiased and accurate accident report, and meet your legal obligation in many states—including the state of Louisiana. They will also help determine fault and protect you from fraudulent or dishonest claims.
1 ) Louisiana Law Requires Police to be Notified after an Accident
You are legally required to call the police if an accident occurs in Louisiana for which there is injury, death, or property damage over $500.
According to Louisiana State legislation (LRS 32:398), in an accident in which there is injury, death, or property damage over $500, the police must be notified.
This law directly states: “The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person or property damage in excess of five hundred dollars shall […] by the quickest means of communication, give notice of the accident to the local police department if the accident occurs within an incorporated city or town or if the accident occurs outside of an incorporated city or town, to the nearest sheriff’s office or a state police station.”
The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections must also be contacted, and if public property such as a stop sign, traffic light, or traffic divider has been damaged, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development must also be contacted.
Besides, if an accident results in an injury, death, or at least $100 in property damage, involved drivers have to submit a written report to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections within 24 hours of the crash. If motorists violate this rule, they might be entitled to punishment for up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to 100 dollars, or both.
The police officer who evaluates the accident will file these necessary reports, which is yet another important reason to call the police while still at the scene of your accident. Filing a police report after the accident will only add another necessary complication to your recovery process.
2) Often Times at-fault Driver Denies Liability During Claim Settlement
It is a common incident that a negligent driver even confesses the fault to the other driver at the car crash scene but later doesn’t want to admit the fault to an insurance adjuster.
The police investigation helps out to settle disputes by proving fault. The police officer will take statements from both parties and other witnesses of the accident. For this reason, the at-fault driver won’t get any chance to refuse his/her fault while resolving the case.
Afterward, this police report will provide all the evidence for presenting the case to the insurance adjuster and concerned authority.
3. You Might be More Injured Than You Realize
Some accident victims are physically injured right away, and they may be taken immediately to a hospital, possibly in an ambulance. But what if you feel fine? In some cases, a victim’s injuries might develop in the days or weeks after the accident.
Immediately after an accident, you will likely have an increase of adrenaline in your body, which can numb you from the initial severity or longevity of your injuries. This is your body enacting its “fight or flight” mode, which may help you at the moment, but can be misleading in the long term.
If you end up developing physical injuries after the accident, but the police were not called to the scene of the accident, you won’t have a police report.
However, a police report is one of the important documents needed to receive compensation for your damages from either your own insurance company or the at-fault party’s insurance policy. You will have a difficult time successfully seeking compensation without a police report.
4. You Might Encounter Pressure, Bullying, or Aggression from the Other Party Involved
A police officer can facilitate a fair and safe exchange of information between all parties involved in the accident. If one party was clearly at fault, has been driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or does not have auto insurance, he or she may pressure you into not calling the police.
The other party may want to settle the case or pay for damages without informing their insurance company or yours. This might seem tempting. You may even find yourself being offered a sum of money that the other person expects will cover damages.
But don’t be fooled! This is bribery, and accepting it will only hinder your ability to get all of your physical and property damage costs recovered. If you accept money and fail to call the police for a police report, a personal injury lawyer will have a far more difficult time helping you receive additional compensation, especially if your injuries develop with time.
Remind the other driver, passenger, or pedestrian involved in the car accident that you are legally required to call the police, and stand firm in your resolve. Calling the police will only help you.
If the other driver or passengers involved in the car accident are acting aggressively toward you, bullying or threatening you if you choose to call the police, stay calm and call 911 to report the accident.
Do not allow yourself to be intimidated out of calling the police! In extreme situations, having a police officer on the scene may help secure your own safety as you exchange information with the other driver or drivers and determine fault for the accident.
5. The Police Officer Will Make an Unbiased Report & Will Preserve Details That Can Determine Which Driver Is At Fault
Police officers are trained to gather the details of the accident, assess the severity of injuries and call an ambulance if needed, and ensure the safety of everyone in the accident after it occurs. They may place traffic cones around the scene of the accident or redirect traffic.
This is important to do because preserving the accident can help determine who is at fault. Try to avoid moving the vehicles after an accident before the police can arrive.
If you get in an accident on a busy road or highway, it’s best to wait until the police arrive on the scene to redirect traffic, for both your own safety and for determining which driver caused the accident.
A law enforcement officer will identify how much property damages occurred because of the crash and also create a record of physical injury of the victims. so that the negligent driver and the insurance company will not get any scope to deny their responsibilities.
You also will want to call the police to ensure that the other driver is honest about what happened in the accident.
By not calling the police and allowing the other party to drive away from the scene, they could then inflict additional damage to their vehicle and claim it was part of the accident in order to get more money from their insurance company or yours. A police report will protect you from this type of fraudulent behavior.
After the police arrive, they will help facilitate the exchange of information between all parties, will gather interviews and eyewitness statements, and will help move the cars to a safer location, if necessary.
The police officer will file a police report, and you should reach out to the police department to obtain a copy of that report for your own records. You should call your insurance company to report the accident.
Your next steps will be to address any injuries you sustained due to the accident, and to work on your emotional and physical healing.
In the time after a car accident, it is normal to feel overwhelmed or encounter stress. You may experience symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after such a traumatic event.
If you were injured in a car accident in the state of Louisiana and you would like to make sure you’re fairly compensated for your medical bills, property damage, loss of wages, and emotional damages reach out to Breaux Law Firm today. At Breaux Law Firm, we make sure to provide personalized attention and care to each of our clients, and we fight for you as if we were fighting for one of our own family members. Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys at Breaux Law Firm to get started on your recovery with a free consultation today.