Reporting an Accident When the Police Don't Show

In the event of a major crash, usually somebody, whether it’s someone involved in the accident or a bystander will call 911 to report the accident. Soon after, the police and possibly an ambulance will be dispatched to the scene of the crash. While the police are at the scene, they will document the accident in a police report.

But, what if the police never show due to weather or bigger, more pressing 911 calls? What if the drivers think the accident is minor, so they never call the police? In other words, if the police don’t show up after an accident for one reason or another, what should the innocent driver (plaintiff) do next? Before we address making sure an official police report is made, first let’s look at why the police may not show:

  • There were no injuries. If the accident was not a priority because no one was hurt, the police may have to prioritize another incident; for example, an injury crash, or an armed robber at a convenient store.
  • If a severe storm, blizzard, flood, or other extreme weather condition prevents the police from responding to a non-injury crash, the police may not be able to write the report in person.
  • The property damage was so minor (e.g. less than $500), the police may not take the report at the scene.

Do I Need to Report a Minor Incident?

No matter how minor the accident, it’s important to get a police report. If the police do not make it to the scene of the crash because they have other priorities, you can ask the police dispatcher how to file an official police report after the accident.

You can file a report after the fact at the station, or sometimes you can do it online. Our advice is to file a report in person, but you can see if your local department’s website allows you to file reports online. Why are police reports so important? There are several reasons.

Even if the property damage seems minor, you could later learn that it’s going to cost thousands to repair the damage. Also, if you notice a problem with your vehicle shortly after the crash, it helps to have a police report to document that the accident actually happened. Another issue – you could discover that you suffered from whiplash, a concussion, or a back or neck injury, which will incur damages that you’ll want to be compensated by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Before filing a police report, gather the following information:

  • The name of the other driver.
  • The other driver’s insurance information.
  • The names and phone numbers of any witnesses.
  • Photos (taken with your smartphone) of both vehicles at the scene of the crash.

Occasionally, the police will be too busy to respond to a minor accident. If that happens to you it doesn’t have to affect your personal injury claim. If you live in or near Columbia, SC and you were involved in a car wreck, contact our office for a free case evaluation!

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