You were in a car accident, and now you wonder if you should call the police. The short answer is: yes, you should always contact the police about your car accident in Virginia. A police report adds validity to your insurance claim. Police are "professional witnesses" to your car accident. The insurance company generally accepts what the police say about your accident. Police reports are infrequently disputed by insurance companies and those reports help support your version of events.
When Should I Contact Police after a Car Accident?
If you were in a serious car accident where there were injuries, you should call the police as soon as you safely can or have someone call them for you. Ideally, the police should be at the scene to document injuries, interview the other driver, and get your statement. They will create a police report and possibly ticket the at-fault driver.
In minor car accidents, it is still a good idea to call the police. In instances where the damage is minor and there are no injuries, you may visit the police station in person with the damaged vehicle to make a report. If an unknown person damaged your car, there may be little the police can do. However, in the event they can find the responsible person, you can file a claim against their insurance company.
How Does a Police Report Help my Car Accident Case?
Police reports about your car accident can be incredibly valuable. Police officers are generally considered highly credible witnesses, even if they didn't personally see the accident happen. Their assessment of events is thorough and they can be called to testify in court.
If both drivers give conflicting statements, the police report is used to clear up any confusion. If the at-fault driver lies to the insurance company, the police report can be used to dispute their claim. However, the insurance company can challenge the information in the police report. For example, if both drivers’ stories are the same, but the police report is different, the insurance company will typically assume the drivers' stories are accurate and the police report is incorrect.
Just because the other driver was ticketed does not mean they are automatically liable for damages. Police officers don't assign liability in a car accident, the insurance company does. In most cases, the police report helps the car insurance company determine liability. If the other driver receives a ticket, the insurance company will typically find them at fault for the accident.
What Should I do when the Police Come to the Accident?
First, make sure you communicate clearly and honestly with the officer. This can be hard to do if you are injured or confused after the accident. If you are unable to give a statement, it is okay to wait while you treat your injuries.
Next, make sure to get the police report number at the scene or as soon as possible. In Virginia, it can be difficult for the insurance company to access the police report. In some cases, it can take weeks before the insurance company can get a copy of the police report. You can facilitate this process by getting the report yourself and faxing it to the insurance company.
Police reports are an excellent way to enshrine the events of the accident. Car accident cases can take some time, particularly if you have serious injuries that require a lot of treatment. After several weeks or months, it can be difficult to recall the events of the day perfectly. Police reports are generally a reliable account of the accident, so you can count on that report to remember things you may forget while treating your injuries.