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Do I Need to Call the Police After Being in a Car Crash?

woman on phone with police after accident

A car crash can leave you jarred, confused, and overwhelmed. After the accident you may be assessing your injuries, the damage to your car, other people involved, etc., while worrying about what it means for you financially and trying to decide what to do next. The other driver may even tell you that you can handle things informally and that there’s no need to “get the cops involved.” What should you do after an accident? Do you need to call the police, or should you handle things on your own?

Read on for a discussion of whether you should report your accident to the police in California. Call a zealous Lancaster car accident lawyer at the Kistler Law Firm for help if you’ve been hurt in a Southern California car crash in Los Angeles or the Antelope Valley.

California Law Requires You to Report Some Accidents

If you were in a single-car accident, no one else was involved, and no one was hurt, you might not be required to call the police or otherwise report the accident. In many cases, however, California law does require you to make a report.

First of all, if you were involved in an accident that caused or may have caused any injury or damage to someone else’s property, you are required by law to stop at the scene, render reasonable aid to anyone injured, and exchange contact info and insurance information with anyone else involved. If you rear-end someone and then drive away, you could be charged with a criminal hit-and-run offense.

California law also requires drivers to report an accident to the police under certain circumstances. According to the California Vehicle Code, drivers involved in an accident are required to report the accident to the police or the California Highway Patrol within 24 hours if any of the following is true:

● Someone was injured in the accident;
● Someone was killed in the accident; OR
● The accident led to property damage in excess of $1,000.

You are also required to report the accident to the DMV under these circumstances. Failing to report the accident can lead to points on your license or even license suspension.

In Los Angeles, the LAPD also asks drivers to report any accident that involves an intoxicated driver, an unlicensed driver, or a hit-and-run.

Calling the Police Helps Your Case

Even aside from your legal obligations, it’s helpful to report the accident to the police. We’d recommend calling the police from the scene rather than waiting, in order to get the police involved in the accident investigation.

If you have any reason to believe the other driver or some other party was responsible for the accident, then you’ll want to call the police. The police will generate a report that will likely turn into a key piece of evidence for your claim. The report will include key pieces of evidence, including the parties involved, the contact information for any witnesses to the accident, details about what happened and how, statements from you and other parties involved, traffic citations issued, and the officer’s conclusions about what caused the crash. Even if you aren’t sure who is to blame, it’s important to get the police involved; they might uncover facts you didn’t know, such as if the other driver was intoxicated or texting while driving.

That report is key even if you aren’t immediately sure whether you’ll need to file any claims. Many injuries do not present symptoms right after the crash. You could have a concussion or other brain injury, you could have whiplash, internal bleeding or organ damage, etc. These injuries can manifest in the days or weeks after the crash, and if you suddenly find yourself owing thousands of dollars in medical costs, you’ll wish you had taken all the right steps from the first minutes after your car crash.

Without a police report, the other driver, their insurance company, and even your own insurance company might deny your claims.

A knowledgeable car accident attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve after a Southern California traffic collision. At the Kistler Law Firm, our Lancaster auto accident attorneys will work with you to assess your case, gather evidence, and pursue appropriate legal action on your behalf. Reach out to our team today to schedule a free consultation about your case.

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