What Should I Do if the Police Do Not Come to the Scene of an Accident?

police accident scene

On the list of things you should always do after a car accident, one of the most important steps is to call 911 so that dispatch can send police to the scene of the accident. However, if the accident is a minor fender-bender and there are no injuries or significant property damage involved, it could take police hours to show up at the scene. In some cases, they may not show up at all if the accident is a low priority. Car accidents are stressful enough without the added stress and confusion over knowing what to do next, and how to handle the situation without a police officer present. There are a number of steps you should take that will ensure that your legal rights are protected, including contacting an experienced car accident lawyer who can assist you with the claims process.

Why Would Police Fail to Respond to the Call?

According to the National Emergency Number Association, 911 dispatchers receive approximately 240 million calls every year. That averages out to roughly 658,000 calls each day. If the accident is minor, police are less likely to rush to the scene of the accident, particularly if they are responding to other calls that are much more serious. In fact, if the accident did not cause any injuries and little to no property damage, some police departments urge the public to call a separate non-emergency number to report the accident, rather than calling 911. Severe weather can also prevent police from getting to the accident scene, or they may have to respond to more serious accidents that may have been caused by slippery, icy, or snow-covered roads.

Do I Always Need to Call the Police after an Accident?

Although it is always recommended that you call the police after an accident, you are not legally required to do so if the accident is minor and does not involve any injuries to property damage. However, if any of the following factors apply, you must notify the police as soon as possible:

  • You, the other motorist, or any passengers suffered injuries or potential injuries.
  • The damage to the vehicles exceeds $1,000. Car repairs are expensive, and even a relatively minor collision can involve expensive repairs, especially in newer model vehicles.
  • You or the other motorist does not have a valid driver’s license.
  • Any of the motorists involved in the accident are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • One or both vehicles will need to be towed.
  • The other driver refuses to provide his or her driver’s license, insurance information, or contact information.
  • The other driver leaves the accident scene.
  • You and the other driver disagree about the cause of the accident and who is at fault.

If you are at all unsure about whether you should notify police about the accident, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Oftentimes, the adrenaline rush associated with a high-stress situation such as a car accident can mask the symptoms of an injury. If you do not call the police and an injury surfaces later, you may have a difficult time proving that the injury was caused by the car accident if there is no police report on file.

What Steps Should I Take after a Car Accident?

Whether police arrive at the scene of the accident or not, there are steps you should take after every car accident, and these steps are particularly important if police do not arrive at the scene.

  • Gather evidence. If you can move around safely, try to collect as much physical evidence as possible. Take pictures of the accident scene, the damage to your vehicle, skid marks and debris on the road, traffic signals, weather conditions at the time of the accident, your injuries, and any other evidence that will help your claim. If police do not come to the scene, it is important to collect as much visual evidence as possible.
  • Talk to witnesses. If there were witnesses who saw the accident happen, they may be able to provide valuable information that can help prove fault. Ask the witnesses if they would be willing to provide an official statement and get their contact information.
  • Exchange information. This is particularly important if police do not come to the scene of the accident. Always exchange contact information, driver’s license number, insurance information, license plate number, and any other important contact information with all parties involved in the accident. Keep the conversation limited to sharing basic information. Never apologize for the accident, even if you are just trying to be nice. Statements such as this can be interpreted by the other driver’s insurance company as an admission of fault, which may prevent you from being able to collect compensation.
  • File a police report. If police do come to the scene of the accident, the officer will likely fill out a police report and provide you with a copy. If you do not get a copy of the report at the scene of the accident, you can request a copy from the local police department. If the car accident did not cause any injuries and police did not come to the scene, you can file your own police report. In fact, you are strongly urged to do so. This will ensure that there is an official record of the accident on file, which will help your case if you file a personal injury claim, particularly if you have injuries that showed up after the accident, or if the other motorist claims that you were at fault.

What Information Is Included in a Police Report?

A police report is an official document that provides detailed information about a traffic accident. Typically, a police report will include the following information:

  • Date, time, and location of the accident.
  • Names, addresses, and phone number of the drivers and passengers involved in the accident.
  • The name and badge number of the police officer, if police were present at the accident scene.
  • Witness statements.
  • If you or the other driver have any previous traffic citations or violations of the law on record, this will be included in the police report.
  • If the police fill out the report, it will likely include a diagram or detailed drawing of the accident, as well as photographs of the accident scene.
  • Location and severity of the property damage.
  • Weather, road, and visibility conditions at the time of the accident.

What Are the Benefits to Filing My Own Police Report?

Ideally, a police officer will arrive at the scene of the accident, interview you and the other motorist, and fill out an official police report. However, if police do not respond to the call, there are a number of important reasons why you should file a police report, including the following:

  • Depending on the nature of the accident, injuries or damage to the vehicles may not be apparent at the scene of the accident. This is particularly true of injuries, since the adrenaline that is coursing through the body can often mask the symptoms of some injuries. Filing a police report will ensure that an official report is on file, which will be helpful for a personal injury claim if injuries appear later.
  • When you and the other driver are sharing information immediately following the accident, you may agree about who or what caused the accident. If there is no police report on file, and the other driver changes his or her story and argues that you are partly or entirely liable for the accident, it will be more difficult for you to prove that the other driver was at fault.
  • Having an official police report on file can help ensure that the insurance claims process goes as smoothly as possible. In addition, if the other driver decides to file a personal injury lawsuit against you, he or she may have a more difficult time proving that you were at fault for causing the accident if there is an official police report in file that includes a detailed account of what happened, including photographs, witness testimonials, and initial statements from both motorists involved in the accident. If a police officer does not come to the accident scene, it is highly recommended that you file your own police report. In addition, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced car accident lawyer who can assist you with the claims process and ensure that your legal rights are protected.

Baltimore Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Assist Car Accident Victims with the Claims Process

If you were injured in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will walk you through every step of the claims process and address all your questions and concerns. If police were not present at the scene of the accident, we will obtain the evidence necessary to strengthen your claim and secure the financial compensation you deserve. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.