Should You Call the Police after a Car Accident?
Car accidents are confusing events, and many people are so flustered that they don’t know what to do in the moments following one. Some people even forget to call the police to report an accident. That is a definite mistake. At Karnas Law Firm, we have helped hundreds of people seek compensation following a car accident. Failure to call the police after a crash can impede your ability to receive fair compensation and make settlement negotiations much more difficult. In fact, you might end up with no compensation for the collision, all because you didn’t call.
Under Arizona law, a private citizen is not required to report an accident to the state. But there certainly are practical reasons why it makes sense to do so. Below, we highlight the primary reasons you should call.
An Officer Can Document the Accident
When it comes time to make an insurance claim, you want proof that the accident actually happened and that you were hit by someone. A police report is an excellent piece of evidence to have. Without it, your insurance company might assume that you simply drove off the road or fell asleep and hit a tree. In that situation, they might refuse to pay compensation on the ground that you are at-fault for the crash.
Make sure to call the police immediately after an accident. An officer can come out and create an accident report. Helpfully, Arizona law gives anyone involved in the accident the right to a copy. Section 28-667(C)(6) of the Arizona Revised Statutes instructs the police to provide a copy on request to anyone involved in the crash, as well as their insurer. If you never call the cops, then there’s no reason an accident report will get created.
An Officer Can Talk to Witnesses
Few car accidents are caught on camera, so eyewitnesses plan a critical role in many car accident cases. Witnesses can tell the insurance companies what happened. Which driver ran a red light? Which driver refused to yield? These questions matter when it comes to assigning fault for the crash and determining who needs to pay compensation.
To be sure, you can certainly talk to any witness yourself. But they might not stick around to talk to you, or you could be in so much pain that you can’t walk around and ask people what they saw. This is why you should call the police. Tell any witness who wants to leave that you’ve called the cops and hope that they will stick around to talk.
As part of the investigation, an officer can interview witnesses and get their names. Later, your attorney can use the accident report to track down witnesses and follow up.
The Police Can Request a Breath Sample from a Drunk Driver
If you think a drunk driver hit you, then you’ll want proof. You can seek compensation from the driver, and possibly even request punitive damages because they were driving while intoxicated or high. However, you’ll have the burden of proving the driver was impaired.
An officer at the scene can investigate a suspected DUI. The officer might also put the driver through some field sobriety tests, like balancing on one foot or walking in a straight line. They can also ask the driver to give a breath or urine sample, which should show the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or the presence of drugs. You can typically use these test results in your civil lawsuit against a motorist who hit you, and without these results it’s much harder to show a driver was negligent.
The Police Can Protect You from a Dangerous Driver
Some accidents are caused by drivers in the grip of road rage. Was the person who struck you tailgating aggressively? Or did they lay on the horn while cutting you off? If so, they could be blinded by rage. As soon as they step out of the car, you can usually tell if they are violent.
This is another reason to call the police. Report the accident while staying in your vehicle and provide the police station with your location. An officer should come out unless the accident is truly minor.
Contact Karnas Law Firm Today
After calling the police, your next call should be to an experienced law firm. Karnas Law Firm has assisted many accident victims with settlement negotiations. Even if you were not at fault, you can face many challenges getting the compensation you deserve. Our car accident attorneys have years of experience working with insurance companies, so please call us at your earliest convenience.