Almost every driver in the US will, at some point, be involved in at least a minor accident. However, when a car accident with serious injuries occurs, the police will show up to conduct an investigation. As the first step, the police start by speaking with the motorists who were involved in the accident.
The question that many people have and may possibly confuse them is if they should speak with the police? Should they answer any questions the police asks them? Also, if the talk, then how much should be said?
Answering these questions isn’t always easy because a lot depends on the facts of the car accident. And after a major accident, those involved may be injured or in a state of shock. If you ever find yourself in this situation, here are some tips on how to respond to the police.
What Does the Law Require?
First, the law does not mandate that either motorist involved in an accident speak with the officers at the scene. However, you shouldn’t be completely non-respondent to the officers by refusing to talk with them. Motorists should comply with the officer’s request to show them their license, insurance and registration. Those who do not comply with this request could face criminal charges or even be arrested.
What Do the Police Want to Collect After an Accident?
Most police reports are pretty straightforward. When the police arrive on the scene, their objective is to collect the following information:
- The time the accident happened
- Names, phone numbers and other information about those involved in the accident
- Statements from witnesses at the scene of the accident
- Statements from all parties
- The registration, VIN and other information of the vehicles involved in the accident
- A description of any environmental and road issues
- See if there is surveillance footage or video made on a phone or cameras onboard the vehicles of the accident
- Note of any injuries
The police will also try to find out how the accident initially happened, and that goes into their report.
When to Speak to the Police after An Accident and When Not to
Now the first thing we need to point out is; don’t be rude to the officers or anyone else at the scene of the accident. Regardless, of if you’ve decided not to answer any questions, being rude only makes matters worse. If you don’t want to talk, tell the officers that you will not be answering any questions until you’ve spoken to an attorney.
Now, if you were traveling as a passenger in any of the vehicles involved, it’s advisable to speak to the police about the accident. Since you weren’t driving, you won’t share any of the blame for the accident. In fact, speaking to them can greatly help your claim.
In most accidents, it is rarely clear who was at fault. An accident can have many moving parts and happen very quickly. In the immediate aftermath, it can be difficult to know exactly what happened and who was to blame. Your main objective should be not to say anything that puts the blame on you. It’s very easy to slip up and say something wrong. And don’t apologize to anyone! Apologizing can be seen as an admission of guilt by the insurance company and the other parties involved.
Many people who are innocent or perceive themselves to be innocent assume that by being quiet, they are giving the police the impression that they are guilty. That is not the case. The police understand that people have the right to be silent, yet at the same time, they are doing their jobs by trying to find out what happened.
Now if you’ve decided to answer any questions, you should be mindful of what is said. All police offers take note of everything that’s said, and it becomes part of the legal record. So, anything you say can and will be used in any legal proceedings.
Ask the Police for a Copy of the Traffic Collision Report
After an accident, you always want to ask the police for a copy of the report. You should be able to receive a copy within 10 days of the accident. When you get the copy go over it carefully to ensure that all the details on there are correct. If there are mistakes or information isn’t compete, you need to ask the police to revise their report.
While police reports aren’t admissible in court, it is used by insurance companies, or car accident attorney, to determine if the claim is valid. So, any mistakes with the report could mean that your claim gets turned down.
What if a Police Report Was Not Filed?
Now the police can’t be everywhere, and sometimes a police report may not get filed. In cases like these, you will want to get in touch with the police to file a report. If you were part of the accident, there are a couple of things you’d want to collect:
- Use our list above of all the information that the police would collect
- Use your phone to take pictures of the cars, those injured and the site of the accident
- You will want to speak with witnesses and get their statement on your phone preferably a video
- Go through any video surveillance footage from nearby shops, restaurants etc.
The above information is used by the police to create an accident report. So, if your insurance claim is being denied and you weren’t able to file a report, then this is the best way to do it.
Have an Attorney from The Dominguez Firm by Your Side
If you suffered serious injuries in a car accident, be it as a driver or passenger, it’s important to call a personal injury attorney right away. The sooner you can hire a lawyer, the better. Of you don’t, it can seriously hurt your case. Vital evidence can be lost if too much time has passed and you can lose contact with any witnesses to your car accident. Your choice to speak to the police should depend on the situation at hand. But always remember to remain calm.
If you’ve been seriously injured in an auto accident, contact The Dominguez Firm today for a free consultation at (800) 818-1818. Our skilled team of nationally-recognized attorneys will fight to get you the maximum compensation you are entitled to for your injuries. Don’t wait, call us today!