Almost every driver in the US will, at some point, be involved in at least a minor accident. However, when a collision 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 collision or an 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 easy because it depends on who you are and what caused the accident. However, if you ever find yourself in a situation like this, there are a couple of things you should be mindful of before deciding to talk with the police.
What Does the Law Require?
Fortunately, 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 be arrested and then face criminal charges.
It is also important to note that every state in the US, including California, has implied consent laws that require drivers who are suspected of DUI or driving under the influence submit to a breath or blood test. The objective is to determine the amount of alcohol in their blood or system. Officers have the right to ask and insist that everyone in the vehicle exit right away.
However, if it comes to answering any questions by the officers, that’s up to you. Whether you talk to the police primarily depends on what the situation calls for when the time comes.
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:
- At what time did the accident happen?
- Names, phone numbers and other information about those involved in the accident
- Get statements from witnesses at the scene of the accident
- Get statements from all parties
- Get the registration, VIN and other information about the vehicles involved in the accident
- A description of any environmental and road issues
- Try to find if there is surveillance footage or video made on a phone or cameras onboard the vehicles of the accident
- Take note of any injuries
The police will also try to find out how the accident initially happened, and that goes into their report.
When Should You Speak to the Police after An Accident and When to Keep Quiet?
Now the first thing you need to make sure of is that you are not rude to the officers. 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.
In some cases, there is no harm done if you speak to the officers. If you are not the faulty driver, it does not hurt to the speak to the police because you’ve not broken any laws and so there is no reason to be hesitant. However, in most accidents, it is rarely clear who was at fault, and so you might be responsible for the accident or may have been involved in a traffic violation but don’t know it yet. Thus, the goal is to not say anything that may incriminate you or may show that it is your fault. It is very easy to end up saying the wrong thing, especially if your adrenaline is pumping and you are confused. That’s why we advise people who are involved in accidents and are in doubt to keep quite.
Many people who are innocent or perceive themselves to be innocent assume that by choosing to be 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. That’s why not choosing to talk could lead some officers to be irritated at you. However, it is a small price to pay if it keeps you out of prison and potentially paying a hefty fine.
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 criminal proceedings.
Most police reports are used in personal injury lawsuits, and it is used by prosecutors to decide if they should file criminal charges against those accused of the accident. So, whatever you say could be used against you. That’s why never admit fault or say something potentially incriminating until you’ve had the chance to speak to a car accident attorney.
Ask the Police for a Copy of the 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.
Always Get an Attorney Involved
Whether you were the cause of an accident, a victim, or one of the many motorists who were part of a multi-car crash it is important to contact an accident attorney right away. The sooner you get an attorney on board, the easier it is to deal with the fallout of any court proceedings and settlement claims. Your choice of speaking to the police should all boil down to the situation on hand. But when in doubt keep quite.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact our firm today at (800) 818-1818. Our skilled team of legal professionals can help build your case and recover maximum compensation for your injuries.
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