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Do I Need to Call the Police if the Car Accident Was Minor?

When You Should Report a Minor Car Accident to the Police

If you have any doubt whether you should call the police after a car accident, it is better to be on the safe side and call than to not call and wish you had later. The Rhode Island State Police recommends that you call 911 for the police even if there are no injuries.

Calling the police after a car accident might seem like an unnecessary hassle if the accident was minor, particularly in a large metro area when the police have more pressing issues to attend to and might take hours to respond to a fender-bender. It can be tempting to forgo the call and trust the other driver to work out any car repair or liability issues with you in private.

Every state has laws governing when drivers involved in accidents must call the police.  Before you exchange information and drive off without calling the police, keep a few things in mind if you are involved in a Rhode Island accident.

The Law Might Require You to Call the Police

This is not a complete list of the laws and considerations, but it is important food for thought. If you strike or injure a person in an accident you are required to call the police immediately pursuant to R.I.G.L. § 31-26-3.

You need to immediately notify the police if you are involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to a person, or if any vehicle is damaged enough to prevent normal and safe operation.  R.I.G.L. § 31-26-3.2.

You must immediately notify the police if you are involved in an accident with a bicyclist. R.I.G.L. § 31-26-3.3.

If you injure a domestic animal (such as a dog or cat), you have to give immediate notice of the accident to the owner of the animal if known or the police pursuant to R.I.G.L. § 31-26-3.1.

The Other Driver Might Not Cooperate

If the accident is minor, you and the other driver might decide to exchange phone numbers and insurance information and work things out on your own rather than calling the police.

Keep in mind you probably do not know this person, and as friendly and cooperative as they might appear at the scene, it is difficult to ascertain what their true motives are. Particularly if they were at fault for the crash, it is not out of the realm of possibilities that they might play nice at the scene to convince you not to have the police write an official report, then deny all responsibility later.

If you have any doubt, get the police involved. They can write up an official accident report, removing the need to trust that the other driver is being honest and up-front with you.

The Police Investigation Might Help Settle Disputes Over Fault

Rarely do motorists involved in an accident completely agree over who was at fault. It might seem obvious to you that the other driver caused the accident. For instance, you hit your brakes because a loose dog ran across the road and got rear-ended by the person behind you.

In your mind, the other driver was at fault, as it was their responsibility to notice that you had stopped (and for a good reason) and braked accordingly. But the other driver might claim that you were reckless for suddenly locking up your brakes in the middle of the road or even dispute the presence of the animal.

Situations such as these can get messy fast, especially when both drivers’ insurance companies get involved. A police investigation and report can cut through the mess and keep the other driver from unfairly shifting fault to you.

You Might Have Injuries Even if You Cannot See or Feel Them

Not all injuries appear right away. Some take days or even weeks to manifest. If you find out later that your wreck caused an injury but you did not get the police involved, it might be difficult to prove with a sufficient degree of certainty that your injury resulted from the crash. An official police report provides a key piece of evidence you might need down the road when pursuing the other driver for personal injury damages.

Your Insurance Company Might Require a Police Report

Read your car insurance policy carefully.  If you need to rely on your own insurance to pay for accident damages or injuries, it may require a timely made police report in order to make a claim.

For these reasons, it is preferable to err on the side of calling the police even when it might not be necessary rather than not doing so to save time and finding out later that you should have called.

For a Free Car Accident Case Evaluation Call Us Today

If you were involved in a car accident, the legal team at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick can protect your rights and help you win the compensation you deserve. To set up a free case evaluation, call us today at 401-331-6300.

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