This article is by Niman Marcus, Director of Marketing at Zooomr – an NYC car lease company. If you are the victim in a car accident, you should always call the police following an automobile accident. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment and when adrenaline is running high, individuals injured in an automobile accident do not realize the actually are injured. They may feel fine in that moment, but may actually have sustained an unrealized yet serious injury. Even if the vehicles involved do not appear to have sustained any major damage, the force from the impact can cause major injuries that can come to light in the hours and days following the accident.
Therefore, it is crucial that law enforcement be called to the scene to collect the evidence and statements of the witnesses that will be crucial to your ability to effectively recover damages from the parties at fault should a lawsuit become necessary to make you whole. A police report assigning fault to the other driver is often a key piece of evidence that results in a favorable settlement or favorable verdict for an injured driver or passenger. But if the police are not called, even in situations where fault is easily assigned to the other driver like when that driver ran a red light or was operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it can be difficult to establish fault without a police report.
If the police are not called, the other driver can deny liability and even attempt to place blame on you or other faultless drivers. Law enforcement offers, when responding to the scene of automobile accidents, typically take the statements and contact information from witnesses who have stopped or are nearby to help determine whether to assign fault in a police report. And because many witnesses to automobile accidents are merely other drivers passing by the area at the time of the accident, finding witnesses in the days after the accident can be difficult or even impossible if the police have not taken their names, their statements, and their contact information.
Full and complete witnesses statements are often not reported in a police report, but with the witnesses contact information, an experienced los angeles car accident attorney can make early contact with the witnesses to the accident in order to obtain full statements about their knowledge of the accident and its causes. These statements, especially when taken soon after the accident, can be very helpful to a plaintiff in establishing the fault of the defendant. That is why it is critical to have the police called to the scene to investigate. Also important is contacting an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you know you have been injured so that the attorney may work quickly to obtain statements while the events of the accident are still fresh in the minds of the witnesses and before relevant evidence may be destroyed.
If you are involved in an accident and the other driver refuses to stay for the police or asks you not to call the police, you should still contact the police at the scene. Take a picture of the car and license plate of the driver who caused the accident and collect their insurance information if possible. Also take a picture of the car and license plate of any drivers who may have stopped to observe the accident and collect contact information from those potential witnesses if you can. Wait for the police to arrive at the scene and give them any information you have collected.
If you failed to contact the police and have them respond to the scene of an accident where you were injured, it does not mean you cannot proceed to attempt to recover damages from the party responsible for your injuries. It does, however, mean an attorney with experience dealing with these types of cases should be contacted early on to evaluate your case and help you take the appropriate next steps to protect your rights.