If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of a car accident, there are a few steps you need to take to make sure you have a good legal standing in case of any future lawsuits or insurance claims. The first and foremost thing to do is to contact the police and to determine whether filing a police report is absolutely necessary after an accident, as provided by the knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Angel Reyes & Associates in Dallas, TX. Unless the accident is a minor scratch or bump, contacting law enforcement right away is always recommended.
The advantage of reporting the accident to the police is two-fold. Firstly, the official police report will feature an unbiased, objective retelling of the incident with accurate documentation of the liable driver. Secondly, the fact that you reported the accident and there is police documentation will help you when you file an insurance claim for financial compensation later on.
Is a Police Report Legally Required?
If you get involved in a car accident in the State of Texas, you have to file an official report with the police especially if someone was injured or died as a result of the accident. A police report is also required in case of damages of more than $1,000 in amount. If you are confident that your actions did not cause the accident, you should not delay reporting the accident to the police.
While it is easy to roughly gauge the value of damages and know if someone died as a result of the accident, the physical injuries can be especially tricky. Because of shock and the initial lack of pain, people tend to ignore or overlook internal injuries at the time of the accident. However, to safeguard your rights, it is better to file a police report even if the injuries are not immediately visible to you.
Failure to file a police report in case of an accident where there was either injury or death or damages more than $1,000 in amount can result in a hefty fine (more than $4,000) and imprisonment. It is, therefore, recommended that you report all accidents, no matter how minor, to the police as soon as possible.
How Can I Prevent Unforeseen Expenses?
It is a good idea to fill out a CR-2 Crash Report (Blue Form). It will help in a situation where you thought the expenses of damages were less than $1000 but then later turned out to be more.
It will also help you document the accident and use it as further evidence in any claim you might need to make. It is recommended that you fill out the CR-2 form within ten days of the accident and also have as much information as possible. It will add to the accuracy and legitimacy of the report if it is ever disputed. If you are partially at fault, you can still sometimes claim damages where the other participant was in the wrong.
In some cases, the driver at fault will try to offer you a settlement in exchange for not reporting the accident to the authorities. While it may sound like a good deal, especially if you are not visibly injured and your car has not incurred a lot of damage, likely, it will not work out in your favor long term. Accepting early settlements without involving law enforcement can lead to your rights getting compromised and even yourself being blamed for the accident in the future.
Contacting the authorities and filing a report can get things on the record in case any statement changes in the future. It also means that you will receive fair compensation in the future, one that is not offered in bad faith.