Even minor automobile collisions like fender benders can leave you shaken and confused. Although you probably know to gather information from the other driver, you may not know if it's necessary to contact the police in the event of a minor collision.
Should you call the police after a fender bender? Is your accident is serious enough to warrant a 9-1-1 call? Will the police even show up if no one is hurt? Here are a few things you should know about reporting fender benders to the local authorities.
Always Call the Police
If no one was hurt in a fender bender, you might think it's okay to simply "work it out" without the police, or even insurance companies getting involved, so as to avoid complications that could raise insurance premiums. This, however, is a mistake. You should ALWAYS call 9-1-1 or contact your local sheriff's department in the event of an automobile collision. There are a couple of reasons to do so.
For starters, it is the law in some states, and if you don't know what your state requires, you should always err on the side of caution to avoid legal troubles, whether you're at fault or not. Even if it's not required for every accident, most states require that law enforcement be notified in specific circumstances, such as if there is an injury or if damages exceed a certain dollar amount.
Since you may not know if you've met these conditions in the wake of an accident, it's best to call the police, just in case. What if someone complains of pain or injuries after the fact and you didn't call authorities? Or it turns out there was unseen frame damage that increased the cost of the accident? You won't have to worry about these scenarios when you call the police.
What if Police Won't Come?
In some cases, especially busy urban areas, police may have more pressing matters that prevent them from coming to the scene of your fender bender. What should you do in this case?
Proceed to gather information at the scene yourself. This will include collecting names and contact information for the driver and passengers in the other vehicle, as well as any witnesses at the scene. You'll need to get the insurance information of the other driver, as well, and you should take pictures of the other car (including the license plate), damages to both vehicles, and the scene (for reference, if needed).
From there, you can go to the nearest sheriff's station and file an accident report. You and the other driver can get copies of this report for your insurance providers to help facilitate the payment of claims.
If you get in an accident, no matter how minor, you should always call the police and/or file a police report so as to protect yourself and prepare for filing a claim with your insurance provider.