Car accidents often have unpredictable outcomes. Fortunately, not all of them will result in severe injuries or significant damage to one’s property. Because of that, a lot of drivers prefer to settle things themselves and skip calling the police over a minor car accident.
But, is it a good idea?
Here’s what could happen if you don’t have a police report after a car accident.
When Should the Police be Called?
Even though some accidents don’t require the police to be present at the scene, it’s important to know what the state laws say about this. Each state has certain circumstances when the police must be called after a car accident.
In Missouri, the circumstances in which the police must be called at the scene are:
- Accidents resulting in injuries, fatalities or property damage that exceeds $500
- Accidents that involve uninsured drivers.
If the accident meets one of the conditions above, then you have 30 days to file a police report.
No matter what the nature of your accident was, we strongly recommend to call the police anyway and get a written report, even when it was only a fender-bender accident. A police report weighs greatly in court or when negotiating with the insurance company.
What Happens if a Police Report Doesn’t Exist?
If the drivers involved in the accident concluded that the crash was minor with no real damage, they might decide to solve the incident between themselves. While this might seem like a good idea at that moment, later you might regret not having a police report to base a personal injury case or a property damage suit on.
The trouble with not calling the police on the spot is that you have no way of telling if things will not get worse in time. This applies to both injuries and property damage.
When it comes to property damage, you might not have a clear idea of the actual value of future repairs. Your car or the other driver’s car might seem fine, but you may discover some hidden issues later on.
Similarly, you might have injuries that don’t show any signs at first. Internal injuries like whiplash, other soft tissue injuries or even internal bleeding can show symptoms a few hours, days, and even weeks after the accident. If there is no police report, it will be your word against the other driver’s word. You could also gather testimonies from eyewitnesses, but they might not remember things accurately.
If you still have time to file a police report after your accident, don’t hesitate to do it, as it can help prove liability and protect you against a “he said-she said” case that can leave you with big expenses to take care of on your own.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your car accident, it is always in your best interests to discuss your case with an experienced St. Louis car accident attorney. They can help ensure your legal rights are protected after an auto accident.
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