If you are involved in a car accident, you may be tempted to settle everything personally and avoid involving authorities. Here’s what you should know.
After a car accident, filing a police report is a safety net if there is any damage suffered by you, your passengers, or your property. In a compensation claim, the accident scene’s police report represents one of the most critical pieces of evidence you can provide.
In some cases, drivers may be tempted to settle everything personally and not involve authorities, often because there isn’t any visible damage, and they feel fine after the crash.
Are You Required by Law to File a Report?
First of all, it’s essential to know that calling the police at the scene becomes mandatory by law if the accident has caused any injuries or if the property damage exceeds a certain amount. In Missouri, you are required to call the police for any injury and property damage exceeding $500.
Other instances when you are required to file a report are being in an accident with an uninsured driver, the victim of a hit-and-run, or being the owner of a parked car involved in an accident resulting in injury fatality, or property damage exceeding $500.
The law is pretty straight-forward, but after you’ve been in a car accident, facts are not so easy to observe right away. Injuries might exist but don’t manifest symptoms until a few hours or days later. And it’s hard to assess property damage without a proper check at a car service.
Will You Pay a Fine for Not Calling the Police?
Not calling the police about an accident that meets the above conditions can result in a fine and a citation. You have 30 days to file a report, so if that amount of time was not exceeded, go to the nearest station and file the report.
It’s important to mention that you should also file a report to your insurance company about the accident, as soon as possible. Not doing so can result in increased premiums and the impossibility of receiving compensation for any injuries that appear later or property damage you didn’t notice at the scene. Insurance companies have strict deadlines for reporting accidents, so check your policy for this information.
What to Do If You Haven’t Filed a Report?
If, for any reason, you didn’t report the accident, check if you still have the time to do it. If you’re within the time limits imposed by the law and by your insurer, do it as soon as possible. Without a police report, filing a claim might be more difficult, but can be done by gathering all other crucial evidence, like medical records, witness accounts, and expert witness statements.
If you are in a situation like this, speak with an experienced St. Louis car accident lawyer as soon as possible. They can guide you through the claim process and help you get the compensation you deserve and need to move forward.