The laws surrounding car accidents and reporting requirements vary from state to state and, while some states always require a police report, Texas only requires drivers to file reports if there has been property damage over $1000 or an injury or death has occurred. Nevertheless, there are many reasons why filing a police report is a good idea after any accident.
Not only will getting a report help you document any damage or evidence from the scene of the crash, it will also give you the peace of mind of knowing you did everything you could to get an objective report and protect yourself after your accident.
Why Reporting Your Accident Is Such an Important Step
When a car accident occurs, it can leave victims confused and shaken for some time. On top of the stress of dealing with the incident on the scene, many victims also find themselves struggling with physical pain, medical bills, insurance issues and more. When it comes to receiving compensation after a crash, certain evidence is crucial to proving one’s claims and receiving the funds necessary to cover related losses. With an official accident report, this proof is much easier to provide.
The following are just some of the ways a thorough accident report can be beneficial for Houston area crash victims and their families:
- Provides valuable evidence for insurance companies and/or relevant legal proceedings
- Gives victims peace of mind knowing that all important information has been recorded with the authorities (and won’t be forgotten or changed)
- Offers an objective viewpoint of the accident, potentially offering more information than a victim can see on their own
- Responding officers can help victims stay calm and clear-headed during a difficult time, as well as guide them through next steps
- Officers can interview any available witnesses for supporting statements
Accident Reporting Helps More Than Just Victims
Unless there is substantial damage done in an accident, many drivers end up simply exchanging insurance information and driving away without a report. Unfortunately, this rush to get to one’s destination often means victims cheat themselves out of valuable support.
Choosing not to report also means that these accidents don’t get counted in state or federal crash statistics—something that can unintentionally have major effects on traffic safety laws. For example, if an intersection is a regular accident site but most drivers never bother to report their accidents, appropriate actions may never be taken to mitigate the risks there.
After the Crash: What to Do and How to Get an Accident Report
After your accident, collect yourself as best as you can before you call the police and try to take note of every detail you can as soon as you are able to focus. As soon as you are able, call the police and let them know there has been an accident. If anyone is injured, be sure to let them know you need medical attention.
While waiting for the police to arrive, don’t let anyone else at the scene convince you to “leave police/insurance out of things.” This could be a red flag that they won’t deal with you fairly. Similarly, don’t say anything that might be twisted to sound like an admission of fault, such as “I should have seen it coming.”
Information You’ll Need to Put in Your Report
In the state of Texas, the accident report form (Form CR-2) will require you to provide the following information:
- Home address
- Date of birth
- State of residence
- Driver’s license number (and issuing state)
- License plate number (and issuing state)
- Contact information of insurance policyholder
- Contact information of vehicle owner (to whom the car is registered)
- A summary of accident events and conditions (road, weather issues, etc.)
If any other information is required, the officer(s) taking your report should be able to guide you.
What if the Police Don’t Show Up?
In some cases, the police may not show up to the scene of the accident. It may sound strange, but the simple fact is that police resources are limited; they can’t respond to every call and still provide the best level of civil service. For this reason, they have to prioritize.
There are a few main reasons why your crash may not make the list of priorities for Houston police. Sometimes police will not be able to respond unless someone has been injured or the damage has exceeded $1,000 (as per legal requirements). They also may be limited by weather conditions or other extenuating circumstances that place other accidents or situations higher on the priority list than your accident.
If the police are unable to show up, do the best you can to create your own report by taking as many photos, videos, and detailed notes as possible. Make sure you exchange all necessary information with the other driver(s) involved and try to gather as much information as possible before leaving the scene. Your information may not be as objective as a police report, but photographic evidence can go a long way in proving your case.
Get Legal Help After Your Accident
No matter how thorough your police report is or how strong your photographic evidence may seem, there’s always the possibility that another driver will say the accident was your fault or your insurance company may deny coverage for your claims. The best way to protect yourself and get what you deserve as a victim is to seek professional assistance from an experienced Houston car accident lawyer.
At Johnson Garcia LLP, our accident attorneys have helped hundreds of Texas drivers get the compensation they need to cover medical bills, auto repairs, lost income, and other major losses during recovery. We can also work on a contingency basis, which means that our clients don’t have to pay us a penny unless we recover damages for them.
If you’ve been in an accident in the Houston area and need legal help, call us today at (832) 844-6700 to schedule your free initial consultation.