Car Accident Lawyer
If you’re in an accident, the first thing that should happen is a call to the police.
A police report can make a stronger case for property damages even in a minor car accident, and in the event of a more serious crash, it can provide evidence that can help ensure that you’re properly compensated for any injuries you may have sustained. But what should you say to the police when they arrive?
How to respond to officers after a crash
Legally, the only information you need to share with police after a car accident is your name, your license and vehicle registration, and your proof of insurance. Drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence must also submit to a breathalyzer or blood test to measure the amount of alcohol or drugs in their system, and if officers ask, drivers and passengers are required to exit the vehicle.
Generally, how you answer an officer’s questions is up to you.
In some cases, it will be fairly easy for responding officers to determine who was at fault in an accident, especially if your vehicle was hit from behind or all evidence shows that the other driver suddenly pulled out in front of you, leaving you unable to stop in time to prevent the accident. Damage to vehicles, witness statements, and other crash site evidence will usually tell the story of an accident, as any subsequent tickets police officers may issue will reflect that.
If that’s the case, and you’re clearly not at fault, it’s okay to speak fairly openly to officers. There’s no harm in speaking to the police if there is nothing at stake and there is no chance that you might incriminate yourself.
In other cases, however, when it is not as evident who is responsible after an accident, it is important that you select your words carefully when speaking to a police officer. The wrong words could result in your being blamed for an accident that was not your fault.
If a situation is ambiguous, you may want to wait to speak to officers until after you’ve spoken with an attorney who can advise you on what to say based on your circumstances.
It’s especially important not to suggest that you might be in at fault in any way because an officer will include that information in his or her police report, and it will be the first information insurance companies will see, putting you at risk of losing your insurance coverage if your company is forced to pay out.
Most of all, keep calm
One of the most important things to do is to stay calm, especially if you’re feeling angry because of any damage that your vehicle sustained or if you were injured.
Reacting calmly will ensure that your interactions with officers go well, and won’t twist the way an accident scene might be viewed.
After all the information has been gathered, you should ask the officer for his or her name and badge number so you can get a copy of the police report. In the event of a car accident, that report serves as evidence that will be used by your insurance company – or your car accident lawyer – to get the other driver’s insurance to pay.