It only takes a second of distraction to cause an accident, even a minor one. But when you just scratch the side of someone’s parked car or tap bumpers in a busy parking lot, do you really have to wait for the police to come to the scene, or can you just drive off?
Like most questions about car accidents and insurance claims, the answer depends on the cause and extent of the accident, as well as who was most at fault.
When to Call Law Enforcement
In Indiana, you don’t have to call emergency services unless someone has been hurt in a car accident or the property damage amounts to $1,000 or more. That said, you must always stop and exchange insurance, driver’s license, and contact information with the other driver.
However, if you cannot find the other driver (hitting a parked car) after making a reasonable effort to do so, you must contact a law enforcement officer and leave the required information with him or her.
Some scenarios can involve heated exchanges or uncooperative drivers. If the other driver refuses to share insurance information and/or you suspect they don’t have insurance, you have the right to call a police officer to the scene to obtain this information.
Even under ideal circumstances, some car accidents are just serious enough to cause injuries that don’t show up right away. For accidents in which injury isn’t certain but is still possible (e.g., if a person hits their head hard but is still conscious and communicating), it’s always smart to call an officer to the scene to record that the accident took place. This way, if you develop any injuries (mental or physical) as a result of the accident, the other driver and their insurance company won’t be able to deny the accident actually happened.
Although it’s not always required for you to call law enforcement after a fender bender, doing so will help strengthen your insurance claim and personal injury case should any damages other than ones to your car appear after the accident. The officer’s police report adds legal standing to details reported at the scene and validates the location and time of the accident, as well as the parties involved.
When to Call the Insurance Company
Many people misunderstand what happens when they report a minor accident to their insurance company. Either they believe their rates will increase or they believe it’s “too small” for their policy to handle; it would just be simpler and cheaper to work it out person-to-person.
These misconceptions are wrong for a couple reasons. First, if you fail to report an accident to your insurance company and the other driver involved files a claim later on, you may be penalized for failing to report an accident in addition to having to pay for the claimant’s damages.
Second, your car insurance policy may require you to report accidents promptly or else face denial of coverage or other penalties. Hiding the truth from your insurance company may eliminate the possibility of gaining any compensation for your car’s damage and removes any leverage you may have had against the other driver’s claim.
In short, you should always notify your insurance company after an accident, even if you can’t even see damage on your bumper. It’s simply not worth the risk of having to pay out of pocket for the other driver’s claim.
Help from an Evansville Car Accident Attorney
Minor accidents happen all the time, and if you’ve been involved in one, you may want to shake it off like it’s no big deal. However, even small collisions can have serious mental and physical consequences, and downplaying your injuries can cost you. If you think you’ve been hurt in a car accident, Hensley Legal Group can help. Our Evansville car accident attorneys can file your personal injury claim on your behalf, saving you valuable time and energy while you recover. Contact us today for a free consultation of your case.