Car accidents are overwhelming, stressful, and emotionally taxing events, yet they still must be handled properly.
The police report written at the accident scene is essential to any future personal injury claim’s foundation. Despite the adrenaline, victims must ensure they’re not only providing as much useful information as possible but avoiding certain phrases of speech to protect their future legal rights.
Preparation is key. Continue reading for the legal side of speaking with a police officer following a car accident.
Should I Call 911 After a Car Accident?
Yes, especially if you are hurt. Once you can remove yourself from the scene, call 911 and wait in a safe location. Then, you’ll speak with police, visit a medical professional for treatment, and begin to consider your legal options.
It’s important to visit a doctor after an accident of any caliber, even if you think your injuries are minor. If you choose to forgo treatment at the scene, your jurisdiction's statute of limitation laws come into play, and you risk losing the opportunity to take legal action.
At the scene, you must provide as much relevant information as possible. You’ll inform the officer of the events leading up to the accident and how you were affected, but you should not speculate about potential motives/behaviors or admit fault in any way.
What Information Should I Give to Police After a Car Accident?
The police report is a formal document containing the file details of your accident in the moments following. It’ll outline property damage, bodily harm, and information surrounding the events that led up to the accident, including eyewitness testimony.
There are things you should and should not say. The officer on scene may ask for the following:
- Your name, date of birth, and contact information
- Who was involved, including what vehicle they were driving
- Details about injuries, pain, or discomfort you’re experiencing
- The time of the accident
- How the accident occurred
They’ll also collect testimony from other witnesses, retrieve available photo/video evidence, and organize medical care for injured parties.
What Should You Say to the Police After a Car Accident?
Once you provide your name, registration, and driver’s license, you aren’t required to speak with the police any further. That’s not to say you should obstruct justice or act aggressively, as this can lead to further legal trouble.
You can respectfully state to the police officer that you don’t wish to answer further questions until your attorney is present. This is a legal right you have, so don’t feel like you’re “acting guilty” by exercising the rights that protect you.
If you do choose to speak with the police, tell them facts and details that you know, not anything you suspect or aren’t 100% sure of. Speculation muddies the facts and questions the truth you provide to the authorities.
What Should You Not Say to the Police After a Car Accident?
You must be honest and truthful with the officers on scene, but there are a few things you should avoid speaking about, including:
- Admission of fault
- Speculation and otherwise dishonest answers
- Conversations with other parties on scene
Simply saying, “My bad” or “I’m sorry,” to anyone at the accident can later be used against you as an admission of fault. Although adrenaline may be running high, you need to speak carefully and calculated to protect your best interest.
What Should I Do After Speaking With the Police?
Ask for identification information from the officers on scene and request to receive a police report. If there are conflicts, you can also request this information by calling the relevant precinct.
Anyone involved in a car accident is entitled to a copy of the police report as well. It can take anywhere from one to two weeks, but once you receive it, you need to review the document for any errors or inconsistencies.
Make note of each error you find. Then, you should start to explore your legal options, as the following steps will require the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Contact Morgan and Morgan
Car accident litigation requires a strongly built case. At Morgan and Morgan, we build every case up the right way, starting at the beginning of your claim, to give clients the best possible chance of reaching a successful outcome.
Don’t gamble with your rightful restitution by proceeding alone. Complete our free, no-risk case evaluation to learn more about how our team can help.