Is it really necessary to call the police after every car accident? What if the other driver offers to settle up for a few hundred dollars, right then and there? If there's not much damage to your car (or you don't care about the damage), should you just take the money and forget about getting the insurance company involved?
This is conundrum faced by many drivers, after the rear of a vehicle gets bumped in traffic or a parking lot. The other driver, anxious to avoid a hike in their car insurance, may hop out and offer a quick settlement, under the table and without the attention of the police. However, it's a very bad plan to accept such an offer. It exposes you to financial and legal penalties you may not be able to afford.
Here's what you need to know.
You May Be Legally Obligated To Call The Police
In many areas, you are legally obligated to call the police after an accident. Unless you are very sure that you don't have to call the police for a minor accident, you need to err on the side of caution. Otherwise, you can be cited for leaving the scene of an accident.
You Could Be Putting Yourself In A Financially Precarious Position
There are numerous types of soft-tissue injuries that can occur from what seems like a "minor" accident and no reliable way to know if you're actually hurt or not, until the adrenaline in your system caused by the accident wears out. If you allow the other party to walk away, in exchange for a little quick cash, you're essentially cutting yourself off from the benefits that his or her insurance company could provide, including medical coverage. In addition, your own car insurance can decline to cover any accident-related bills (like a hospital trip, x-rays, and doctors' visits), because you didn't file the appropriate police report.
You Need To Protect Your Legal Interests
Filing a police report is only sensible. Ultimately, you don't have to file an insurance claim, if you determine that you really aren't injured and the other driver agrees to pay for your car repairs. Should you find out that you're actually suffering from whiplash or another hidden injury, the police report will help establish the other driver's liability for your medical bills, lost wages, and other related expenses, and a car accident attorney can help you pursue a claim.