Do You Need To Call The Police Even For A Small Impact Crash?
Short Answer: Yes.
Long Answer: Police officers are trained to respond to the scene of a crash and evaluate what happened. Police officers are responsible for speaking with the different parties involved in the crash and determining what really happened (the best he/she can). A police officer will not only discuss what happened with the parties involved, but they should also look at the skid marks on the ground and the angels of the cars to ensure that the story being told matches what they see and what makes sense. If needed, the police officer will issue a citation to the person or persons who violated a law and caused the crash. Crashes typically do not occur unless someone violated a rule of the road placing other people in danger.
The most important thing that a police officer does is to write the Police Report. A Police Report is essential to the legal process going forward (although the actual police report will likely not come into evidence should the case go to trial). The police report is important because insurance companies rely heavily on what is included in the police report to determine fault. Keep in mind that whenever you are in a car accident there are likely legal ramifications that you will have to deal with days, months, or even years later. Your memory will fade but the police report will preserve what was said and what was seen to help you remember the details of the crash when you need them later on down the road.
Also, it is important to note that the fault determination made in the Police Report, and subsequently relied upon by the insurance company, will likely determine whether or not your insurance premiums go up or if you no longer qualify for auto insurance with your current carrier.
A brief story might illustrate the value of a Police Report. A man was driving out of a fast food restaurant when he stopped at a stop sign. A woman, speaking on her phone, impacted his vehicle from the rear while he was stopped at the stop sign. There was little damage to his vehicle so both agreed to part ways without calling a police officer to the scene. 6 months later the man received a call from his insurance company asking about the crash because the woman was making a claim against him for the injuries that her child sustained in the back of the car. She claimed that the crash was the man’s fault because the man stopped abruptly and then reversed his car into her car. Since there is no Police Report or officer’s testimony this becomes a classic “he said, she said” battle that could have been avoided had the man called a police officer to the scene of the crash.
Remember you do not necessarily call a police officer to the scene of a crash because you always need help at the scene, instead you need the Police Report that the officer will generate for the legal process that you will assuredly go through following the crash. If the crash is small you should still call an officer.