Do I Need to File a Police Report After a Car Accident?

After a car accident, you probably have a million questions. That’s only natural, and you can get many of those questions answered by contacting an attorney experienced in handling car accident cases.

One key question is whether you need to file a police report. The requirements are different depending on the jurisdiction you’re in and the type of accident. We’ll take a look at the requirements of the DMV below.

However, it’s generally best to call 911 and have the police come to document the accident, even if the law doesn’t require reporting. Let me explain why.

Why You Should Report an Accident

Drivers involved in accidents often try to get others to keep things informal. They may want to settle matters without getting the insurance companies or police involved. They are not saying this for your benefit – they are worried that they may get a ticket or that their insurance will go up.

You may sympathize with them, but it is a bad idea to go along with the suggestion, even if you don’t think you are injured. As time goes on, it may be difficult to prove what happened without a police report. The stories people tell about the accident may change. The person who hit you may claim to be injured and insist that the fault is yours.

A police report provides solid evidence you can rely on to protect yourself and to support your claim for damages if necessary. The police will get witness statements and take other steps to document the accident. You should still take photos and preserve evidence on your own, but you also want the help a police report can provide.

Requirements for Accidents in DC

DC law requires anyone in a collision to stop and assess the situation. If someone has been injured, those involved in the accident are supposed to call for emergency assistance and stay on the scene until police arrive. Then they are required to provide identifying information to police as well as to the injured person.

If the accident caused damage to property and those responsible can’t find the owner, then they are supposed to report the accident to the police. If there are no injuries and no property damage, DC law does not specifically require a report, although it is still a good idea.

According to DC statutes, when police take a report, they are supposed to record the insurer of each driver involved in the accident and the insurer of the owner of each vehicle involved in the accident. If a driver cannot provide proof of insurance, that creates a presumption that they are driving without insurance.

Requirements for Accidents in Maryland

In Maryland, drivers involved in an accident that results in injuries must file a written report within 15 days of the accident. They must also report evidence of liability insurance. However, if the accident was investigated by the police and the police filed a report, then the requirement to file a written report does not apply.

Requirements for Accidents in Virginia

Drivers of any vehicle involved in an accident in Virginia must immediately report the accident to law enforcement officials if anyone is injured. Accidents on any public road are supposed to be reported, but accidents on private property do not need to be reported to the police.

Help After a Car Accident

As noted earlier, it is wise to contact the police after an accident and get them to take a report to provide evidence to protect yourself. But there are many other steps you should take to preserve your ability to get the care you need and recover compensation for your losses. The experienced team at Johnnie Bond Law is ready to help. Just give us a call.