Most drivers get into an accident at some point in time. In fact, it’s common for the average driver to get into three or four accidents in their lifetime. Even though accidents are common they can be unsettling, even if you aren’t injured. When your heart is pounding and your life flashes before your eyes, it’s hard to think clearly. One thing drivers often wonder about is whether they need to call the police after a car accident. The truth is that it depends but an Alabama car accident attorney can help you with that question.
There are circumstances in which you are legally required to call the police. In some cases, you may need to contact the sheriff or the state highway patrol instead. Under Alabama Code Section 32-10-5, you must notify the authorities when the accident results in injuries or fatality. It is also a good idea to call the police if the crash causes property damage in excess of $250. However, the law only requires that you move off the roadway if you can safely do so and exchange insurance information.
There are three key reasons why you should call law enforcement even if it’s not mandatory.
Even if it seems like you weren’t hurt, you need to remember that some symptoms don’t show up right away. This may be due to the adrenaline running through your body. Several hours later when you stop moving and you calm down, you may begin to feel pain. There’s also the possibility that a doctor can detect injuries even when you don’t feel hurt. That’s why it is important to go to the doctor as soon as possible after the crash. When you contact the police, you have evidence linking the accident to your injuries.
If you intend to seek compensation for your injuries, you need to support your account of the accident with evidence. Even if the other driver is nice to you at the scene and they promise to pay your bills, there is no guarantee they will follow through. The first step in holding them responsible is to get a third-party report on the crash.
When the police visit the scene, they will take statements and record their observations. Make sure you get the responding officer’s name and badge number as well the station where they are based. This is so you can get a copy of the accident report later. It may take up to ten days for the report to be made available online. You’ll have to pay a small fee.
To get compensation for property damage or injuries, you need to prove the other party was completely at fault. This is because Alabama follows a contributory negligence system. If you are found to be even slightly at fault for the accident, you may be barred from seeking compensation. The police report can help you to prove your case against the other person.
While the police report is important, it’s not the only thing you need to help you recover damages. You also need to collect your own evidence. If you are physically able, take multiple photos of the scene from as many angles as you can. You should also collect contact details from eyewitnesses.
If you call an attorney from the scene, they may be able to send an investigation to gather evidence. As soon as you can, write down what happened in detail. Your memory will begin to fade sooner than you think. Your attorney will also be able to advise you immediately on what else you need to do.
You also need to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Simply provide the facts without admitting any fault. The police, insurance company, and other experts will come to their own conclusions.
It can be very difficult to know what to do after a car accident. However, the good news is that you don’t have to figure it out on your own. The experienced attorneys at the Vance Law Firm can give you all the advice you need. All we ask is that you contact us as soon as possible so we can help you protect your rights. If you need help with an insurance claim or someone to represent you in court, contact us. Schedule your consultation today.