Can Someone Sue Me for a Minor Car Accident if There’s No Police Report?

You should take any car accident should be taken seriously, regardless of how minor it is. Just because the police don’t show up at the scene doesn’t mean you’re off the hook or the other driver won’t sue you. A police report is a written account of what witnesses told the officer, along with the driver’s observation of the extent of damage, bodily injuries, and weather conditions.

The report carries a lot of weight, but it sometimes may not be admissible in court if the officer didn’t observe it in person. If you were at fault in a minor car accident, a skilled personal injury lawyer in San Antonio advises that you get a police report for various reasons. Here’s what you should do after the crash:

Check for Injuries

You should treat a minor car collision in the same way you would a more severe crash. That may seem like too much time and attention, but having a detailed record of the accident’s events is crucial. It starts with proper documentation of even the most minor details, as an experienced San Antonio auto accident lawyer explains.

Check yourself, your passengers, and other parties involved in the accident for injuries. Call 911 and request medical assistance without ruling out the possibility of bodily injury at this stage. A minor collision could spike adrenaline that masks pain response, with injury symptoms showing up much later.

Get Out of Harm’s Way

If your car is still in a condition to be driven, pull it over to the side of the road to prevent causing a potential road hazard to other users. If it’s not safe to drive, get yourself and other passengers to the side of the road.

Document the Accident

You must collect evidence of the crash even when you’re at fault. The information can help your San Antonio personal injury lawyer prove that the accident was minor if the other party decides to sue you. Take photos of the vehicles in the collision from as many angles as possible, including the license plates and any visible damage.

Exchange Contact information and Insurance Details with the Other Driver

You’re probably shaken up after the accident and don’t know how the other driver might react. Try to calmly and professionally initiate contact and ask for their contact details and insurance information as soon as it’s safe to do so. Their phone number, name, insurance company, and details of other passengers in their car might be necessary later.

File an Accident Report with the Police

Texas laws require that you file a crash report if the accident results in fatal injuries, property damage worth $1,000 or more, or death. Failure to report a car accident could lead to penalties of up to $5,000 or imprisonment.

Filing a police report isn’t required all the time, especially under the following circumstances:

  • The police are not at the scene, and you didn’t call them: As a rule, you should call the police even if no one is hurt in the accident. Law enforcement officers should inspect the wreck and fill out the required reports.
  • The damages are insignificant: Most drivers do not report damages less than $1,000, even if the police officers are present.
  • No one sustained bodily injury.
  • The accident happened on private property.

However, leaving the accident scene without one might subject you and the other driver to lower insurance payouts should either party decide to pursue compensation. A problem may arise if the other driver later creates a different version of the incident and relays it to your insurance company.

Potential Consequences of Not Having a Police Report

Not reporting a car accident, even a minor one, can have several disadvantages:

  • It can lead to disagreements later if the other driver pursues legal action against you, even if you both agreed at the accident scene that the crash was minor. It may escalate into costly legal action.
  • Lack of a police report means there’s no official record of the accident, making it hard for you to file an insurance claim for any damage to your car
  • Not reporting the accident can make either party withhold crucial information about the incident and how to prevent it in the future

A skilled auto accident attorney in San Antonio would advise you to file a report after any car accident, even if you think it’s minor.

What Happens to My Insurance if I Don’t Report a Minor Accident?

Failure to report a car accident to the police or your insurance company could have a few possible consequences:

  • Your collision insurance coverage rates could hike if the other driver files a claim with their insurer
  • If you get into another accident and file a claim, your insurance company could refuse to pay for failure to disclose the earlier incident.
  • Your insurance renewal rates could be higher for not reporting an earlier accident that should have been on your driving record.

If, by chance, you lack a police report, insurance claim adjusters will still review the evidence to discover who was negligent. They’ll try to rebuild the scene by themselves. What will lack in their investigation report is the lack of additional support of a police officer’s opinion concerning the accident.

Generally, it’s best to let your insurer and the police know if you get into an accident, no matter how minor. The report can protect you from complex and costly legal consequences later on.

An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Protecting Your Rights After a Minor Car Accident

It’s easy to assume that it’s unnecessary to report a minor accident to the police, but this could be damaging in the long run. The people involved may not immediately show signs of injury, but they could develop symptoms later, further complicating the situation. You may also get in trouble with your insurance company if it later learns about the accident.

It’s best to consult an auto accident lawyer in Texas as soon as possible after an accident if you don’t know what to do. They can provide the legal counsel and assistance you need to navigate the situation and protect your rights. Call the Law Office of Matthew S. Norris at (210) 549-7633 to schedule a FREE case assessment.