The average driver is involved in 3 to 4 accidents throughout their lifetime. Chances are, by the time you turn 30, you will probably have been in at least one auto accident. Vehicle accidents are unsettling for everyone involved. Even minor accidents can shake you up and get your heart racing as you try to resolve the situation.
One of the common questions those involved in an accident often ask is, “do I need to call the police?” In Alabama, you are required to call the police to the scene of an accident if the accident results in a personal injury, fatality, or property damage exceeding $250. This is what the law says, and although you may not be required to call the police for every motor vehicle accident, it is usually a good idea to do so.
There are several reasons why you should call the police to the scene of an accident in Alabama, here are 3 of the most important:
Injuries are Not always Known Right Away
One reason it is generally best to contact the police after a motor vehicle accident is that, although it might appear that nobody was hurt, some injuries are not felt right away after an accident. This is often due to the adrenaline rushing through people that were involved in a collision. Just like an athlete who continues playing in a game after getting hurt, people involved in an accident may not feel their injuries until several hours later. By contacting the police, you will ensure that you are following the law in the event that someone ends up with a personal injury.
The Police Provide Third-Party Documentation
Whenever you are involved in an accident with someone you don’t know, you never know how they will end up handling the situation. For example, everyone may be friendly and polite to each other at the time of the accident, but later on, people might change their stories. By getting a police report, you have third-party verification of the events that occurred which resulted in the accident. This helps protect everyone involved, and if you do end up being hurt, the police report can be used as one of the pieces of evidence if you decide to pursue an injury claim.
A Police Report Makes It Easier to Prove Fault
If you are involved in an auto accident in Alabama, you will need to prove that the other party was 100% at-fault in order to obtain compensation for your injuries. This is because of Alabama’s “contributory negligence” legal doctrine. Under contributory negligence, if an injured party is found to be even 1% liable for the underlying accident, they can be barred from recovering damages. This is why a police report is critical with these types of cases. You will need this and other forms of evidence to prove your case.
What Else should I Do at the Scene of a Car Accident in Alabama?
In addition to contacting the police, there are several other steps you should take immediately after an auto accident:
- Call 911: As mentioned earlier, many injuries are not immediately apparent after a vehicle collision. Even with a minor collision, it is best to have everyone checked out to make sure they are all okay.
- Document Everything: It is helpful to have a police report, but it is also a good idea to have your own documentation as well. Take multiple photographs of the scene from as many angles as possible to show exactly what happened. And if you happen to have a dashboard camera, make sure to capture the video footage of the incident. Finally, whenever it is convenient, write down in as much detail as possible what happened. After the police report is filed, obtain a copy and cross reference it with your own report to make sure any mistakes on the police report can be corrected.
- Report the Accident to your Insurer: Contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident to report what happened. Do not admit any fault to your insurer or anyone else, leave that to the experts to sort out. Just give them the facts about the incident.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you or any of your loved ones have any type of injury resulting from the accident, it is important to speak with a skilled personal injury lawyer. A seasoned attorney can thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options. Alabama has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, so the sooner you speak with an attorney, the better your chances of recovering full and fair compensation.