Did you know that there are around six million car accidents per year in the United States? Chances are, you’ve been involved in one of these crashes at some point in your life due to the high numbers of distracted or impaired driving or even just bad weather.
Being involved in a motor vehicle accident is a jarring, scary, and frustrating experience. You have to call law enforcement, exchange information with the other driver, hope that you’re not the one at fault, and eventually deal with insurance claims.
Because of all of the emotions that occur directly after an accident, filing an accurate crash report may be the furthest thing on your mind but it is extremely important to do so. We’re going to tell you what you should know about filing crash reports and why they are so important.
Keep reading for more information!
No Accident Too Small
When the light turned green, you hit your gas pedal, but the car in front of you didn’t start moving. You lightly tapped their bumper and there wasn’t much damage at all. The other driver said not to worry about it and both of you went on your way.
Although there was very little damage, you should still file a report about the incident. This is due to the fact that after you leave the scene, the other driver can decide to report the accident and make false claims about how the accident occurred.
Some drivers do this in order to file claims against your insurance or even to receive payment from their own uninsured motorists’ policy. If a claim is filed against your policy and the driver embellishes the story, your rates are likely to increase – and that’s if your insurance company doesn’t choose to drop you completely!
In the case above, you technically were the driver that rear-ended the other vehicle. This means that the driver can claim that you hit them and left the scene which is illegal in most states. In most states, a hit and run is a felony which can make the small accident turn into a major charge!
You May Not Realize Your Injuries Right Away
As mentioned, being involved in a car accident can cause your emotions to run high. Directly after the accident (even a small one), you will have a rush of adrenaline. This adrenaline can make it difficult, if not impossible to detect certain types of injuries.
When you decide to file a crash report, you are documenting the accident and what actually happened. This will make it easier to file any medical claims either with your own insurance or through the other driver’s insurance, if applicable.
Also, accident reports will involve police officers who are trained to spot injuries that you may not notice otherwise. This is often true with head injuries. Many people don’t realize that their sudden headache or dizziness isn’t due to adrenaline but instead are symptoms of a concussion. Police are able to point this out and help ensure that any injured individuals are checked out by medical professionals.
Accident Reports and Insurance
Filing a crash report doesn’t necessarily mean your auto insurance will increase, nor does it mean that you (or the other driver) have to file an insurance claim. All a crash report does is keep a record of the accident for all parties involved.
If you or the other driver is not choosing to file a claim with your insurance company, the chances of your auto insurance increasing are slim. However, you should still report the accident to your insurance company to make sure they aren’t caught off-guard by any surprise claims.
Filing Your Own Crash Report
Depending on your location and how much damage occurred, the police may not come to the scene. When this is the case, you can still choose to file a crash report on your own to ensure all involved parties have all the necessary information.
In states like Texas, the Department of Transportation requires an accident report within ten days of the incident. This report is kept on file for ten years and is available to you should there be any questions. Although Texas doesn’t mandate the reporting of all accidents, choosing to report a wreck can help protect you against any lawsuits filed at a later date.
It is important to note that the state of Texas does require reports to be filed for any accident in which damages are over $1000 or when an injury or death occurs. Most often, these reports are filed by police but can be filed by the individual as well.
Staying Safe on the Roadways
No one wants to have to deal with an automobile accident or the stress that comes with them. The best way to avoid these instances include not texting while driving, not driving while impaired, wearing a seatbelt, and following all local and state driving laws.
Of course, driving in inclement weather isn’t always avoidable but if you must, make sure that your vehicle is fit for the conditions. Periodically check your tires for proper tread and air pressure, check your windshield wiper blades, and have tire chains if you are in an area that receives snow.
Not every accident is completely avoidable but by choosing to stay safe and drive carefully, you can help limit your risks of being involved in a motor vehicle accident.