Car Accident – What Happens When the Police Arrive?

So you have been in a car accident and the police have arrived on the scene. You will be asked to show a valid driver’s license, current registration for your car and proof that the car is insured. Answer the questions the police officer asks and try to remain calm.

If you notice the other driver appears intoxicated or smell alcohol on him or her, be sure to mention this fact to the investigating officer.

Make sure the police officer notes in the report that you were wearing your seat belt. You will probably be asked if you had it on as part of the report procedure. If you noticed the other driver was not wearing a seat belt, mention this to the investigating officer.

Make a note of the investigating officer’s name, badge number and whether he or she is a city police officer, state police or parish/county sheriff’s deputy. Ask for a report or case number and where and when you can pick up a copy of the report. Be polite at all times.

Do not admit fault for the accident to anyone. Do not tell anyone how much insurance you carry. Do not sign anything. (You will have to sign the citation if you are issued a traffic ticket by the investigating officer. This signature is not an admission of guilt; you are merely acknowledging that you received the ticket.)

If the police officer issues a citation to the other driver, this does not assign the blame for the accident. The investigating officer is only giving his opinion as to what happened and whose fault he or she thinks it was. The officer still has to convince a judge or jury that the ticket was justified if the driver does not plead guilty. The ticket has no bearing on your case. The same result occurs if you are ticketed; the ticket is not proof that you caused the accident.

You should notify your insurance carrier as soon as you. The sooner they can begin processing your claim, the smoother the process can be.

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