Do I need to call police for a minor car accident?

If you have a minor car accident with another car or truck, call a personal injury attorney to give you direction.

If you have been in a car accident that did not involve another vehicle and you live in a “no fault” insurance state, you probably do not need to call police, because your own insurance carrier will be responsible for damages to your property and/or payments for medical treatment related to the accident.  However, it would be beneficial to take pictures of the scene, and any damage to your vehicle along with securing documentation of a medical evaluation to supply to your insurance company. If you are involved in an accident with another driver and become uneasy with their actions after a minor accident; if they seem to be drunk or under the influence of drugs, police should be called to the scene to quietly evaluate the situation.

Helpful information.

In “no fault” insurance states it is not necessary to call police after a minor accident because the property damage and medical bills, if any, that are related to the accident will be paid by the insurance company of each individual driver, although some states require motorists to call police anytime they are involved in an accident.  It is important to document relevant pictures of the scene and vehicles, and note information regarding other parties or circumstances relevant to the accident.  Make sure the officer provides you with a written statement of their findings at the accident scene, making note of the following information:

  • The officer’s name
  • The officer’s badge number
  • The officer’s phone number
  • The police report number

Property damage thresholds.

An attorney may help you file an insurance claim and could advise you on state thresholds.  It may be prudent to call police if you are uncertain regarding property damage thresholds, or if you cannot estimate that the accident only caused minor repair damage to a vehicle and in some cases, if you feel uneasy with the other driver or their post-accident actions when you are exchanging pertinent information. Sometimes damage will not be able to be assessed unless the underbody of a vehicle is looked at by autobody professionals.  Remember to take photos and take notes – Use your cell phone camera to take photos of the vehicles, the accident scene and any injuries. If you can do so safely, take pictures of the vehicles before you move them.  While it is still fresh in your mind, write down the details of the accident as you remember them.

Generally speaking, all states require calling police and filing an accident report if anyone is injured, or property damage exceeds a certain dollar amount as follows. Alabama $250; Alaska $2,000; Arizona $300; Arkansas $1,000; California $750; Colorado any amount of property damage; Connecticut $1,000; Delaware $500; D.C. $250; Florida $500; Georgia $500; Hawaii $3,000; Idaho and Illinois $1,500; Indiana $750; Iowa $1,500; Kansas $1,500; Kentucky $500; Louisiana $100; Maine $1,000; Maryland if not drivable; Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota $1,000; Mississippi and Missouri $500; Nebraska $1,000; Nevada any property damage; New Hampshire $1,000; New Jersey $500; New Mexico $500; New York, North Carolina and North Dakota $1,000; Ohio any property damage; Oklahoma $500; Oregon $1,500; Pennsylvania when vehicle is not drivable; Rhone Island, South Carolina and South Dakota $1,000; Tennessee $400; Texas and Utah $1,000; Vermont $3,000; Virginia $1,500; Washington $700; West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming $1,000.

Attorney consultation is valuable.

If you are uncertain about the requirements for insurance companies, and/or securing accident reports from police at the scene, contact a personal injury attorney who may be able to answer question you have or help you navigate your way for an insurance claim or legal action when necessary.