So, you’ve been in an automobile accident, but you don’t want to deal with calling the police. Another vehicle might have hit yours after sliding on some black ice, or another car might have rear-ended yours and caused some minor damage. You know it’s going to cost some money, but can you still file an insurance claim without being able to produce a police report?
The short answer is that while it might be a hassle to call the police, the more proof you have, the better the chances your insurers—or the insurer of the at-fault driver, will pay your claim. You might have reached an understanding at the time of the accident.
You obtained the other driver’s contact and insurance information and went on with your day. But things can happen, and they could jeopardize your ability to obtain compensation.
The attorneys with Sand Law can help if you’ve been involved in a minor accident. If you’re having problems with an insurance company, we know exactly how to get results. Call us at 651-291-7263 or use our online contact form to get in touch.
Do You Need to Call the Police After a Car Accident?
Minnesota state law does not require people involved in automobile wrecks to always file a police report. If there were no injuries or fatalities, or the property damage doesn’t appear to be more than $1,000, then no report will be needed.
What if You Don’t Call the Police?
But just because you might not have to file a car accident police report by law, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t – it will actually be a good idea to call law enforcement.
While we would all hope that the other driver would give truthful information, the unfortunate truth is that it doesn’t always work out that way. That driver could give you a fake name or phone number or could give you a bogus insurance card. They might not return your calls or texts. Even if you see their driver’s license, that could be fake.
There’s also a chance that your insurance company – or the at-fault driver’s insurer – might require that a car accident police report be filled out before it will even start the claims process. Also, the at-fault driver might seem nice and honest at the scene of the accident, only to change their story after the fact.
Filing an Accident Report Yourself
If there’s no car accident police report, it will be your responsibility to notify your insurance company about the accident. What if your insurer, or the other driver’s insurer, questions your account of what happened? What kind of evidence will you be able to present to prove the wreck wasn’t your fault?
You could also run into a situation where the other driver gets back home, takes a closer look at their car, and realizes there was much more damage than originally thought. That seemingly nice person might wind up being anything but. They could actually try to sue you, claiming that you were to blame for the accident and you should have to pay for the damage. Without a police report, there’s every possibility you won’t have a leg to stand on should the matter go to court.
Can You File an Insurance Claim Without a Police Report?
As you learned earlier, sometimes “no” is the answer to that question. Some insurance companies will refuse to start a claim if there’s no police report. Even if your insurer doesn’t have that requirement, not having a report could cause major problems.
Minnesota is what is known as a “modified comparative negligence” state. This basically means that you may have to share responsibility. Any amount you would be rewarded will be reduced according to your share of the blame.
If, for example, your damage losses are $1,000. The amount isn’t larger than that, so you didn’t need to file a police report. If you are found to have been 20% to blame for the accident, then your potential compensation will be reduced by 20%, or $200. Instead of getting $1,000, you’d only get $800.
But what if you’re found to be 50% responsible, or even 100%? You could conceivable wind up with nothing. If the other driver’s damage came to $1,000, it’s possible you could actually end up owing money.
All this could have been avoided if you had called the police. The car accident police report could show that you weren’t to blame, so you could obtain the compensation you deserve.
Collecting Evidence to Back Up Your Claim
Of course, there’s every chance that the other driver in the accident is actually an honest person, and will completely accept blame. However, that likely won’t be the case. So it will be on you to provide the proof you need to show that the wreck wasn’t your fault. Taking photos and videos of the accident will help prove your case, as will getting on-the-record statements of any witnesses who might have seen what happened. But the police report will be an invaluable tool, one that could potentially sway the case to your favor.
Other Reasons an Insurance Company Might Deny Your Claim
About 3 million people suffer injuries in US car wrecks per year. When someone suffers an injury in an auto accident and learns the insurance company is refusing to pay, panic understandably sets in. Why would an insurer do this? These are a few of the more common reasons.
The insurer may argue the policy doesn’t cover “acts of God.” They could say the accident occurred due to a thunderstorm that made the road slick or a blizzard dramatically reduced visibility. The insurer may deny the claim because the weather caused the wreck, not the negligence of the other driver.
You must make sure your insurance claim is accurate and complete. The insurer can deny the claim if there are any missing documents, inaccuracies, or any other discrepancies. Errors are among the most common reasons insurers deny claims.
Disputes Over Blame
An insurance claim will often involve determining who caused an accident. You believe the other driver was at fault, but the insurer disagrees. The insurance company will refuse to provide compensation unless you have solid evidence to back your argument. This is one of the many reasons you must hire an attorney as soon as possible.
Failing to Seek Immediate Medical Help
Insurers will often use this against claimants. If you did not see a doctor right after the wreck, the insurance company may use that against you. They could say your injury is not severe or that you suffered that injury for some other reason. Getting medical help doesn’t just help your health. It also creates a record of the treatment you need.
Hire Sand Law as Your Car Accident Attorney
The most important thing you can do is hire a skilled attorney. Especially if you haven’t filed a police report. This will especially be true if you’re having problems with your insurance company. Without a police report or an attorney, your insurance company will very likely take advantage of you. It could try to get you to agree to an unfair settlement or simply deny your claim outright.
Take those risks out of the equation by talking to an attorney with Sand Law. We know how to gather the evidence needed to prove a case. And we also know how to deal with problem insurance companies. We’ll make sure your rights are protected at every turn.
Frequently Asked Questions
What steps should I take immediately following a car accident?
The first thing will be to get to safety immediately. If you can, move your car off the road. Check to see if you or anyone else is hurt, then call 911 to get medical help and summon the police. Get medical attention and then contact a car accident lawyer so they can investigate and gather evidence.
Do I need to hire a car accident lawyer?
You’ll need legal representation if you suffered an injury. An experienced attorney will know how to collect critical evidence and negotiate with insurers. If you don’t hire a lawyer, you’ll have no chance of obtaining the compensation you deserve. Accident victims who represent themselves often have to pay out of pocket for their accident-related expenses.
How much compensation can I recover for my damages?
You could obtain a substantial amount of money. However, that amount will depend on several factors. These include the severity of your injury, your lost wages, property damage, etc. A skilled lawyer will work to ensure you obtain maximum compensation for your suffering by holding accountable those responsible for the accident.