A lot may be going through your mind after a car accident. It can be easy to forget what you are required to do by law, such as reporting the accident to the police, in some cases. Although you do not need to report every car accident in Texas, you are legally obligated to report serious collisions. Learn the law so that you know when to call 911 after a crash.
Reporting Requirements in Texas
It can be important to report any car accident in Texas, even if it is minor. The police report can serve as an important piece of evidence. In Texas, however, you are only legally required to report a car accident if it is serious enough to meet the state’s threshold. This threshold is:
- Property damage valued at least $1,000 to any one vehicle.
- Any physical injuries.
- One or more fatalities.
If your car accident is serious enough, you must call 911 as soon as possible – typically from the scene of the car accident using a cell phone. Tell the police that a car accident has taken place and report any injuries, if applicable. Although state law in Texas no longer makes reporting a crash to the Texas Department of Transportation a requirement, you should still fill out the CR-2 Crash Report
for your own records.
What Happens if You Don’t Report Your Accident?
Failing to report a car accident when the law requires you to could result in legal penalties or even an arrest for an alleged hit-and-run. The typical penalties are a fine of up to $5,000 and/or jail time. You may face pressure from the other driver involved in your car accident not to involve the police – especially if the other driver knows that he or she caused the crash. Do not give in to this pressure, even if the driver offers to pay you directly for your medical bills and vehicle repairs.
What Will the Police Officer Do?
Some drivers wish to avoid reporting a car accident to the police for fear of facing penalties, tickets or fines connected to the collision. While it is true that an officer may ticket a driver who violated a traffic law – such as driving recklessly or running a red light – it is still important to tell the police. Even if you were partially at fault for the crash, you may still be eligible for some financial compensation from the other driver.
Obtaining a police report can go a long way toward strengthening your insurance claim. The reporting police officer will take notes about the accident. Later, back at the police station, the officer will fill out the Peace Officer’s Crash Report (CR-3)
. The police report will contain important facts and information about the crash, such as the name of the other driver, a description of his or her vehicle, license plate numbers, and the date and location of the crash. It may also contain the officer’s opinion of who caused the crash.
About 10 days after your crash, you should be able to request a copy of the police report to use during the insurance process. While still at the scene of your car accident, ask the police officer for your report number. Use this number and your personal information to request a copy of the report. Do so by calling the police station in the county where your crash took place. You may have to pay a small fee for the copy.
For assistance using your police report as part of a car accident lawsuit in Texas, contact a car accident attorney in Texas
. A lawyer can help you get a copy of your report and collect other evidence to support a car accident claim. Then, your lawyer can protect your rights and take steps to collect maximum financial compensation on your behalf.