Should I talk to the police following my car accident?

Police Officer Talking to a Car Accident VictimYou should always call the police at the scene of your auto crash even if you believe that you suffered no injuries or “minor” injuries and there was little damage to your car. Why is this important? You may find that the cost to repair your vehicle is higher than you thought or that you suffered serious injuries requiring medical treatment. The symptoms of some injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, and internal bleeding, can take days or longer to emerge.

If you decide to file a claim with the negligent driver’s or your own insurance company, having a police report can be extremely useful. It can avoid disputes with the insurance company about whether your crash really happened and will have helpful information, such as the officer’s conclusions as to who was at fault and whether a traffic citation was issued.

When Are You Required to Report a Car Accident in Virginia?

Under Virginia law, you are required to report an auto accident in the following situations:

  • An individual suffered injuries or was killed.
  • A vehicle was damaged in the wreck.

It is best to call the police from the scene of your accident because the police report will be more detailed and help prove the other driver’s negligence. If you do not contact law enforcement, then you should do so within 24 hours of the collision or as soon as you can if your injuries prevent you from doing so right away.

Tips on What You Should Say to the Police

You will have a duty to provide the police officer with a copy of your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration. When talking to the police, you need to be careful what you say. Your statements will be included in the police report, and the other motorist’s insurance company may use them to try to deny your claim or pay you less than you are entitled to. Here are some tips on how to talk to the police:

  • Be polite when speaking to the officer or anyone else.
  • Do not interrupt the other driver or other witnesses when they are being interviewed by the officer.
  • When answering the officer’s questions, stick with the facts, and give a general accounting of how the collision occurred. Do not embellish what happened or give too many details that you may contradict later or can be misinterpreted by the insurance company when you file your claim.
  • Do not admit fault or make statements, such as “I’m sorry,” that can be interpreted as an admission of guilt. 

Do you have additional questions about your legal rights following a car accident? Do you need to file a claim for compensation? Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation with our experienced car accident attorneys today to get answers to your questions and learn how we can assist you with all the steps you will need to take to win your case.