(1) It’s the law. In most jurisdictions, you are legally required to report to the police when you’ve been in an accident. We are often asked whether that remains true even in the event of a minor accident, and the answer is “yes.” You should still call the police, and describe what has happened-being particularly careful to describe any injuries or significant car damage. The police may tell you that the accident is so minor that they will not be sending an officer to the scene. That’s fine. You’ve done your duty as a citizen by reporting the accident. In that event, you should still go the police station and file your own report of the accident (and take a copy for your records). This will prove very helpful should there be a dispute later on about what happened; your fresh recollection of the accident as documented in your report filed right after the accident will be strong proof of the truth.
(2) It’s the best way to get emergency help to the scene. Calling 911 will put you on the phone with a trained specialist who will not only get a police officer to the scene, but also will determine whether emergency medical care should be sent to the scene, as well.
(3) The police will prepare a report that locks in everyone’s story about what happened. Sometimes, at the scene of an accident, the two drivers appear to agree about what happened, who was at fault, etc., and then exchange insurance information and go on their way, without calling the police. The danger is that, later on, when everyone involved has had a chance to re-consider “what really happened” after they realize they have been injured more seriously than they thought, or how much their insurance premiums might go up because of the accident, their story about what really happened changes from what they seemed to admit to the other drive at the accident scene. The police report prepared that day, based on information taken from the two drivers at the accident scene, will prevent that from happening.
(4) The police report also will contain necessary information about the accident, road conditions, drivers, injuries, vehicles involved and any damage, who is at fault, etc., that is invaluable to the lawyers, insurance companies (and sometimes judges and juries) who are trying to determine who pays what to resolve your legal claim.