Motorcycle accidents, unfortunately, are not uncommon occurrences in the US. In fact, every year, close to 100,000 injuries are related to these incidents. Most states require motorists to contact the police no matter how minor the accident. But even if you find yourself in a state that doesn’t, it’s still a good idea. After all, the more information and witnesses you can get, the better, especially if you weren’t the one at fault. What happens, though, if you don’t file a police report? In many cases, not much at all will ever happen, but it’s important to be prepared.
What does the law say about police reports?
As mentioned earlier, each state has its own laws regarding what you’re required to do after an accident. States that require you to file a police report usually have minimum criteria for this law to be in effect. For example, California requires one if the accident results in an injury, fatality, or more than $1,000 worth of damage. Their law also states that you must report the accident to the DMV yourself in addition to the police report. Alabama law states that you must file a police report in the case of death, injury, or more than $250 in property damage. This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t call the police if your accident doesn’t meet this criteria. It just means that you’re legally required to do so if it does.
Why you should file a police report
Even if you’re not required by law to call the police after your accident, it’s usually a good idea. Filing a police report can help protect you against lawsuits, or they can be a source of valuable information if you need to file one yourself. Reports are not always considered the purest form of evidence because the officer probably was not there to witness the accident. But it is a valid form of documentation to back up your case.
Aside from legal matters, police reports can help with properly filing insurance claims. Often, by the time someone contacts their agent, the details of the event are somewhat fuzzy. Having a police report in place will help fill in the blanks and get your claim processed much faster.
When police will not file a report
Believe it or not, police won’t always file a report for you. In most states, this applies to accidents that happen on private property. Private property is not just a residence. It is also buildings, parking lots, or land owned by individuals. Many people are surprised to find out that the police can’t do much about their fender benders in grocery store parking lots. This doesn’t mean you can’t file a report yourself, though. In fact, in California, you’re legally required to file one with the state DMV, even if you weren’t at fault and even if it happened on private property.
When you do file your own report, whether with the DMV or with the police department, you are just giving your account of the events as you remember them. Filing it with the police department means that they will conduct their own investigation if necessary. But if not, it simply serves as a record for your insurance company.
What happens when there is no police report
If no report is filed for whatever reason, it just means you have less documentation of the accident. In some cases, you won’t be able to file a claim without one, but in others, the process could just take a little longer. As far as legal matters go, however, it’s important to realize that you can be sued whether a report was filed or not. And the same goes for you if you were the victim of an accident that needs further action. Either way, you’ll need to contact an Orange County motorcycle accident attorney right away.