Though a “fender bender” can be a complete day-ruiner, you'll likely walk away with zero to few injuries and a dented car. While you may not have a serious injury, you can still file an insurance claim to request compensation for vehicle damage and other losses (an ER bill, stitches, etc). Many people question "should you go to the doctor after a minor car accident?" We always recommend erring on the safe side when it comes to the decision to seek medical attention. Even minor accidents can cause internal injuries that are difficult to detect in the moments following a collision. If you do decide to see a doctor, the at-fault party is responsible for those medical bills, too. Many people also wonder if they should call the police after a minor car accident. The answer depends on a few things – one being your state's laws. In this article, we'll discuss when you should call the authorities after an accident.
If you've been in an accident, even a minor one, getting a legal opinion will help you understand what the best next steps are. At Impact Legal, our auto accident lawyers in Arizona and New Mexico offer free initial consultations. You can schedule your consultation and case review by calling or texting 602-345-1818 if you're in Arizona and 505-386-2807 if you're in New Mexico.
What Am I Required to Do By Law After an Accident?
Depending on your state, legal requirements will be different based on the degree of your accident. The degree of your accident, according to state law, is measured by a few elements, which we will discuss below. In this section, we've outlined what Arizona law and New Mexico law requires of its residents when it comes to reporting fender benders and other minor accidents to the police.
Should You Call the Cops After an Accident in Arizona?
Arizona law does not mandate that an individual report an accident, personally. However, the authorities are required to file a written report if an accident involves an injury, death, property damage greater than $1,000, or if a citation was given to any of the drivers involved in the incident.
While individuals are not required to report the accident to the cops themselves, failing to do so could result in the driver being charged with a hit and run, depending on the facts of the case. Our auto accident lawyers in Arizona recommend that after an accident you call the cops immediately. The responding officer will decide if an accident report should be written. Insurance companies have different rules when it comes to reporting an accident. If you plan to seek compensation from the insurance company, sometimes the deadline to report is in as little as 24 hours following the accident.
Should You Call the Cops After an Accident in New Mexico?
Just like in Arizona, whether or not you are required to report an accident to the police in New Mexico also depends on the circumstances involved. Depending on the extent of property damage or injury, you may be mandated to report the incident to the local authorities or submit a written report to the New Mexico Department of Transportation. If the accident involves bodily injury, death, or property damage greater than $500, you are required to report it to the local authorities by the “quickest means of communication,” according to NM Stat § 66-7-206. If the property damage is more than $1,000, a uniform crash report is required.
If you fail to report an accident, criminal charges for a hit and run may be the result. It's a good idea to call the authorities to the scene to avoid this potential repercussion.
Other Considerations When It Comes to Deciding to Report the Accident
Other than the legal requirements of your state, when it comes to deciding whether you will call the cops, you should consider a few things that could impact you in the future. Sometimes you can't see injuries after a car accident, which is why it's recommended that you see a doctor regardless of the crash severity. Adrenaline is notorious for masking symptoms directly after an accident. Even a fender bender can cause you to hit your head on the steering wheel, which has the potential to result in serious head injuries, like internal bleeding. Similarly, whiplash isn't visible after an accident. Sometimes, whiplash and other serious injuries can show up hours or days after an accident. Calling the cops, even for minor accidents, can help you have the documentation and evidence you need to recover in the case that you have any injuries that will require long-term medical care.
Along the same vein, internal vehicle damage may not be immediately apparent after a minor fender bender, but a hit to your car could result in serious damage on the inside. Calling the police to the scene helps to cover your bases should your vehicle require extensive repair.
Lastly, imagine you've gotten home after a car accident. There's a knock on your door, and you find out that after you left the scene, the other party called the cops and stated that you hit them and just left the scene. Even if that's not true, it could easily become a "he-said-she-said" situation. Reporting the incident saves you from this type of situation.
Get Legal Help with a Free Consultation
If you've been in a minor accident, and you're unsure about what to do next, give our auto accident lawyers in Arizona a call or text at 602-345-1818. If you're in New Mexico, call or text 505-386-2807. You can also schedule a free initial consultation by filling out our online form here. Even minor car accidents can be confusing and scary. We'll guide you on the best steps to take after an incident, depending on the facts of your case. You're not in this alone – we've got your back.
Need help deciding whether to contact a car accident lawyer? Check out our recent blog on the topic.