Do You Have to File a Police Report After a Car Accident in Missouri?Request Free Consultation
A serious accident is painful and traumatic, but even minor traffic accidents and parking lot fender-benders can be distressing when they cause damage to your vehicle. How do you know when to draw the line between a fender-bender and a car accident, and do you always have to report a car accident to the police in Missouri?
Missouri law compels car accident victims to report most accidents to the police. If you have any doubts or concerns about whether you should report a car accident, it’s always best to err on the side of caution by reporting the accident. There are several important reasons to make the call, even if the damage is minimal or unnoticeable.
When Do I Have to Report a Car Accident in Missouri?
Some car accidents must be reported under Missouri law within 30 days of the occurrence. This includes accidents with any of the following circumstances:
- If there is a fatality
- If there have been injuries in the accident
- When one driver damages a parked car and the owner of the other car isn’t present
- If the accident causes $500 or more in property damage
- If the other driver is uninsured
The police come to an accident scene whenever there are injuries, fatalities, or when an accident impedes traffic flow. In cases of minor accidents with no injuries and minimal property damage, the police may not come to the scene if they cannot spare the officers from other duties. In this case, drivers should exchange contact information and insurance information. It’s always best to take photos of the damaged vehicles and the accident scene and take down the contact information of any eyewitnesses. If the police cannot come to the scene of a minor accident, you can drive to a police station in the vicinity and report the accident with the information you’ve documented.
Although the law allows up to 30 days to report an accident, it’s always best to report it right away.
What Are the Advantages of Reporting a Minor Accident?
There are many reasons to file a police report after an accident, even if the damage is minimal and there are no injuries. However, it’s not uncommon for damages to appear later. For example, a car that appears to have little more than a scratch may develop a leak in the cooling system due to the impact. If you didn’t file a police report, there is no evidence linking the damage to an accident so you’ll be unable to make a claim for compensation against the negligent driver’s insurance. Even worse, if you later discover an injury—such as a nagging backache that’s diagnosed as a broken or ruptured disc—you have no official record of an accident and no evidence to show that the injury occurred in the accident.
By reporting even minor traffic accidents the police gather important information, including contact and insurance information, as well as an officer’s assessment. This helps prove fault for the accident later when you make a claim for property damage and personal injury expenses.
Also Report Your Accident to Your Insurance Company, Regardless of Fault
Most insurance policies require accident victims to report the accident within several days of the occurrence. Failure to report an accident to your insurance company could result in a claim denial if you caused the accident and may impact your claim even if you were not at fault.
Insurance companies are far more likely to deny a claim if there is no police report of the accident, and/or if you failed to promptly report it to your insurance company. By following the protocol for reporting an accident to the police and your insurance company, and seeking treatment right away for any injuries, you’ll greatly increase the likelihood of a successful claim for compensation later.