The law provides that North Carolina car accidents must be reported to local authorities if property damage is greater than $1,000, or if it results in injuries or death.
Since the extent of injuries or the amount of property damage isn’t always immediately obvious, in most cases it is a good idea to call the police. Once you talk to the police and receive medical attention, your next call may be to a North Carolina personal injury attorney for help with the claim process.
One of the most important things a person should do if involved in an accident is remain at the scene. Otherwise, you could be considered a hit-and-run driver, which may result in serious penalties such as the suspension of your driver license or the revocation of driving privileges. At the same time, you don’t want to leave your vehicle in an area where it becomes a danger to others, such as stalled out in the road. Safely move your vehicle out of the way.
Once you have done this, assess the situation. This will help you determine if reporting a car accident is necessary.
Of course, the first call you will want to make is to 9-1-1 if you or someone else has been injured. In fact, North Carolina car accident laws require that you report it in this case. Ask other drivers or passengers involved in the accident if they need medical attention. If you need it, either make the call yourself or request somebody else call for you.
You’ll also need to report the accident if damage is over $1,000, but how do you know by simply observing the damage at the scene? You usually won’t unless it’s obvious. This is why it’s generally a good idea to report the car accident no matter what.
While waiting for authorities to arrive, if it’s possible, exchange contact information with others who were involved as well as with witnesses to the accident including:
- phone number
- auto insurance company
- driver license number
- license plate number
If you are not able to get this information, it may be available afterward through the police report. You will need to contact your insurance company, and they will ask for information regarding what happened and may require that you submit the police report as evidence.
One of the benefits of reporting a car accident is that a police report will be filed. You generally have to wait a couple of days before you can obtain a copy of it. It may provide valuable information that can help establish fault. For instance, if the other driver was issued a traffic citation, it will be noted on the report. Sometimes the responding officer will make notes as to what he or she believes caused the accident.
After reporting a car accident to the insurance company, you will need to get a copy of the police report. You can do this in person or online by locating the applicable police department in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred.
If you go online to get the police report, you’ll need to provide certain pieces of information including:
- the report number (which can sometimes be obtained at the time of the accident)
- date and location of the accident
- your name
If you are not able to access it online, then be sure to visit the proper police department to obtain your copy.
Although this report can be very helpful in a car accident case, you may also be required to submit other types of evidence to the insurance company, with which your North Carolina personal injury attorney can provide assistance. For instance, contact information of the parties involved, including any witnesses.
If you were able to take pictures of the damaged vehicles and accident scene, this can help establish fault. The more documentation you have, the stronger your case may be. Your personal injury lawyer can help you understand North Carolina injury laws, handle the necessary process for filing a claim to recover damages, help prove the other driver’s negligence, and collect evidence and expert witnesses. Take the first step, though, and be sure to report the car accident.