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Should you call 911 after a car accident?

A misconception many people have is that it is illegal to not call the police if you are involved in an automobile accident. Federal law doesn't actually require you to call the police, though various other jurisdictions might have laws about reporting accidents. What is illegal is to hit someone with a car and then flee the scene of the accident.

Because it's not illegal for two people involved in a fender bender to discuss the situation, exchange information and move on, many people might consider this preferable to involving others. You might think that because no one was seriously injured, you shouldn't waste first responder or police resources. Here are a few reasons to call 911 after an accident.

First, always call if someone is injured or if there's the possibility that someone was injured. Remember, the shock and adrenaline of an accident can make you feel like you're fine even when you might be injured. If there is blood at the scene or someone had a very hard knock, they probably need to at least be immediately checked out by EMTs.

Second, a Los Angeles police officer can record the accident officially, which will help with any claims through various insurance companies. A police report is also often essential in a liability lawsuit, and without it, your personal injury lawyer might be missing important facts. If you want to have a police report filed but don't want to tie up 911 resources, consider calling the local police station.

Finally, having experienced, official staff on the site of an accident scene can actually reduce the chance of follow-up accidents. First responders are trained to help clear roadways and to properly direct traffic as they are dealing with the scene.

Source: U.S. News and World Report, "7 Steps to Take After a Fender Bender," Geoff Williams, accessed Sep. 30, 2016

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