I’ve been practicing personal injury law for three decades in the greater Houston area. Undoubtedly one of the greatest areas of frustration for people who have been injured in a car accident is when they have tried to be a nice guy and simply exchange insurance information at the scene and did not wait for the police.
Well it certainly isn’t every occasion, but in a large percentage of situations like this the person who caused the accident ends up changing their story and it is the beginning of a nightmare for the victim.
The insurance company for the negligent person will always take that person side when it gives them an option of not paying the claim. This is true for many reasons but the main one being that the insurance company takes the side of their insured.
I’ve seen this fact situation play out literally hundreds of times over the years and it leaves the accident victim in a difficult spot. While the negligent party may have admitted fall at the scene and liability was clear, it almost never is once the tune has been changed.
By waiting for the police to arrive at the scene, the person who is not at fault has numerous advantages. The first advantage is the officer will talk to the other party and his responses to the officer can be admissible in court. Additionally, the officer will usually document the vehicles and his factual observations are usually likewise admissible in court.
Once the officer is talk to everyone a diagram the vehicles it is much more difficult for the person who caused the wreck to change their story. It is hard to say why a person would do that but there are many possible reasons including, afraid of rising insurance due to an at fault accident.
In short, if the accident was significant and there may be injuries, you should always request an accident report from officer at the scene. Sometimes the officer will seek to avoid responsibility for creation of a crash report by asking for your okay. Do not do it.
Police officers are charged with responsibility for creating a crash report when the property damage reaches a certain limit.
If for whatever reason, you choose not to wait for the police to arrive you should document the scene by taking cell phone pictures of the vehicles, the resting positions, the license plates of the other vehicles and the damage to all vehicles. Additionally, consider videotaping the statement of the person who caused the crash as consideration for not contacting the police.
Sorry as it may sound, you do not want to be one of the persons who ends up holding the bag because you’re a nice guy at the scene.
Visit our Car Wreck Information Center for more information: