What Happens After a Car Accident With No Police Report?
Motor Vehicles Accidents - March 17, 2021
Vehicle accidents can be terrifying experiences, particularly if there are any injuries or severe property damage. Some vehicle accidents, however, are relatively minor and leave those involved with no injuries at all and maybe only minor property damage. Regardless of the severity of a crash, it is important that an accident report be filed.
Sometimes, we field questions about what happens after a person gets into a crash and there is no police report. Here, we want to discuss the importance of a police report as well as what you can do if the police do not come to the scene of the crash.
The Importance of Reporting a Crash to the Police
The first thing we need to stress is that nearly every vehicle accident in the state of Illinois needs to be reported to the police. Even if you are unsure about whether or not to report a vehicle accident after the incident occurs, it is always best to err on the side of safety and call the police anyway. Let a law enforcement officer come to the scene of the crash and determine the best steps moving forward.
A police report is often the singular most important piece of evidence used by insurance carriers when determining how to dole out compensation for those involved.
What if the Other Driver Does not Want to Report the Crash?
There are various reasons why some drivers may not want to report a vehicle accident. Most often, this is because the parties involved decided amongst themselves that the incident was not that serious. Often, in the initial aftermath of the crash, it is difficult to determine whether or not there are any injuries or if there has been any property damage.
Some injuries are “hidden” and may not appear until the hours or days following a crash. Additionally, it is not uncommon for vehicle damage to occur and not be noticed until well after the incident. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to go back and claim injuries or property damage if there has been no police report or if the incident was never reported to the Illinois DOT.
Additionally, it is not uncommon for an uninsured driver to try to convince other parties at the scene that the police do not need to be called and a report does not need to be made. Driving without insurance in Illinois is illegal, and drivers in these situations are often seeking to avoid legal trouble at the expense of any other party at the scene that may have sustained an injury or property damage.
In Illinois, drivers must carry and maintain the following types of auto insurance:
- Bodily injury liability coverage: Minimum $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Property damage liability coverage: Minimum $20,000
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage: Minimum $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
Regardless of what other drivers tell you at the scene of a crash, you should pick up your phone and call the police so they can come to the location and conduct an investigation. If you have any trouble with other people at the scene of the crash, let the dispatcher know, get back in your vehicle, and lock the door. Wait for the police to arrive. If another driver tries to flee the scene, do not try to chase them. They will have committed a hit and run offense at that point, and this will become a police matter.
What does Illinois Law say About Reporting a Crash?
When we turn to Illinois Statute Chapter 625 Vehicles § 5/11-406, we can see that accidents must be reported to the Illinois Department of Transportation if the incident caused:
- Death or bodily injury, or
- Property damage more than $1,500
If you are reporting a crash on your own, you must do so within 10 days after the car accident occurred. The crash can be reported by you, your insurance carrier, the owner of the vehicle, or your legal representative. In order to properly report the incident, one of these parties must complete the Motorist Crash Report (this can be done online) and submit the report to the Illinois DOT.
In order to correctly fill out the Motorist Crash Report, you will typically need to gather and supply the following information:
- The time and place of the incident
- The name, address, and date of birth of all motorists involved
- The driver’s license information of all motorists involved
- The driver’s license plate numbers of all motorists involved
- The name and address of all insurance policyholders and the names of their insurance providers
- The name and address of all registered vehicle owners of the vehicles involved in the accident
- A brief explanation of what happened during the accident
Will You Need an Attorney?
To be clear, we understand that not all vehicle accidents require assistance from a car accident attorney. However, there are times when an attorney will most certainly be beneficial, even if the incident seems relatively minor. This is especially true if the vehicle accident was not reported to the police when it occurred or if the other driver(s) involved did not report the incident to their insurance carrier or the Illinois DOT. If you are the only one that has made a report, securing the compensation you may be entitled to can be challenging.
In these situations, an attorney can use their resources and legal expertise to fully investigate the claim to obtain all evidence needed to prove liability. This can include the following:
- Any photos were taken at the scene of the crash
- Any video surveillance from nearby cameras
- Statements from any eyewitnesses
- Mobile device data
- Vehicle “black box” data
- …and more
An attorney will be able to navigate the legal system to contact all other parties involved in an effort to gain their cooperation. If necessary, an attorney will work with law enforcement officials to compel cooperation from any other driver involved.