Although getting into any kind of auto accident can be an overwhelming experience, many of the most common types of car accidents are considered minor. Most people have been in, or will be in, a small fender bender at least once in their life. Even if the damage is minor, there are many considerations you should be aware of if you ever find yourself in one of these situations.
It’s important to know what you should do, and more importantly who you need to notify if you are in a minor car accident. You may be wondering if you are required to report the accident to law enforcement and your insurance company. Here’s what you need to know about whether you should report a minor Las Vegas car accident.
Why Don’t Drivers Want to Report an Accident?
There may be many reasons not to report an accident. You might worry about your insurance rates going up. You might also wonder if you’re going to get a traffic ticket or even a criminal charge.
In Most Cases, You Must Report to Both the Police and Insurance
In most cases, you must contact law enforcement and tell your insurance company about the accident. There are a few exceptions. However, most of the time, you must make the appropriate reports to comply with Nevada law and the terms of your insurance policy.
What Is a Minor Car Accident?
A minor car accident usually doesn’t have physical injuries. Your car may have only a few small dents. You walk away from the scene rather than needing emergency medical care. It also may only involve one vehicle with damage to property.
How Do Minor Accidents Occur?
A minor accident might occur when a person backs out of a parking space without noticing a car behind them. It can happen when a person misjudges how much space they have and sideswipes the neighboring vehicle or nearby fixtures.
A minor accident can happen when a tired driver doesn’t entirely stop in time and taps the vehicle in front of them. Even when drivers follow all Nevada traffic laws, a minor accident can still occur because of an obstruction in the roadway or because of an animal or bicyclist turning into the lane of travel. These minor accidents happen each day throughout the State of Nevada.
Reporting to Law Enforcement Considerations
In the vast majority of cases, you need to report the accident to the police. Nevada has a series of laws that address when drivers must report accidents to law enforcement. This is the case any time that there’s a bodily injury or property damage. In addition to reporting to the police, you have a duty to stop and give medical aid to injured parties.
What Happens After You Tell the Police?
In most cases, the police will respond to the accident and conduct an investigation. When they do, they prepare a police report. They’ll check to see if anyone is intoxicated or over the legal limit for alcohol or drugs.
If they believe you or another driver violated a Nevada or Las Vegas traffic laws, you may receive a citation. You’ll be able to get a copy of the police report later on, and you’ll need to make contact with your insurance company.
What Happens If the Police Don’t Come?
The police choose whether or not to respond to a traffic crash. It used to be the policy of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to decline to answer to minor car accidents. After complaints that accident victims were having trouble getting fair insurance payments because of the policy, the Las Vegas police changed course, and they now respond to most accidents.
However, if you’re in the rare number of accidents where the police choose not to respond, Nevada law still requires you to report the crash in most cases. You must fill out a form and submit it within ten days of the accident. This applies any time there’s a bodily injury, death, or damage that looks like it’s worth $750 or more. Because damage adds up quickly in a car accident, you’re going to need to file the report in most cases.
Reporting to Insurance
Just like with the police, in the vast majority of cases, you’re going to want and need to make a report to your insurance. Most insurance companies require you to make a statement quickly after an accident. If you don’t, you’re breaking the terms of your insurance contract.
There are also practical reasons that you’ll want to report the accident to your insurance company. If you try to handle the matter directly with the other driver, you might agree to settle for a certain amount before realizing the true extent of your injuries. This can be problematic when you need to get fair compensation for your injuries later down the road.
Also, the insurance company can get a copy of your driving record and the accident report. In almost all cases, they’re going to find out that the accident occurred. It’s better if they find it out from you rather than have them accuse you of trying to keep them from finding out. Finally, your insurance might directly cover some of your losses even if the accident is your fault. Depending on your specific policy, your insurance might cover your property damage or even bodily injuries.
Is There Any Scenario Where You Wouldn’t Want to Report to Your Insurance Company?
There are only a few limited scenarios where you might have the option and a good reason not to notify your insurance company about a minor accident. You might choose not to report minor accident damage where it happens on your own property, and the only damage is to your own vehicle or other property that you own.
For example, if you’re backing up on your own property and you scrape the side of your gate causing a scratch on your car, you might be best off paying for the repairs out of pocket. However, making the report is your only option in the vast majority of cases.
Taking the Right Steps
If there’s any doubt, an experienced Las Vegas car accident attorney can help you decide what you need to do to comply with the law and make the right reports after a minor car accident. Even a slight car accident can have significant consequences.
It’s essential to handle the matter carefully to prevent a small inconvenience from becoming a more significant problem. An experienced lawyer can help you evaluate your case from all angles to protect your interests and advance your rights under Nevada law.