To protect your rights if you file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, you should call the police and report the car wreck. As you can imagine, the moments immediately after a car wreck can be scary and confusing. Your adrenaline is pumping and you may not even realize that you are injured. The at-fault driver may try to talk you out of calling the police.
Failing to report the accident is not in your best interests if you later try to file a claim with your insurance company or pursue a personal injury claim. You may have an issue proving your case for many reasons. That is why it is always best practice to have the official report to confirm you were involved in a car accident.
Does South Carolina law require you to report every car accident?
If the traffic accident was not investigated by law enforcement, then § 56-5-1270 of the South Carolina code of laws states that you, as the owner or operator of a motor vehicle, MUST report it within fifteen (15) days when: (a) an injury or death occurs; or (b) there is property damage to an apparent extent of one thousand ($1,000) dollars or more. If you fail to forward the accident report in the proper manner, then it can be used as prima facie evidence that the vehicle is uninsured. See § 56-5-1270. South Carolina law requires law enforcement, who either was present at the car accident scene or later conducted the investigation, to forward the report within 24 hours of finishing the investigation. See § 56-5-1270.
Why is it important to call the police after a car accident?
In addition to the situations in which you are required to report a car accident, it is always a good idea to report the car accident immediately for several reasons. The accident report will provide written documentation the wreck occurred, along with the driver’s name and insurance information. This information is going to be helpful if the at-fault driver is trying to avoid liability as well as when filing an insurance claim.
The police officer will note who is at fault and, hopefully, cite the at-fault party for any traffic violations that occurred. If substantial injuries have occurred, the police officer can document the injuries, take photographs of the scene and collect any other evidence. The law enforcement officer will often note the property damage to each vehicle, road and weather conditions at the time of the wreck. The officer will also provide any necessary witness information in the police report. If you are in a jurisdiction where police officers wear body cameras, then this evidence may be used as well.
Finally, police officers are trained to respond to emergency situations. You may not even realize that you have been injured because you are in a state of shock. Law enforcement can assess the situation and call an ambulance for you if necessary. Additionally, as trained professionals, police officers can gather evidence that you may have missed on your own. Having an official police report is going to be given more weight by insurance companies than you attempting to prove your claim without one.
Contact Young & Young Attorneys at Law if you were injured in a car accident in South Carolina.
If you were injured in a car accident in South Carolina, we are available 24/7 to schedule a free consultation.