If you haven’t been there, you’re among the lucky few – standing on the side of the road, inspecting damage that’s going to cost you significantly (whether it’s time or money), and debating whether it’s worth the hassle of involving the police or insurance companies. Different circumstances have different requirements, and failure to follow the law can result in serious consequences. Regardless of the circumstances of a crash, it’s always a good idea to call the police after an accident.
Oklahoma has recorded over 70,000 crashes each year since 2015, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. With the state’s steady population growth, it’s likely that these numbers will only go up. It’s worth knowing what to do when you’ve been involved in a car crash in Tulsa. An official police report (among other things) helps document the facts surrounding an incident.
Why you should call the police after your accident
An official report, recorded by an authorized representative of the law, can serve as an excellent tool if your case goes to trial as well as during settlement negotiations. In fact, all parties should document their experiences when an accident occurs. Unfortunately, most people are too traumatized or injured in the immediate aftermath to even consider this. In these cases, a police report may be the only record of the incident.
When you are required to call the police after your accident
In certain cases, it’s mandatory to report an accident to the authorities in Oklahoma. State Accident Statutes, including § 47-10-102, § 47-10-104, § 47-10-107, and § 47-10-108, detail what you should do when you’re involved in a car crash, as well as penalties for noncompliance. The short answer is that you are required to inform authorities immediately if anyone is hurt or killed.
If the only damages from your accident are to property, you’re not required to notify local authorities at the scene, but you must file an accident report with the Department of Safety if your accident creates more than $300 worth of property damage. You must also file a report if a settlement has not been reached within six months of an accident.
You also have a duty to remain at the scene of the accident and ensure that anyone requiring medical care receives treatment at the scene or has a way to get to an emergency care center. After the fact, you are required to exchange accurate information with all involved parties. This exchange is also legally mandated, and should include other parties’ names, current addresses, and insurance details (if any).
Sound complicated? It absolutely is. It’s possible that some of the involved parties are in shock and don’t immediately recognize their injuries. Additionally, unless you’re an insurance adjuster or have up-to-date actuarial tables on your person, it’s unlikely that you’re able to accurately estimate the dollar amount of any damage caused. Finally, some involved parties may be unwilling to share details (especially when uninsured). That’s why we recommend that you involve the authorities immediately after any Tulsa motor vehicle accident.
What does a police report entail?
The document itself is a simple administrative form designed to provide as complete a description of a crash scene as possible. Here are some of the most common details included on motor vehicle accident police reports as described by Direct Auto:
- Date, time, and place where the incident happened
- Description of road conditions, lighting, and climate the day of the incident
- Description of the vehicles in the accident, including make, model, year, license plate numbers, and registration status
- Details of the incident, including the type of road or intersection where it happened, what kind of damage occurred, and if speeding, intoxication, or negligence are suspected
- A diagram of the incident highlighting road signage, stoplights, crosswalks, merge lanes and more
- Names and information of all injured parties, the extent of their injuries and whether or not they were taken to a local hospital
- Notes on property damage resulting from the incident
- Name, agency, and badge number of responding officers
It’s worth noting that certain details like the date, time, weather conditions and vehicle locations are considered facts. Unless the crash was recorded, other information like the circumstances leading to the accident are generally considered the opinion of the reporting authority.
What if my police report is wrong?
Police are human, and they do make mistakes. It’s not easy to get a report changed, but it can be done. You just need evidence to support it. For example, if the officer states an opinion about how injured you appeared to be, but you have medical records showing that you are still undergoing treatment, you can submit copies of those records to the officer. He or she may be more likely to amend the opinion portion based on updated information. You can also formally dispute any ideas about fault in the report.
The Tulsa car accident attorneys at Biby Law Firm understand how insurance companies work and have a strong record of successful settlements and verdicts. If you or a loved one has been involved in a car crash, our compassionate and thorough attorneys are ready to help you understand your position and secure you the compensation you deserve. You don’t have to go it alone. For help with your case, call us at 918-574-8458 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment today.
Jacob Biby has spent his legal career helping folks just like you get the resources they need after an injury. He completed his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State University and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 2008. Jacob is licensed to practice in all Oklahoma state and federal courts, and has limited his career to representing individuals and families who were injured by the negligence of other people or corporations. Learn more about Jacob Biby.