When Am I Required to Report a Car Accident in Utah?
Utah Code §41-6a-401 requires drivers to report a motor vehicle accident that results in property damage of $1,500 or more, an injury, or a death. The statute specifically states that a driver will “immediately and by the quickest means of communication available.” Leaving the scene of an accident is considered a hit-and-run. Depending on the circumstances, you can be charged with a misdemeanor that carries up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. If a death occurs, the charge is a felony with much more severe punishments.
In most cases, the quickest means is calling 911 from the accident scene. The 911 operator asks a series of questions to determine whether you need emergency medical services in addition to a police officer. The operator dispatches a police officer from the jurisdiction where the accident occurred. The officer investigates and files a crash report for you.
A crash report typically states whether one or both drivers contributed to the reason for the collision. This conclusion is based on the officer’s investigation, which is often based on what both drivers told him. Because a report can be incorrect, it is important to consult with a Utah car accident attorney as soon as possible following an accident. An incorrect crash report could jeopardize your ability to seek compensation for your injuries.
How Can a Collision Report Hurt My Injury Claim?
Utah operates under a no-fault insurance system. Your insurance provider pays the first $3,000 in medical bills. However, most car crashes result in more than $3,000 in medical bills. For those accidents, you will file a liability claim against the other driver’s insurance coverage, if the other driver caused the accident. To recover compensation, you must prove the other driver was negligent in causing the collision.
The first piece of “evidence” an insurance adjuster reviews is the crash report. If the officer failed to note who caused the crash or made a mistake in his determination of fault, your claim could be denied. On the other hand, the officer may have stated you and the other driver are both at fault. In that case, the insurance adjuster will reduce your claim by the percentage of fault assigned to you for the collision.
In any of these situations, a police officer’s mistake on a collision report can severely limit your ability to recover compensation for your losses, damages, and injuries.
What Should I Do?
You need to request a copy of your accident report as soon as it is available and review each item on the report carefully. If you see a mistake, notify the officer and request that the mistake is corrected. However, if the mistake is the fault for the collision, the officer is unlikely to change his mind. At this point, you need to contact our Utah car accident attorney immediately. Our lawyers can conduct an independent investigation to determine fault. If you were not at fault for the collision, we could help you build a convincing case proving the other driver is at fault. We have access to experts who can reconstruct the crash to prove you were not liable for the accident.
What Should I Do at The Accident Scene to Help My Case?
Never admit fault and never say you are sorry. Saying you are sorry can be interpreted as admitting fault. Give the officer as many details as you can remember but don’t try to “fudge” the truth to make yourself look better. It is always best, to be honest.
If there are any eyewitnesses, ask them for their names and contact information. Don’t rely on the officer to do this for you. Eyewitness testimony can be very convincing because an independent eyewitness doesn’t have a financial stake in the outcome of the case, so juries tend to believe independent eyewitnesses more than drivers when there is a dispute as to fault.
Otherwise, try to remain calm and seek immediately medical attention. After being treated for your injuries, call our office to speak with a Utah accident attorney.