The aftermath of a car accident is often traumatic and confusing for survivors. You may not remember to get a police report right after a crash, or even realize that it is a requirement to do so according to state law in New Mexico. A police report can provide important evidence during a car accident claim. Even without a police report filed, however, there are other ways to protect your legal rights as a crash victim. Here’s what to expect from the claims process if you have a car accident case without a police report.
When Is Contacting the Police a Legal Requirement in New Mexico?
In the state of New Mexico, there are multiple instances when filing a police report after a motor vehicle accident is a legal requirement. A driver in one of these serious occurrences must file a report with the local authorities as soon as possible. A driver must call 911 immediately if the crash resulted in damage to property equaling $500 or more, if injuries were inflicted to either party, or in the event of a fatality. The failure to call the police when you are legally required to do so can result in penalties of a fine or even a hit-and-run charge.
Why Is it Important to Get a Police Report?
A police report is one of the most reliable and effective pieces of evidence to use in a car accident case. Filing a police report can help you prove the extent of the damage caused by the crash. It can also help you establish that the other driver is at fault for the accident. If the other driver broke a law that contributed to the crash, for instance, the police officer will give the driver a citation that you can use as evidence.
The police report provides multiple pieces of information about a car accident, including:
- The location, as well as the time and date of the accident
- The names of everyone involved in the crash
- All involved parties’ insurance information
- Details of all damage done to either vehicle
- Any information observed by eyewitnesses, as well as their contact information
Filing a police report in New Mexico by calling 911 is imperative for your car accident case. It will give you a record of exactly what happened during the accident, as well as help you prove that you were not at fault during insurance claim negotiations. If you are injured in an accident, having an officer there to take photographs and log information about the crash can support your claim. The officer will take the burden of obtaining the information and insurance documents of the other driver off of you.
What Happens if There Is No Police Report?
In the event that no police report is filed, an investigation by the insurance company will still take place. The representative assigned to your case, known as the insurance claims adjuster, will use what information is available without a police report. This may include eyewitness statements, photographs and videos, video surveillance footage, expert testimony, accident reconstruction, and medical records. The insurance company will contact you, the other driver and any passengers involved in the crash to ask questions and collect information.
Using the evidence available, the insurance company will determine who is at fault for the crash. You will receive a letter notifying you that the insurer has either rejected or accepted your claim. If you do not agree with the insurance company’s decision, you can request an internal review by the insurance company. Another representative will review your case and may come to a different decision. If this does not work, you can file a complaint with the New Mexico Department of Insurance for a third-party review.
The lack of a police report does not automatically bar you from making a financial recovery as a car accident survivor. However, it can make the recovery process more difficult. If you need assistance handling a car accident case that does not have a police report, contact a car accident attorney in Albuquerque. The Fine Law Firm offers free initial case reviews.