Should I Call the Police After a Car Accident in Texas?
Make sure you protect your safety, health, and legal rights
One of the most important things you should do after a car accident in Texas is to call 911 and wait for the police to arrive. The police will secure the scene, get medical attention for anyone who needs it, and fill out an official accident report.
Failing to call the police after an accident is a big mistake. So is going it alone instead of contacting a car accident lawyer. If you're involved in a car crash in Houston or anywhere in Texas, your first call should be 911, and your second call should be Smith & Hassler, Attorneys at Law. A car accident attorney at our firm can advocate for your rights every step of the way.
Do car accidents need to be reported to the police in Texas?
You’re not necessarily required to call the police, but it’s generally in your interest to do so. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), you should always call the police if:
- There is an injury or fatality.
- The vehicles cannot be moved.
- You suspect a driver is intoxicated.
- A driver involved in the accident has no insurance.
- A driver leaves the scene (hit and run).
One reason to call the police is to create an official accident report, which will play an important role in your claim. Under Texas law, police are required to file an official report for any accident that causes death, injury, or over $1,000 in damages.
If you’re asking “should I call the police after a minor car accident?” then the answer is generally still yes. The police don’t have to fill out a report for an accident that causes no injury and less than $1,000 in property damage – but you have no way of knowing for sure whether anyone was injured or how much property damage was caused. Cars can have hidden damage, and people can sustain injuries with delayed symptoms. So to be safe, you should report any accident, no matter how minor you think it is, to the police.
There are other legal reasons to call the police. For instance, you need to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver(s) involved, and while you certainly can do that without the police present, if another driver is belligerent or uncooperative, the police can help handle that situation. And beyond those legal reasons, the police can help protect your safety and health after the accident.
Do police take photos of car accidents?
The police may take pictures of the scene, but you shouldn’t depend on them to do so. Remember, their job is to secure the scene and determine whether a violation occurred, not to advocate for compensation for your injuries. Their investigation is focused on their goals, and your investigation should focus on yours.
So, even while you’re waiting for the police to arrive, start your own investigation. Take pictures of the scene, evidence such as skid marks, any property damage, and any visible injuries. Likewise, you should get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. That information should make it into the police report, but protect your rights and get that information for yourself just in case.
Can police search your car after an accident?
If you’re worried about calling the police after an accident because you don’t want them to search your car, remember that the accident doesn’t change your Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Police can only legally search your vehicle if they have your voluntary consent, a warrant, or probable cause to believe the car contains evidence of criminal activity. Being involved in an accident doesn’t give the police any special reason to search your car; they need to meet the same legal criteria as in any other situation.
What to say to the police after a car accident
Once the police arrive, be polite and cooperative toward the investigating officer. Again, their job is to secure the scene and investigate the accident. That said, as with any conversation at the scene of an accident, you need to stick to the facts of what happened. Don’t say anything about fault, one way or another. Remember that you’re allowed to politely decline to answer questions if you’re uncomfortable doing so without a lawyer, and you are also allowed to decline permission to search your vehicle.
What if the police report says I am at fault?
Just because the police report says you are at fault doesn’t make it so. The police report is the product of an initial investigation, not the final word on the accident. You can and should fight this determination of fault with an experienced attorney on your side.
That’s why you need to contact the experienced car accident lawyers at Smith & Hassler as soon as possible. If you haven’t gotten the police report yet, we can handle the request on your behalf. If you have it and disagree with what it says, we can set the record straight – and conduct our own investigation to get to the bottom of what happened and hold the at-fault driver accountable.
We offer a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis, so there is no cost to hire an attorney unless and until we win your case. Don’t go it alone after a car accident. Contact Smith & Hassler today.