You got in a car accident. You called 911 to have the police come to the crash scene to create a report. Now, you’re wondering if the police automatically send your collision investigation report to insurers or if you need to secure a copy of it and get it to them yourself. Our Jackson car crash attorneys will address that question below and also other steps you should take following an accident.
Accident Reporting Requirements and Mississippi Law
According to the Mississippi Bar Association, our state’s laws don’t require motorists involved in minor accidents to request that the police come to the crash scene. However, state statutes do outline how if motorists do not summon law enforcement to the scene of an accident, they must still file a police report whenever there is property damage exceeding $250 or physical injuries.
Not filing this report with law enforcement within ten days of the crash under the aforementioned circumstances is a prosecutable offense. In addition to it being a misdemeanor to not notify the police of the accident, it is also a crime to provide false information when reporting the wreck to the police.
How Insurance Companies Get Accident Reports
Police departments do not automatically send any documentation to insurers following wrecks, crash reports included. In fact, yours or the other motorist’s insurer wouldn’t even know about it unless:
- You or the other driver involved call the insurance company to report the incident
- The other motorist or you file a car accident lawsuit
- The insurance company randomly researched the Mississippi Department of Public Safety database for crashes involving their insureds
So, as you can see, while law enforcement agencies don’t automatically send insurance companies Mississippi crash reports, there are certainly ways insurers may get them without you notifying them of your crash and providing that information yourself.
And, if you do ultimately report the wreck yourself to your insurer, there is a 50/50 chance that they will ask you to get a copy of the collision investigation report to them, perhaps to save them the time and energy of having to track it down themselves. We previously published a blog about how to secure Mississippi accident reports that can be helpful to you if an insurer makes such a request.
The Connection Between Crash Reporting and Car Accident Claim Filing
Mississippi is an at-fault state, which means that an injured motorist would typically file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance after a crash. Filing a claim or lawsuit is necessary if a collision left you hurt and you want to recover compensation to pay your medical bills, recoup lost wages, and secure reimbursement for other losses.
Our state is also a pure comparative negligence state, which means accident victims can hold liable the party who they allege struck them, causing their injuries, even if the driver filing the claim or lawsuit is as much as 99% liable for the crash.
Mississippi Code § 15-1-49(1) outlines the statute of limitations, or deadline, by which you must notify your another motorist’s insurer of your intention to file a claim or sue. It’s three years from the date of the crash.
So, let’s say, for example, that you or the other motorists you were in the wreck with never got around to calling in the crash to your respective insurers, and the insurance company made no attempts to otherwise secure the report. The initial time an insurance company could actually know about the accident and see the report could plausibly be three years out.
All the above being said, different insurers may have their own internal policies they require their customers to abide by as far as accident reporting is concerned. We recommend you do your own due diligence to confirm whether that’s the case with your insurer to avoid the potential cancelation of your policy for non-compliance with its terms.
Steps To Take Following a Car Crash in Mississippi
The Mississippi Insurance Department has an Auto Accident Checklist, which outlines the steps you should take to prepare for a potential wreck and the steps you should take after one.
As for before your crash, the state agency recommends keeping your auto insurance information together with your car’s registration.
The list is far lengthier in terms of recommended steps you should follow after your accident. You should:
- Assess the crash scene, including checking for potential injuries (without getting out of your vehicle unless it looks safe to do so)
- Call 911 to summon a law enforcement officer (and paramedics, if necessary) to the crash site, and before their departure, inquire where you can get a copy of your accident report
- Take down names as well as contact and insurance information for all involved drivers
- Take photographs or video footage of the crash scene and any other relevant details that may potentially support your claim
- Secure names and contact information for any potential witnesses to the crash
- Do not admit fault for the crash to anyone
That same resource also outlines steps to take when filing a claim, which it points out are different depending on whether motorists live in at-fault states like here in Mississippi or others.
Contacting a car accident attorney after securing your accident report but before moving forward with the filing of a claim may be in your best interest, especially if you suffered injuries in an auto accident. It may limit pushback from insurers as far as liability is concerned down the line if you do this early on in your case instead of having to do “damage control” later on, which can result in far more uncertain results.
Our attorneys at Pittman, Roberts & Welsh, PLLC offer free consultations to individuals who suffer serious injuries or unexpectedly lose loved ones in preventable crashes in Jackson and elsewhere in Mississippi. Please contact our law firm if you’re in need of sound advice about your rights to file a claim per our state’s laws.