Should You Report a Car Accident to the Oklahoma City Police?
In this article, our Oklahoma car accident lawyers will explain when drivers are required to report accidents to law enforcement, and discuss how police reports are used in personal injury claims after a crash or collision occurs.
When Are You Required to Report a Car Crash in OK?
As we touched on in our earlier article about what to do after a car accident, there are certain situations where it is not only common sense, but actually mandatory to report accidents to law enforcement. One of Oklahoma’s motor vehicle laws, codified at O.S. § 47-10-107, requires drivers to “immediately” notify either their local police department, the county sheriff’s office, or the nearest State Highway Patrol office if an accident results in any deaths or injuries. (In this situation, the driver would also be responsible for calling 9-1-1 or otherwise getting medical aid for the victim, and would also be required to share their name, address, license and registration with parties from the other vehicle.)
Different rules apply to non-fatal, non-injury accidents resulting only in property damage, which are governed by O.S. § 47-10-103. Under this statute, drivers in property damage only (PDO) accidents are required to remain at the scene, disclose their information, and provide reasonable aid, but are not required to notify the police. You also don’t need to inform the police if you hit an unattended vehicle, such as a parked car (though you are required to leave your contact information “in a conspicuous place,” like stuck to the windshield, under O.S. § 47-10-105).
While Oklahoma’s laws don’t compel drivers to report accidents where no one gets hurt or killed, there are still some good reasons to consider reporting an accident to the police:
- Even if it’s not required by law, it may still be required by your insurance policy.
- The other driver might misremember details and give the police inaccurate information, which could lead to your claim being denied.
- The police report may include witness statements, photos of vehicle damage, and other vital information.
All of this brings up a very good question for car accident victims, which is…
How is the Police Accident Report Used in an Automotive Injury Claim?
Many people are surprised to learn that police reports are generally not admissible evidence in court. This is because police reports are regarded as “hearsay” evidence, a term used to describe unsworn statements which are made out of court by people who did not actually see the alleged action or event take place.
That being said, police reports can still hold tremendous value for an accident victim who wishes to file an injury claim, which is different from a lawsuit. (A claim describes an attempt to negotiate a mutually agreeable settlement with the insurance company, while a lawsuit is generally used as a last-resort remedy if negotiations with the at-fault driver’s insurance company prove unsuccessful.)
If the police report points to the other driver being at fault for the accident, you can use the report as a negotiating tool to get a better settlement offer. The report will also contain important details about the circumstances under which the accident occurred, such as the weather, road conditions, visibility, and names of any eyewitnesses who may have seen the crash take place. Without a police report, you might not be able to get in touch with valuable witnesses (or even know of their existence), which will undermine the strength of your claim.
To report a non-emergency to the Oklahoma City Police Department, call (405) 231-2121. If you ever get into an emergency situation, call 9-1-1 right away. To obtain a copy of an OKCPD report, call the Records Bureau at (405) 297-1000, or, if you live nearby, visit in person. You’ll find the Records Bureau on the second floor of the OKCPD headquarters building, which is located at:
701 Colcord Drive
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Be prepared to pay a small fee for your copy of the report.
Contact An Experienced Oklahoma City Car Accident Lawyer
If you or one of your loved ones was hurt in a car accident in Oklahoma City, Norman, Edmond, Moore, or the surrounding area, the Norman automotive accident attorneys of Hasbrook & Hasbrook may be able to help you and your family recover compensation, which can be used to take care of your medical bills, make up for losses in income, and cover other expenses related to the injury. Call our law offices today at (405) 698-3040 to set up a free and confidential legal consultation.