When a car accident hits, it can be hard to know what to do. You'll probably have a lot of questions and little time to figure them out -- especially if you are injured or disoriented.
No matter the degree of the accident, calling an officer to come and assess the scene of the accident is essential. A police report will be filed, which is an important step in determining the cause of the accident and eventually filing an accident claim, if applicable.
In some situations, it's illegal not to call the authorities after a car accident. Here are a few reasons why calling the cops to the accident scene can be important:
- In New Mexico, if the accident caused injury, death, or more than $500 in property damage, you must report the incident to the police and file a written accident report with the state within five days of the accident, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. You can purchase an official police report for $7.50 a few days following the incident.
- One in four New Mexico drivers are completely uninsured motorists. The minimum insurance coverage a licensed driver must legally carry in New Mexico is:
- $25,000 for injury to or death of one person
- $50,000 for injury to or death of two or more persons
- $10,000 for property damage
- New Mexico law requires involved drivers to provide those with injuries "reasonable assistance," like calling 911.
- The time limit, or Statute of Limitations, to file a case in New Mexico is three years from the date of the accident for a personal injury claim and four years for a property damage claim. Having the police record details of the accident may help keep everyone accountable for an injury or property damage claim made in the future.
- Failing to stop at the scene or comply with other accident procedures could count as a misdemeanor or a felony. Contacting the police with the license plate numbers of all the involved parties could help catch a driver that flees the scene.
- Even if you were involved in a fender-bender accident with no injuries, law enforcement officials recommend calling 911 and letting an operator assess your need for emergency help.
If you are involved in an accident, remember to avoid incriminating yourself. You may not be fully aware of all of the details surrounding the accident and New Mexico does have a "fault" system in place to determine financial responsibility for car accidents.
Police officers are a resource for help in the aftermath of a car accident. They can help injured parties and provide a source of accountability if legal cases are filed following the accident. It is also important to contact a personal injury attorney with experience in the laws pertaining to automobile accidents. An attorney can give you legal advice to help you fight for the justice you deserve.