What Happens If Police Stop Responding To Car Accidents Because Of Covid-19?
You are driving down the road. Maybe you’re heading down I-565 to work in Huntsville. You are thinking about work (or maybe thinking about the upcoming weekend). Bam! Suddenly, another car crashes into you. You’ve probably sat in rush hour traffic on I-565 many times for accidents involving other drivers. But, now it’s you.
What happens after a sudden car crash. Usually, people call 911. Sometimes, multiple people call 911. Police arrive and investigate. Paramedics may arrive and check for injuries. What if the police suddenly decide to stop investigating some car accidents?What if the police in Huntsville, Madison, or another northern Alabama city, suddenly decide to stop working car accident scenes? If I had asked the question a year ago, you would probably laugh. After all, we expect law enforcement to investigate and report car accidents. With current coronavirus risks, one huge police department is now making the decision not to investigate some crashes. That police department — Atlanta.
A few days ago, an Atlanta news channel reported the Atlanta police department would stop responding to some car crashes due to Covid-19 concerns. How will this law enforcement agency choose when to respond and when not to respond? According to the report, Atlanta police will stop responding to “non-injury” accidents during the coronavirus pandemic. When Atlanta area drivers call the police for a car accident, the dispatcher will ask if they are injured. The response to this question determines whether or not local police will respond.
I understand coronavirus concerns. However, this decision creates huge problems for Atlanta-area drivers. Huge problems! These are huge problems I hope my neighbors here in Alabama never face. They include:
Car Accident Victims May Not Realize The Extent Of Injury In The Moments After A Crash
Shock. Confusion. In the moments after a crash, you may be dazed or confused. Your adrenaline spikes. This is perfectly normal. You just suffered a sudden and traumatic event. But, that rush of adrenaline often masks pain and injury. That’s why so many people feel fine at the accident scene. Yet, the same people begin hurting badly in the hours and days following the accident.
It’s not just adrenaline masking an injury. Torn ligaments and muscles tighten and spasm over time. Ruptured spinal discs impinge on nerves which can cause worsening pain and problems over time. In the moments after a crash, many people believe they are fine. Hopefully, they are. But, it’s far too early to tell.
At our law firm, we hear the same story over and over. I thought I was fine. I thought I was just a little shaken-up. I did not want to go to the hospital. I did not want to get on an ambulance. I called a loved one to the scene and just went home to rest. But, during the night or into the next day, I started to hurt. Some people even describe how the hours after a collision become the hardest night of their life as the adrenaline wears-off and the pain sets-in.
Many people suffer tremendous injury but are unaware of the problem at the time of the crash. You may not be bleeding at the scene. But, you can still be hurt badly. Should the first few minutes after the wreck determine whether or not you can later seek compensation for your injuries? No, they should not.
Car Accident Victims May Face Problems With Insurance Adjusters Who Will Argue Fault Cannot Be Determined
We talk to insurance adjusters every day. In minor injury cases (if your adjuster is reasonable), you should be able to settle your car accident claim. In cases with more serious injuries, you often need a lawyer willing to file and prepare the case for your maximum compensation. That’s something TV and billboard lawyers are not willing to do. They talk a big game on TV but rarely put in the work or fight in court to help you.
Without an accident report, some adjusters will simply deny or refuse to negotiate smaller injury cases. Why not make that decision? These adjusters know TV and billboard lawyers will not go to court for you. These adjusters know that in smaller cases, many people will simply give-up rather than file their claims and fight for more.
In serious cases, the lack of police investigation will mean a lack of evidence to support your position. At scenes, police sometimes take pictures, talk to witnesses, and diagram the cars and damage. No police means none of the usual evidence. So, the at-fault driver (and his or her insurance company) can easily dispute the claim. That leads me to the third problem with car accident claims if the police do not investigate.
Car Accident Victims May Find It Difficult To Prove What Happened
Do you remember the name of that guy at the scene who asked if you were OK and said he saw the other driver run the red light? Probably not. At the scene, you might be a little dazed or shocked. Sometimes, a friend or family member at the scene gets contact information for the witness. But, it’s usually the police officer who gets the names of any witnesses.
What did the other driver say at the scene? You may not know. Many times, it’s the police officer who speaks with the other driver. Quite often, the other driver will admit to the police officer that he or she was distracted. Do you think the other driver will admit to distracted driving days later after talking with his or her insurance adjuster? Probably not. Information from the wreck scene can be crucial.
Can you prove the other driver caused the crash? If the police suddenly stop investigating car accidents they consider minor, you could have problems. I only handle Alabama car accident injury claims. But, the problem in Atlanta is important. One Atlanta-area personal injury attorney recently advised accident victims (1) to tell the police they cannot tell if they are injured and (2) to tell the police they need them to come to the scene. Where Covid-19 risks create police accident scene issues, that’s good advice.
From its office in Huntsville, the Blackwell Law Firm represents people across Alabama in serious personal injury cases. Many of our cases involve serious car and commercial truck crashes. If you have questions about a car accident or other personal injury matter, let us know. Consultations are always free and confidential.