Every state has different rules for when the police must be called after a motor vehicle accident. Both Massachusetts and New Hampshire are fairly liberal in their reporting requirements. While some states require certain types of accidents to be reported to the police immediately, both Massachusetts and New Hampshire allow for reporting in writing.
Submission of the report is required only if the motor vehicle accident killed or injured someone, or there was at least $1,000 in damage to a single-vehicle or other property. In Massachusetts, the report must be filed within 5 days. In New Hampshire, you have 15 days to make the report.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that waiting to file a report is the right answer.
Reasons to Call the Police After a Motor Vehicle Accident
Although it isn’t strictly required that you call the police from the scene of the accident in either Massachusetts or New Hampshire, it is generally best to make the call. Police will not always respond to the scene of a minor car accident. However, even in the case of a fender bender, there is no harm in making the call and letting police decide whether it warrants a trip to the scene.
Some reasons that it is to your advantage to report a more serious car accident immediately include:
- It’s important to call 911 immediately if it appears that anybody might be injured, or if there is any doubt about whether there may be injuries. The 911 dispatcher will likely also dispatch police to the scene.
- Police at the scene will be able to gather more accurate information than will be available at the time you submit a written report days after the fact. If you later want to pursue damages for injuries or property damage sustained in the accident, the observations of the officers at the scene, and any statements they may take from those involved in the accident and witnesses may support your claim.
- Depending on the nature of the accident, public safety may be at risk. Some examples would include damaged vehicles in the roadway, pieces of vehicles that broke loose during the collision, spillage of gasoline, or damage to traffic signs or other objects that could impact the safe flow of traffic. Police at the scene will direct traffic or make other arrangements as necessary to keep the roadway safe.
- Aggression on the road is a growing problem around the country. Police present at the scene can keep things calm as the drivers involved exchange required information and make arrangements for their vehicles.
There are also some limited situations in which a call to the police is required. For example, you must call the police if you damage someone else’s property and are unable to locate the owner. The same is true if you injure an animal.
What if You Don’t Call the Police?
If you and the other driver at the scene decide not to call the police, you are required by law to exchange certain information. This includes contact information and your automobile insurance information. If you leave the scene of an accident without exchanging appropriate information, you may be charged with a crime.
Err on the Side of Calling the Police After a Car Accident
In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, you are not legally required to call the police from the scene of a motor vehicle accident in most situations. However, you will obviously want to call 911 if someone has been injured or killed. The police may also provide support and assistance in a variety of ways. If you are uncertain as to whether or not you should call the police, it is generally best to make the call.
In Massachusetts, you are responsible for filing the operator’s report even if you called the police. However, in New Hampshire, police will file the report if they respond to the scene.
In Massachusetts, you can obtain the report form at: https://www.mass.gov/doc/motor-vehicle-crash-operator-report/download
The New Hampshire form can be found at: https://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/dmv/forms/documents/dsmv400.pdf
Depending on how serious the accident is, reporting may be just the first step. If you have been seriously injured in an automobile accident in either Massachusetts or New Hampshire, attorney Kevin P. Broderick can help you understand your options and plan your next steps. The Broderick Law Firm offers free consultations to ensure that you have the information you need to make the best decisions for you and your family. You can schedule yours right now by calling 978-459-1792 or filling out the contact form on this site.
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