What Happens if You Don’t Report a Car Accident to Your Auto Insurance Company?
No one likes dealing with their insurance company after getting into a car accident. The prospect of a premium increase can send your stress level soaring through the roof. If the accident was minor, you may feel tempted not to report it at all. It’s very important to avoid making this mistake. While it might seem simplest to work something out with the other driver privately, failure to report an accident can leave you exposed to serious financial and legal consequences. Don’t sweep your crash under the rug, because you’ll only do yourself a disservice in the end. If you need help handling an accident claim, call the experienced Salt Lake City car accident lawyers of Overson Law for around-the-clock legal assistance throughout Utah. You may be entitled to compensation.
Utah Reporting Duties After a Crash Resulting in Injury, Death, or Property Damage
If you are ever involved in a car accident, you must report it to two agencies:
- Your local police department.
- Your insurance company.
There are two excellent reasons to report an accident to law enforcement. First and foremost, it is required by state law. You must report to the police all accidents which cause death, injury, or property damage which appears to result in expenses of $1,500 or greater. Additionally, the resulting police accident report can be a very useful tool in settlement negotiations (though it typically cannot be used in court due to being “hearsay” evidence, or an out-of-court statement by a non-witness). The other driver might try to retract statements or alter details, but the police report will remain unchanged as a neutral record of the events that occurred.
While Utah’s accident reporting laws do not compel drivers to report crashes to their own insurance companies, you can be certain your insurance policy does. Whether you have the minimum required liability coverage or carry additional optional auto insurance coverage like UM/UIM coverage, mandatory accident disclosure is a standard feature of every auto insurance policy in the United States.
What Are the Consequences of Failing to Report a Car Accident to Your Insurer?
It’s understandable that you would hesitate to report an accident to your insurance company. No one likes the idea of potentially having to pay more for the same coverage, especially when the other driver seems receptive to making a deal. Do not fall into this trap. As far too many drivers have learned the hard way, failure to report a crash can result in tremendously costly consequences.
Consider this scenario. When you’re involved in an accident, your body releases a huge flood of adrenaline as part of the “fight or flight” response. The extra surge of adrenaline helps you respond to an emergency situation by increasing your oxygen intake, sharpening your reflexes, and temporarily numbing pain signals.
When the adrenaline inevitably wears off, previously masked pain starts to kick in. So what happens when the stranger you “made an arrangement with” realizes he or she is more seriously injured than was originally thought? Because Utah is a no-fault state, they will call their insurer first – but if their costs exceed $3,000, they can make a claim against your insurance company, at which point your insurer will be notified. And, because you did not report the accident in a timely manner like your policy requires, your insurer might decide to deny financial protection, leaving you on the hook for the other driver’s medical bills and other costs. By violating the terms of your policy, you are breaching your contract with your insurance company, which leaves you open to risks like refusal to renew your policy, denial of claims that arise in the future, or outright cancellation of your policy altogether.
Plus, remember those laws about reporting accidents to law enforcement? One of their requirements is that you remain at the accident scene long enough to exchange your insurance information with the other driver or vehicle occupants, including your insurance agent or provider’s phone number. If you drive away early in order to avoid this obligation, you are committing a crime called “leaving the scene of an accident,” widely know as hit and run. This can lead to considerable jail time, fines, and loss of your driver’s license – not to mention a permanent criminal record.
Disclosing a crash might seem like a hassle, but ultimately, it’s the safest route. Ironically, concealing an accident can cause problems greater than those you were trying to avoid in the first place.
Call A Utah Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you or one of your family members was injured in a car accident in Utah, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and other losses. Don’t worry about dealing with the other driver’s insurance company – personal injury attorney Darwin Overson will handle all of the paperwork and negotiation on your behalf. Darwin’s goal is to reduce your stress, protect your rights, and obtain the greatest compensation possible for your injuries.
Darwin has more than 33 years of experience handling car accident claims in Salt Lake City and other locations throughout Utah. If you cannot travel due to your injuries, Darwin Overson is happy to come to you. To set up a free legal consultation with a Utah County car crash attorney, call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 895-3143 today. Your information will be kept confidential.