Posted in News on April 20, 2020
Getting into a car accident can be a terrifying experience for anyone, and the aftermath can become complicated. However, there are often times when an accident is relatively minor or when nobody seems to be hurt. In these cases, those involved may consider not reporting the crash at all. However, it is important to know what Montana law says about reporting an accident. Failing to report a car accident can lead to serious consequences.
Do All Accidents Need to Be Reported?
Every state has laws in place that dictate when a car accident must be reported. Montana law specifically discusses a person’s obligation between immediate reporting requirements to the police and the need to submit a written report to the Montana DMV. In many instances, drivers involved in an accident may be required to do both.
Under Montana Uniform Accident Reporting Act Sections 61-7-108, 61-7-109, and 61-7-110, drivers are required to report any accident that results in:
- Injury or death to any person
- A vehicle striking a deceased person
- Property damage that appears to reach $1,000 or more
If an accident was not investigated by law enforcement, the driver must also file a written report to the Montana DMV within 10 days of the accident occurring if the incident:
- Killed or injured a person
- Caused property damage exceeding $1,000
Additionally, drivers are required to report an accident to the local police department if the accident occurred within a municipality. If the accident did not occur in a municipality, it should be reported to the office of the county sheriff or the closest Montana Highway Patrol office.
What to Do If the Car Accident Is Minor?
If you have been involved in an accident, regardless of how minor, the best course of action will always be to report the incident to law enforcement. Let the police come to the scene and conduct their investigation.
Why report a minor accident?
The simple answer is that you really do not know how minor the accident is. Filing a report protects you. This will prevent any other drivers or passengers involved from making up facts of the crash that did not occur. Someone you are involved in an accident with could later claim there was more damage than really occurred. If the police come to the scene, even of a minor accident, they will make some kind of report.
It could also be the case that drivers or passengers involved have delayed personal injuries that are not immediately apparent. If any of these victims go home only to later realize they are injured, receiving compensation could be difficult if there has been no report made.
If you are involved in a minor accident, do not leave the scene. Move your vehicle to a safe place and alert the police. Do not wander in the road. Gather as much evidence as you can, including the name of the other driver(s) involved as well as their insurance information. Use your smartphone to take photos of the crash scene, including other vehicles involved and any causes of the crash. Get the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses to the crash.
Notify your insurer that an incident occurred, and give them the other driver’s insurance information. Most importantly, if the police do not complete an accident report, complete the report to the DMV within 10 days.
Contact a Billings Car Accident Attorney
If you are in need of a Billings car accident lawyer, the law firm of Heenan & Cook is here to help. Our personal injury attorneys have decades of combined experience fighting for individuals harmed in car accidents. Please fill out our free online contact form or call us at (406) 839-9091.