Should I Notify the Police After an Auto Accident in Washington State?

After an auto accident has occurred that involves injuries or extensive property damage, you should contact law enforcement to report the accident. Sometimes, you may need to file a report yourself. The specifics can be confusing, so contact an attorney as soon as possible to learn more.

There are many things to consider in the immediate aftermath of an auto accident. As you assess yourself and others at the scene for any injuries, you’ll probably wonder what steps you’ll need to take and which agencies or authorities to call. It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed at the scene of the accident, and many people are not certain whether to contact the police after an auto collision has occurred. Here is a brief overview of the role of law enforcement in car accidents throughout Washington state, and what steps you should take to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your future.

What the Law Says

In Washington state, you are obligated to report any auto accident that results in death, injury, or property damage exceeding $1,000. The responding officer will arrive at the scene and compile a report, which will typically include contact information for each driver involved in the accident, notes about the position of the vehicles, weather conditions, or other pertinent details, and statements from eyewitnesses. If the accident only causes minor injuries and minimal property damage, you are not required by law to contact the police to report the incident. 

Additional Steps for Each Driver Involved in the Accident

When an auto accident results in over $1,000 in property damage, serious injuries, or death, each driver, pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist who was involved in the incident should complete a Motor Vehicle Collision Report, according to the Washington State Patrol. You’re required to file this report within four days of the accident, including information such as your contact information, your vehicle registration number and auto insurance coverage, your description of the events that took place before, during, and after the accident, and other relevant details, such as weather or road conditions. If a law enforcement officer responding to the scene indicates that they will file a collision report, you are not required to complete a Motor Vehicle Collision Report. 

Working With a Trusted Legal Professional

The hours, days, and weeks following an auto accident can be difficult, especially if you’ve suffered an injury and require medical assistance or costly treatments. As you focus on your recovery, reach out to a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer who can guide you through each step of getting your life back on track. 


For more information about steps to take following an auto accident in Clark County, contact the experienced and empathetic attorneys at Henderson Taylor Law Firm by calling (360) 737-1478 today.