What Should You Do If You Didn’t Call the Police from the Scene of Your Car Accident?
You were involved in a car accident, and you went home without filing a police report. Maybe the accident seemed minor and you didn’t think the police needed to be involved, or maybe you called 911 and the dispatcher simply told you to exchange insurance information with the other driver. Whatever the case may be, now that you are home and you have had time to process what happened, you are wondering: Do you need to make sure there is some sort of official record of the crash?
When Are You Required to Report a Car Accident in Nebraska?
In Nebraska, you are required to file a Vehicle Crash Report any time you are involved in a car accident that results in:
- Personal injury
- More than $1,000 in property damage
All drivers who are involved in the accident are required to file a Vehicle Crash Report regardless of fault, and they must do so within 10 days of the crash. Failure to file a Vehicle Crash Report is a Class V misdemeanor under Nebraska law (which carries a $100) fine. And, if you do not file a report, the insurance companies may try to use this against you when you file a claim for coverage.
How Do You Report a Car Accident in Nebraska?
Your first option for filing a report after a car accident in Nebraska is to call 911 from the scene of the crash. If the police respond to the accident and it is evident that the accident resulted in personal injury, death, or more than $1,000 in property damage, then the responding officer should prepare a report.
If you did not call 911 from the scene, or if the dispatcher did not send an officer to the crash site, then you must submit a Vehicle Crash Report to the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT). The same is true if an officer responded to the scene but did not prepare a report because the accident appeared to be minor (i.e., not involving personal injury, death, or more than $1,000 in property damage) and you subsequently learned that the accident needs to be reported.
There are two ways that you can file a Vehicle Crash Report with NDOT. One option is to print out a copy of the form, complete and sign it, and mail it to NDOT at:
Highway Safety, Nebraska Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 94669
Lincoln, NE 68509-4669
The second option is to submit your Vehicle Crash Report online. NDOT’s Driver Crash Reporting system allows you to complete your report in increments, and the system will inform you if you fail to fully complete your report within 10 days (provided that you accurately input the date of your accident).
What If I Don’t Know If the Accident Has to Be Reported?
What if you feel fine and the damage to your car is minimal, but the other driver was injured or his or her vehicle sustained more than $1,000 in damage? Or, what if you cannot get an estimate for the repairs to your vehicle within 10 days?
This is a common issue that many Nebraska residents face after being involved in a car accident. While it will sometimes be obvious that an accident needs to be reported based on the thresholds listed above, this will not always be the case.
If you are unsure whether you need to file a Vehicle Crash Report with NDOT, your best option may be to file a report just in case. There is no penalty for filing a report unnecessarily; however, as we mentioned above, failing to file a report when one is required is a misdemeanor offense under Nebraska law. Additionally, drivers’ Vehicle Crash Reports are confidential by law in Nebraska, unlike responding and investigating officers’ reports. So, while you can request a copy of your own Vehicle Crash Report after you file it, the other driver (and his or her insurance company) cannot.
How Do I Complete the Vehicle Crash Report for NDOT?
Filing out the Vehicle Crash Report is not easy. It requires a lot of information, and you are required to draw a diagram of what happened during the accident. When you sign and submit your Vehicle Crash Report, you are certifying, “to the best of [your] knowledge, that this report is true and accurate.” So, it is extremely important that you complete the report to the best of your ability.
The information required in the Vehicle Crash Report can broadly be broken down into three categories: (i) information about the location of the accident, (ii) information about each vehicle involved in the accident, and (iii) information about the accident itself.
1. Information about the Location of the Accident
Some of the key pieces of information about the location of the accident that must be included on a Vehicle Crash Report include:
- The name of the road on which the accident occurred
- The speed limit on the road where the accident occurred
- The name of the intersection where the accident occurred (if applicable) or the name of the nearest cross street, bridge, or railroad crossing
- The distance of the accident site from the nearest city or town
2. Information about Each Vehicle Involved in the Accident
With regard to each of the vehicles involved in the accident, a Vehicle Crash Report must include:
- Driver name, address, phone number, sex, date of birth, and driver’s license number
- Owner name, address, and phone number
- License plate state, number, and expiration year
- Vehicle year, make, model, body style, color, and vehicle identification number (VIN)
- Direction of travel at the time of the accident
- Point of impact and most damaged area
- Whether each vehicle was at a stop light, stop sign, yield sign, or other traffic control device
- Whether each vehicle was towed, driven away, or left at the scene
Additionally, with regard to your own vehicle, you must state which airbags deployed and whether each occupant in your vehicle was wearing a seat belt or other restraint. Here, as with many (but not all) of the items listed above, you also have the option to select “unknown.”
3. Information about the Accident
In addition to drawing a diagram of the accident, when submitting a Vehicle Crash Report to NDOT you must also provide information regarding:
- The cause, location, and severity of all injuries sustained by occupants of your vehicle
- The name, address, and date of birth of all injured occupants
- The road conditions at the time of the accident
- The weather and lighting conditions at the time of the accident
- Whether you or another driver appeared to be speeding, distracted, fatigued, or otherwise negligent
- Whether the accident occurred in or near a construction zone
You have the option to select “unknown” for many (but not all) of the required pieces of information in this section.
Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident?
Our attorneys provide free initial consultations, and you pay nothing unless we recover just compensation for your accident-related losses. We are available to speak with accident victims 24/7, so call 402-241-5020 or tell us how to reach you online now.