Should you call the police after a car accident?

| 25/04/2019

If involved in a car accident, if there is damage to persons or vehicle, must the police be called to attend? Also, what if I witnessed an accident, must I stay till the police arrive or can I just leave contact details?

Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian status

Auntie’s answer: In light of the two recent tragic and disturbing cases of hit-and-run accidents (see here and here) in which both of the victims were killed, this is a particularly relevant question.

The requirements to remain at the scene of an accident and report the accident to the police are set out in the Traffic Law, 2011. The issue for witnesses is a separate matter which I will also address. Please bear with me as there is a lot to explain.

A spokesperson for the RCIPS Traffic and Roads Policing Unit (TRPU) pointed out the relevant section of the law when it comes to what drivers should do in the case of an accident. First of all, under Section 73(2) anyone involved in an accident must stop and, if asked by the other driver or even someone else “having reasonable grounds” to request the information, supply details such as name, address, name and address of the owner, and insurance details.

If no one was injured in the accident, the drivers can agree not to call the police at the time, but should exchange details and may leave the scene under Section 73(8). However, both parties are required to report the accident to the police within 24 hours. In addition, the TPRU explained, if a driver does not stop and provide the relevant details, he or she must inform a police officer or report the accident at a police station within 24 hours or that person could be prosecuted for leaving the scene of an accident.

If someone other than the driver is injured or the damage to a vehicle makes it unusable, the driver involved must wait for the police to arrive. And if a driver simply wants to have a police report filled out, they must remain at the scene under Section 73(5)(c)(ii). Once police have arrived, the drivers must stay until a constable says they can go, under Section 73(7), unless it is an emergency situation such as someone needing immediate medical attention or if the crash site is not safe.

Moving on to the question of witness responsibility, the TRPU said the law does not regulate what someone should do if they see an accident occur, but the police “strongly encourage” witnesses to take one of several actions. Before a witness leaves, he or she should give contact information to one or both of the drivers, letting them know they saw what happened and are willing to provide a statement.

A witness could also stay at the scene until police arrive, if they are called, and then can tell the officer what happened and give their name and contact details. If you are unable to stop after seeing the accident, you can call the police (949-4222), or if it was a serious crash call 911 to give the location and time of the accident along with your contact details. After that a police officer should reach out to you.

I feel compelled to add that while something may not be legally required, I believe everyone has a moral responsibility to do the right thing. I may be criticised for being naïve or way too optimistic, but consider the two recent hit and runs that occurred only a few weeks apart. If you were a family member or friend of either of the victims, would you not want a witness to come forward who could help bring the offender to justice? I understand that would not mitigate your grief or sense of loss, but at the very least, it could prevent the offending driver from committing that awful crime again.

Thank goodness most hit and runs here cause damage to vehicles but not fatalities, but the same principle should apply. If you see it, report it; you would want someone to do the same for you.

The law mentioned above can be found on the CNS Library

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Comments (19)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If it is not your fault, call the police, take pictures and don’t move until everything is documented. find witnesses, write down plates, phone numbers….
    Insurance companies try to avoid paying you. You need documentation. Police reports etc.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I hit parked cars all the time when out drinking. Never called the police yet.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I got in an accident a while back. No damage to my truck and big dent in his car. I thought it was his fault he thought it was my fault. I told him I would just call the police and let them decide and I would do whatever they said. He then said he was now late for work and could not wait and took off. What does that tell you?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Also, in the case of a minor accident, please GET THE FRICKING VEHICLES OFF THE ROAD IMMEDIATELY.
    Countless times a minor rear end shunt clogs traffic for miles because the idiot drivers insist on leaving the vehicles in the middle of the road while the police attend.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I would think it best to have the police attend the scene of an accident as there needs to be a properly documented account of the incident. This will help to mitigate any attempt by the responsible party to avoid liability at a later date.

    Don’t rely on the people that have been contracted by the insurance companies as must don’t properly understand the applicable laws and will incorrectly assign liability.

  6. Anonymous says:

    some years ago…a local lady damaged my rear of my car because she was on tele…we exchanged info and she ageed verbally to repair the damage……when i called her later that day…she replied…F you…you shoulda called the police…i was out if luck…??? now i call police no matter what! full stop!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Should 911 be dialled to get a police officer to come to the scene so an accident report can be filed for insurance purposes? I feel like there should be another number for this rather than call a number that should only be used for real emergencies.

    • Anonymous says:

      the other number is in the post by Auntie…

    • Anonymous says:

      There is, but the Traffic Unit isn’t always answered. If it is, they advise to call 9-1-1, state it’s NOT AN EMERGENCY, and then give the details.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Did we break the law the other day?

    Someone pulled out in front of me and their front bumper just barely scratched my car.

    We both just bounced and left the scene as it wasn’t worth the hassle to me.

    • Anonymous says:

      If it’s very minor and both parties agree it’s not worth the trouble to call police then yea. In your case, you should have pulled over and made sure the person was ok with you leaving. Possibly could be charged with hit and run even though the damage was very minor. Depends if the other guy called the cops or not.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I believe road users are also required to notify police in the instance of single-vehicle accidents where there is not necessarily an “other driver” or necessarily a collision fault claim to make. Any accident where damage exceeds $500 to their vehicle, and/or surrounding public infrastructure, including public light poles, curbs, and armco. Most seem to think they can cartwheel across medians and then legally limp away trailing sparking body work like nothing happened, leaving chaos in their wake. I don’t think that’s the case, yet that’s the prevailing standard.

  10. Tom says:

    The problem is people always call the police even there is no law unless very serious accident. Due people don’t trust each other! Take photo of the cars at accident scene then bloody move the cars away as they are being selfish blocking the road. Then take photos of driver license and all paperwork…it is simple and easy. Police have no say who fault or why it happen. It is only the court say that. Police ARE law enforcement to help the court ensure people are acting within the law.

    • Trafic Officer says:

      I agree. There are so many accidents at the Jacques Scott traffic lights and A L Thompson roundabout where the vehicles could easily be moved but the drivers insist on waiting for the police just to try and apportion blame. The police should refuse to attend RTAs unless there is actual injury or danger to others.

    • Anonymous says:

      Some of us still carry phones that are phones, not cameras and computers, bobo @9:44

      • Anonymous says:

        This is true but the odds that ONE of the 2 drivers has a smart phone is 99%!

      • Anonymous says:

        Phones? Luxury! I’m still using semaphore and a carrier pigeon. I tried to upgrade to to empty bean cans and a piece of string, but the string kept breaking between West Bay and East End.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Very useful information and good explanations, thanks to the person who asked the question and to Auntie for taking the time to get this information together and inform us.