The police may stop by an accident scene entirely on their own. They may see it happen, drive by shortly after it happens, or get a call from a third party. If they don't, though, what are you obligated to do? Do you have to call them?

Damages

This is governed by state laws, so be 100 percent sure that you know the law where you live. In most areas, though, you can only avoid calling the police for very, very minor accidents, such as scratching someone's car while pulling into a parking spot. For instance, in Texas, you have to call if you think the damages are going to be over $1,000. If you have newer cars, it's very easy for the cost to be that high. The same $1,000 limit applies in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Other Reasons

If anyone has been hurt in the crash, you also need to call the police. Remember that all injuries don't look that bad at first. This is especially true for internal injuries and brain injuries.

You also generally need to call the police if you think that one of the drivers has been drinking, if one driver tries to run from the crash scene, or if the driver does not carry the proper insurance.

In many places, even with a minor accident, the law states that the two drivers have to exchange insurance information, contact information, driver's license numbers, and the like. Even in a minor accident where no one is injured and the damages aren't over $1,000, one driver cannot flee to avoid exchanging this information. Doing so can lead to charges for leaving the scene of an accident. Charges can also be leveled when leaving an accident with injuries or in which someone was killed.

Calling the Police

If you're unsure of what to do, you always have the option to call the police, explain the situation, and ask them how you should proceed. Generally speaking, though, for anything but a very minor crash, you're going to need to contact them and make a report. As noted above, laws differ from one state to the next, so be very sure that you understand all of the state laws in your area.