Metro Police says officers are being stretched too thin, trying to get to these types of crashes. According to Metro Police, an average of 250 man-hours per week is dedicated to these types of wrecks.
Officers will continue to respond to injury accidents and hit-and-run incidents. They will also respond when a driver in a wreck refuses to exchange insurance information.
Almost everyone knows that fender bender accidents do produce injuries. The problem with this new policy is that many spinal musculoskeletal injuries do not manifest their symptoms until 24 to 48 hours after involvement in a traumatic event. Often these musculoskeletal spinal injuries involve nerve root irritation or spinal disc involvement as a pain generator and lead to expensive treatment and diagnostics. Some people become chronic from these injuries. This new Metro policy degrades the injury producing potential of fender bender accidents. Although the police reports and accompanying citations issued by Metro is not 100% conclusive to insurance companies in confirming liability for an accident, they go a long way in resolving an insurance company’s determination of the liability aspect of a claim, so that property damage claims can be resolved in a expeditious manner. The new Metro policy will mean that accidents investigated by insurance adjusters will take longer. Accident victims whose vehicles are dangerous to drive, are illegal to drive, or are non-driveable will be either forced to drive their unsafe, illegal and/or damaged vehicles or be without transportation in cases where victims do not carry their own rental coverage or cannot afford to pay their deductible to have their care repaired through their own insurance.
So who makes the decision that the accident is a “non-injury fender bender?” How will Metro decide if an accident is an injury producing accident? For Metro to respond to an accident, does a victim need to be transported from the accident scene to the hospital, thus incurring medical bills for the transport, hospital, ER doctor and radiologist? The bills for emergent care can average at least $3,000 to $5,000.
The number one reason that most residents of Las Vegas get involved with Metro is their involvement in a motor vehicle accident. So, if it now takes 250 hours a week to investigate all minor traffic accidents, that doesn’t seem like a lot of time and manpower to devote to traffic accident investigation.
If you have one of these non-investigated fender bender accidents, the adverse insurance company will most likely deny the accident injury claim because there is no traffic accident report.
If injuries arise from these accidents and these cases go to trial, a jury will probably be influenced by the fact that the accident wasn’t investigated by the police and impliedly reduce the significance of the accident.
Accident victims will need to hire attorneys to initiate more litigation to resolve these claims. Under this new policy, Metro will lose revenue because traffic citations will not be issued to the at-fault drivers. Even minor traffic violations now have fines in the $200 to $500 range. If it takes an officer two (2) hours to investigate an accident, the citations issued are compensation back to the City for the use of the officer’s time.
Because of the current economy, a great percentage of drivers on our roads have no insurance or they have expired or lapsed insurance. The fines on these “no insurance” tickets are high. In order to reduce the ticket from a fine above $1,000.00, the uninsured driver must obtain insurance after the fact. This makes uninsured drivers obtain insurance which is a benefit to everyone.
Metro charges $10.00 for a copy of a traffic accident report. The two insurance companies will order one and the drivers and injured passengers usually pick one up. Certainly, the attorney representing the injured party has to order one. This is additional revenue to the City.
If other cities are not investigating minor accidents, this should not be the standard in Las Vegas. The general rule is that if the accident is not your fault then you want the police to investigate. If the accident is your fault, don’t involve the police, if that is possible.
I know that there are a certain percentage of motor vehicle accidents where the parties decide to exchange information and don’t call Metro. In these cases there is no ability to take written statements and document the facts of how each party describes the accident at the scene, when their memory of the events is at it’s freshest.
Let’s talk about safety. When there is a car accident out on the street traffic will still be flowing. Of course, you don’t want to move the vehicles until information is gathered and photographs are taken. This creates a dangerous situation because law enforcement is not there at the scene to direct traffic.
Let’s talk about time. Now, on most uninvestigated accidents, the parties are required by state law to file a station report of accident at a Metro substation or a SR1 form with the Department of Motor Vehicles. This takes time. Your time should be as valuable as traffic officer’s time.
It is likely that on uninvestigated accidents that there will be two (2) divergent reports of the accident after a time lapse which occurs when the drivers involved file their own reports. It is a crime to give a false statement to a police officer, so having an officer at the scene promotes truthful reporting by the involved parties. These accidents aren’t going to be reported accurately, and there is no way to reduce bias in self-reporting an accident unless an officer is present.
How will the new policy reduce fatal accidents? All of this according to Metro is supposed to allow police to proactively enforce traffic laws in hopes of bringing down the number of fatal crashes. However, if you are ticketed for an accident, this should cause the sensible person to reevaluate their driving habits so that the distraction (accidents are always caused by some type of distraction) that cased the instant accident does not cause another more serious accident.
How will the new policy reduce fatal accidents? This new policy by Metro is bad for everyone. Previously, Metro adopted the policy that it does not respond to motor vehicle accidents that occur on private property. That policy makes those property damage claims and/or injury claims much more difficult. I know that Metro’s budget has experienced cuts because of current economic conditions. However, the investigation of minor property damage traffic accidents should not be eliminated. Many criminals are taken off the streets because of minor accidents. They may have bench warrants for serious crimes, suspended or revoked driver’s licenses, or they may be fugitives from justice skipping bail. There may be illegal contraband in vehicles that can be seized. If one party to an accident was drinking before an accident, then the investigation will take that driver off the street so that he can’t cause another accident.
Obviously, Metro has brought attention to their budget cuts by adopting this new policy. I don’t see how this new policy promotes safety and prevents additional accidents, because when people causing accidents know the police won’t be involved, they are most likely to leave the scene or be inclined to give incomplete or false information to the victim.
Did you know Metro no longer investigates house burglaries? The victim must fill out his own report. What service will be cut next?