Los Angeles citizens are now at a legal disadvantage if they are hurt in “minor” car accidents, Attorney Miguel Custodio, Jr. wrote in an editorial recently published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) made policy changes at the beginning of the year that eliminated the need for officers to respond to and/or write police reports for crashes where paramedics are not necessary. This “no ambulance, no officer” policy instead requires drivers involved in minor or hit-and-run accidents to use an online reporting system to provide their account of what happened.
There are numerous flaws to the new system, Custodio writes.
First, it places the burden on accident victims to provide an honest, clear version of the events leading up to the crash. People involved in accidents are often flustered and preoccupied with checking for injuries, exchanging insurance information, and assessing the vehicle damage. Even the most truthful person will not likely collect the detailed information needed if a legal dispute arises.
In addition, victim-provided information will likely not be as substantial as an officer’s assessment of the accident scene. The police know what to look for and what questions to ask for the complete story, Custodio adds.
The LAPD change could also potentially prevent the California Department of Transportation from identifying problem areas where accidents happen more frequently. Some collisions result from dangerous road conditions, and a history of crashes in a certain area can be compelling proof in an injury claim.
Finally, not having an officer at the scene means that the people involved are responsible for self-evaluating any injuries. But not all injuries, such as whiplash, traumatic brain injuries, and internal organ damage, manifest symptoms immediately. Without emergency treatment, such injuries can worsen or become fatal.
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