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Should I call the police after a Nashville car accident?

Before April of 2021, there was little question about whether the police would respond to a call regarding a traffic accident. However, between the overall increase in accidents, strained personnel, and a need to prioritize resources, the Metro Nashville Police Department announced earlier this year that they would no longer respond automatically to non-injury “fender-bender” accidents in the Nashville area. This news has sparked a bit of confusion in drivers. If you’re in an accident, when is it appropriate to call the police? When is it necessary? And will the police respond if you do call them? Let’s unravel these questions based on the recent changes in police policy.

When You Should Definitely Call the Police

The Metro Nashville Police Department has stated that they will continue to respond as quickly as possible to any accident where injuries are involved—so you should always call the police if anyone is injured. Additionally, you should call the police (and they will respond) under any of the following circumstances for non-injury accidents:

  • A vehicle is blocking traffic and cannot be moved on its own. This situation sets up the possibility for additional accidents and possible injuries, and police will respond to help move the vehicle and manage traffic.
  • The accident involves a hit-and-run driver. Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime, and police will respond to those calls even if there are no apparent injuries in the crash.
  • Things get heated between those involved in the crash. If tensions escalate between drivers, and there is violence or the fear of violence, you should definitely call the police, and they will respond as quickly as possible.

Will the Police No Longer Respond to Calls About Minor Crashes?

While their default position is no longer to respond to minor accidents, the NMPD has stated that they will still show up if at least one of the drivers insists on it. However, they say, be prepared to wait, especially during peak times. Non-injury crashes are no longer prioritized, and officers might not be available to respond for several hours.

Since minor crashes are non-emergencies and are not life-threatening situations, drivers are urged to call the non-emergency line, 615-862-8600, rather than tie up the 911 dispatch lines. In the meantime, drivers are urged to move the vehicles involved in the accident out of traffic to ensure there is no additional risk of injury. They are also encouraged to take photos of the damage and exchange information for their respective insurance companies.

Can I Still Call the Police If the Accident Is Minor?

Absolutely—and in some cases, it may still be in your best interests to do so. Even if there appear to be no injuries, sometimes the signs of internal injury don’t show up for hours or days after the impact—and if that happens, a police report can definitely help you in a personal injury claim. If the impact is such that you have concerns about an injury after the fact—and if you have the time to wait—it is your right to insist upon a police response.

When in Doubt—Call the Police

Given the changes in NMPD’s policies, the best advice for drivers involved in non-injury accidents in Nashville is to use their best judgment. If the accident is little more than a bump or “fender-bender,” you can simply exchange information with the other driver and be on your way. However, if there is any doubt as to whether you will need medical attention, if there is concern about additional liability, or if you feel your own safety is in doubt in any way, then it’s best to err on the side of caution and call the police.

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