In July 2008, the small town of Radcliff, Kentucky put into effect a new ordinance that requires payment for services after an auto accident. These services include police and fire services. Radcliff has modeled their ordinance after a similar one in effect in Erlanger, Kentucky.
What does the ordinance include?
Basically, the ordinance states that if you are the cause of an accident and don’t live in that city, you will be charged for the police and fire services. The thought process behind the ordinance is that the tax payers of the particular city should not have to pay for accidents caused by people from out of town. After an accident in one of these cities, a bill for the services is sent to a recovery service that will then bill the driver’s insurance. Some insurance companies will pay the fee, but most won’t. They will then forward the bill to the driver. Many worry that their insurance costs will increase due to the taxes that are surfacing across the country. According to an article in USA Today, during the past few years, cities in at least 15 states have passed ordinances requiring at-fault drivers to pay up.
Related USA Today article: Towns seek cash per crash from out-of-town drivers
Other concerns associated with this ordinance
Other concerns relate to the thought process that a driver may have after an accident. Should they call the police? What will the charges be if the police respond? If the driver chooses not to call the police, no accident report will be filed. No accident report because the police weren't contacted can affect how fast an accident victim receives their payment. The insurance adjuster will have to speak with their driver to determine fault. If there is an accident report prepared by the police, a decision can be made without a statement from the at-fault driver. That is, if the cause of the accident is obvious in the report.
Related: Kentucky Uniform Police Traffic Collision Report
As a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I have concerns with this type of procedure. Should I be taxed or charged for the police and fire department doing their job? Will this have an effect on public safety if response is based on payment? How long will it be before all at-fault drivers are charged regardless of their county of residence? I believe this could be dangerous. I would like to see the statistics from the collections and the effect on the drivers as well as the cities that are imposing the fee.