Do You Have to Report a Car Accident in California?

Car Accidents | June 22, 2021

Certain steps are important for you to take as the victim of a car accident in California. One is reporting your accident to the correct authorities. Although you may be tempted not to call the police or report your crash, this may be against the law and lead to serious penalties. It could also weaken your insurance claim if you are injured and wish to recover financial compensation for your medical bills and property damage.

California Law and Accident Reporting

Reporting a car accident to the police and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is a legal requirement in certain scenarios in California. California Vehicle Code Section 16000 defines a reportable accident as one that results in bodily injury, death or damage to the property of any one person in excess of $1,000. If your crash meets these criteria, you have 10 days to report the car accident to the police. Failing to do so could risk having your driver’s license suspended or revoked.

What Information Do You Need To Report the Accident?

Reporting a car accident means contacting the police as soon as possible – typically from the scene of the crash – as well as reporting the crash to the DMV. You should always report a car accident to the police, as the police report can contain important information and serve as evidence for your injury claim.

When reporting your car accident to the DMV, you will need to fill out Form SR-1 – the Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California. This form requests basic information about your car accident, including the time and location, the other driver’s information, the other driver’s insurance policy number, and a description of injuries or property damage.

Why Would Someone Not Want To Report a Crash?

There are many cases of drivers failing to report accidents to the police or the DMV in California. The most common reason is a victim believing the crash was minor, only to find out later that it did cause injuries or that vehicle repairs will cost more than $1,000. This is why it is wise to always call the police from the scene of a car accident, major or minor.

Another common reason for a party not to report a crash is fear of getting in trouble by the police. Although it is true that you may receive a citation if you committed a moving violation, it is still important to obtain an accident report for your insurance claim. Finally, a party may not want to report a crash if he or she does not have insurance. Understand, however, that failing to report a car accident could result in additional serious penalties.

What To Do if You Are Injured by an Uninsured Driver

If you get into a car accident in California and discover that the other driver does not have car insurance, do not let the driver convince you not to report the accident. Protect yourself by calling 911 right away. Failing to obtain a police report could make it much more difficult to qualify for financial compensation from your own insurance provider. It is also important to involve the police so that the uninsured driver is penalized and required to purchase insurance before driving again.

After a car accident with an uninsured driver, call your own insurance company to ask if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance. This is an optional type of coverage in the State of California. If you do have this insurance, it will cover your medical bills and property repairs even if the other driver is uninsured.

If you do not have this type of insurance, your only other option for financial recovery may be a lawsuit against a third party, such as the manufacturer of a vehicle or the government. Contact a car accident lawyer in Los Angeles for assistance with a claim against an uninsured driver.

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