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California Car Accident Report Basics

California Car Accident Report Basics

Did you get into a car accident in the Golden State? If so, you may be wondering what to do next.

If the car accident resulted in death, injury, or property damage exceeding $1,000 then the accident must be reported within 10 days to the state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You must report the accident even if a police officer or the California Highway Patrol (CHP) writes and files a police report on it. Failure to report the car accident within 10 days to the DMV can result in you losing your driving privileges.

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California Car Accident Report Overview

Legal aspects of making a California car accident report are covered in the below table, including information on how to file a car crash report in California.

State Statutes

California Vehicle Code section 16000

When To Report:

If you are involved in a vehicle accident that occurred in California, you must report it to the DMV if:

  • There was property damage greater than $1,000 (greater than $750 for accidents prior to January 1, 2017)
  • Anyone incurred personal injury (no matter how minor), or
  • Anyone was killed.

How To File a Car Crash Report in California:

To file a car crash report in California with the DMV, you, your insurance agent, or your legal representative must complete the Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California (Form SR-1). In order to fill out the form SR-1 you will need to gather the following information:

  • Scene of the accident and time of the accident
  • Other driver's contact information (name, address, and date of birth)
  • Other driver's license information (state of license, driver's license number)
  • Other driver's license plate number and state
  • Other driver's insurance information (driver's insurance company, policy number, and expiration date)
  • The name and address of all insurance policy holders
  • The name and address of all vehicle owners of vehicles involved in the accident
  • An explanation of injuries or property damage
  • The name and address of any persons complaining of bodily injury after the accident

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law you are researching.

Exceptions to California Car Accident Reporting

According to California law, a report of an automobile accident is not required if the car or motor vehicle involved in the accident was owned, leased by, or used under the direction of the United States, California, another state, or a local agency.

Not Reporting for One Year

Moreover, if none of the parties involved in an automobile accident has reported the accident to the DMV within one year after the date of the accident, the DMV is not required to file a report on the accident and the driver's license suspension requirements of the state will not apply.

Research the Law

Learn More About Car Accident Reports in California From a Lawyer

If you're still uncertain whether or not you need to report a car accident under California law, have questions on how to file a car crash report in California, or need to know more about insurance coverage and your possible financial responsibility for an auto accident, you may want to contact a skilled car accident attorney today. Many personal injury lawyers, including car accident lawyers, offer a free consultation.

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