Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Rhode Island Car Accident Report Basics

By square mileage, Rhode Island is the smallest of all the states. The close confines haven't translated into higher accident rates—Rhode Island remains one of the safest states to drive in. But that doesn't mean accidents are non-existent. Chances are, you'll be involved in a car crash sooner or later, and it's a good idea to be prepared for the possibility.

Being in a motor vehicle accident means entering the world of auto insurance claims. While seeking recovery for any personal injuries or property damage you may have suffered, you'll become familiar with an important document called an accident report. In fact, in Rhode Island, you'll have to deal with two of them.

Sound confusing? It can be. But the focus of this article is to get you up to speed on Rhode Island car accident reports. We'll also touch on the relevant motor vehicle laws, determining fault and negligence, and what role insurance will play.

Read on to learn about Rhode Island car accident report basics.

Motor Vehicle Accident Laws in Rhode Island

Most automotive laws in Rhode Island are like those of other states, but not all of them. For instance, certain types of aftermarket window tint are prohibited in Rhode Island. Below, find some of the Rhode Island laws you'll encounter after an auto accident.

Mandatory Liability Auto Insurance in Rhode Island

All drivers in Rhode Island are required to carry a certain amount of liability auto insurance coverage. When someone is deemed responsible for causing an accident, either in full or in part, the damages they inflicted will be paid for by this policy. The state-mandated minimums are:

  • $25,000 for the injury or death of a single person in a single accident
  • $50,000 for the injury or death of two or more persons in a single accident
  • $25,000 for the injury or destruction of property in a single accident
  • A $75,000 combined single-limit policy, which is given as an option to buy

While these are the minimums, you can have higher amounts of coverage in exchange for costlier premiums. Keep in mind that any awards against you that exceed your coverage will have to be covered out of pocket.

To have a better idea of what's involved and how long it'll take to resolve insurance claims, take a look at FindLaw's Rhode Island Car Accident Settlement Process and Timeline article.

Determining Fault and Negligence in Rhode Island

It makes sense that the person responsible for causing an accident should be the one who pays for injuries and repairs, right? If that sounds fair to you, you'll be happy to know that the state of Rhode Island agrees.

Rhode Island is an at-fault state, which makes the driver(s) responsible for the accident required to pay damages to the accident victims. These are usually covered through their insurance company. If your medical bills and damages exceed the at-fault driver's coverage limits, you can file a car accident lawsuit to recover the additional amount. Or you can seek payment through your own insurance's underinsured policy coverage.

When it comes to who gets how much, Rhode Island uses the pure comparative negligence model. This system allows everyone involved in the accident to be eligible to recover damages, less the percentage of determined fault. If you're 10% to blame, you'll recover 90% of your damages. Even if you're 99% at fault, you can be awarded 1% of your damages.

It's not always easy to understand what you're entitled to receive from a negligent driver after an accident in Rhode Island. FindLaw's Rhode Island Car Accident Compensation Laws article provides clarity and a detailed look into the laws you need to know.

What To Do After an Accident in Rhode Island

The moments after an auto accident are going to be confusing. Car crashes aren't a common occurrence in your life, so it's normal to be rattled and disoriented. Take a deep breath and try to remember your legal responsibilities.

Don't leave the scene of the accident, even if the accident doesn’t seem like much. The health and well-being of those involved should be the most important concern. So, check on everyone, including yourself. If necessary, offer the level of first aid you feel qualified to give or call 911.

If your vehicle is still drivable, move it to a safer location after taking pictures of the accident scene. You are required to alert law enforcement about the accident if any of the following conditions apply:

  • Damage to vehicle preventing safe, normal operation
  • Injury or death
  • Property damage over $1,000
  • An unattended vehicle was hit
  • A domesticated animal was hit

It's a good idea to call the police for any accident, no matter how minor. When you call 911, be sure to let the operator know about any injuries and their severity.

You may need to file an accident report of your own, which means you have to gather certain information. We'll tell you what you'll need in the next section of this article.

Accident Reports and Police Reports in Rhode Island

Police accident reports are important documents that attempt to recreate the accident through statements and objective data from the scene. They will be a large part of how the insurance companies determine fault and negligence for the involved drivers.

Even if a police officer responds to the scene, conducts an investigation, and submits their own required police report, you may still have to file a separate accident report. If the accident involves injury, death, or damage to the property of any one person over $1,000, you must also file a report with the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 21 days of the accident.

You'll note many of the same observations that the police officer will, such as:

  • The name, driver's license number, phone number, address, insurance policy number and carrier, license plate number, and registration number and state of the other involved driver(s)
  • Descriptions of any injuries
  • The exact location
  • The exact time of the collision
  • The road conditions
  • The names, contact information, and addresses of all parties who saw the accident, and the information of everyone in the other vehicle
  • Witness statements
  • An exact description of the damage

Take down the name of the investigating offer, as well as the accident report number from their report. You have 21 days to file your report with the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles. The motor vehicle accident report form is available at police departments and online.

The police report will be a bit more detailed than your version. It will include diagrams of the accident scene. You'll need a copy of the police accident report for your insurance claim and any personal injury lawsuits you may pursue.

Barring investigative delays, the report should be available within 72 hours of the accident through the Rhode Island State Police website. You can also pick up a copy at any Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles office. The fee for a report is $10 online or $0.15 per page at a police station.

Rhode Island Car Accident Report Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a recap of the information discussed above. It also includes a summary of state laws related to Rhode Island car accident reports, including links to important code sections.

Relevant Rhode Island Automotive Statutes

Rhode Island General Laws Title 31. Motor and Other Vehicles:

Law Enforcement Notification Required?

Must notify local law enforcement or Rhode Island State Police immediately if the accident involves:

  • Injury

  • Death

  • Damage to vehicle preventing safe, normal operation

  • Property damage of at least $1,000

  • An unattended vehicle was hit

  • A domesticated animal was hit

Additional Report Required by Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)?

Must submit written or in-person report to the chief of police if the accident involves injury, death, or total property damage to an apparent extent of at least $1,000.

Report Deadline?

Within 21 days after the accident

Who Must Report?

  • Every driver involved in the accident

  • If the driver is physically incapable of making a report and is not the owner of the vehicle, the owner must file the report within 21 days of learning about the accident

Note: State laws are subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include 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(s) you are researching.

Related Questions About Auto Accidents in Rhode Island

There's a lot to know after a car crash. The answers below may be helpful to your situation.

My wrist got hurt in my accident last year. It doesn't seem to be getting better, and I might need surgery. Is it too late to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who hit me?

The time you have to file a case is known as a statute of limitations. In Rhode Island, you have three years to file a personal injury claim. This means you still have time. Gather all your medical bills and expenses, insurance information, and a copy of your police crash report before speaking with a car accident lawyer for legal advice.

Am I supposed to have PIP for medical expenses after an accident?

PIP, or personal injury protection insurance, isn’t required in Rhode Island. It's not even available in that form. PIP is important in no-fault states, as it will cover your medical costs after an accident regardless of who is at fault.

Some insurance companies in Rhode Island offer Medpay, which is a different system to cover medical expenses. You can speak with your insurance agent if you want to know more.

Rhode Island Car Accident Report Basics: Related Resources

Have Questions About Car Accident Reporting Requirements in Rhode Island? Ask a Lawyer

While the state may be small, the consequences of a Rhode Island car accident can be huge. You may face fines, an uncooperative insurance company, a lawsuit, and even criminal charges. Speak to a local car accident attorney today to make sure you've complied with Rhode Island car accident report laws and other legal obligations.

Was this helpful?

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.

Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • A lawyer can help seek fair compensation on your behalf
  • Car accident claims are complex and insurance carriers have lawyers on their side

Get tailored legal advice and ask a lawyer questions about your accident. Many attorneys offer free consultations.


 If you need an attorney, find one right now.

Copied to clipboard

Find a Lawyer

More Options