FAQs: Car Accident Reports in California

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Car accident reports are often a source of confusion for California drivers. Many don’t know when filing a car accident report is required or how having a report on file can offer legal and financial protection. 

Have you recently been involved in a California car crash? If so, you can benefit from learning the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about car accident reports in California.

When Am I Required To Report an Accident in California?

California law requires you to report any California car accident that involves: 

  • Death
  • Injury
  • $1000 or more in property damage

Failing to report a crash that meets any of these criteria can leave you in serious legal trouble. However, it’s a good idea to report any California crash, even if the law doesn’t require it.

How Long Do You Have To Report an Accident in California? 

One of the most common questions California drivers ask is, “How long do you have to report a car accident?” Reporting an accident to the police after the fact is okay as long as you don’t miss the required deadlines. If a crash meets the criteria for required reporting, you have 24 hours to report it to the police or Highway Patrol. 

In addition to the police, you should document the accident for your nearest California DMV by submitting an SR-1 report. You have 10 days from the date of the crash to report it to the DMV. 

Should I Report a Minor California Car Accident?

If you’re wondering when to file a police report for car damage after a California crash, the safe answer is always. First of all, insurance companies often require a police report before they can approve your claim. Even if you’re planning to pay out-of-pocket for repairs, it’s still a good idea to have an official police report on file. 

Reporting even minor accidents to the police is smart. When you have it on record that the accident was small, it protects you from false claims the other driver may later make. If you suffer delayed accident injuries, a report also helps establish that the accident was the source of your injuries. 

What Happens if I Don’t Report an Accident in California? 

If no one was killed or injured and property damage was under $1000, nothing happens if you fail to report a California accident. However, failing to file puts you at risk of false claims by the other driver and makes personal injury claims challenging. 

Car accidents often result in delayed injuries. For example, if the crash causes a spinal injury that you don’t discover right away, it can be very difficult to prove that the crash was the source of it. Filing a police report and seeing a doctor after the accident are steps that help protect you in the long run.

So what happens if you’re required to report the crash and don’t? In that case, you can face marks against your license or, depending on the circumstances, criminal charges and fines. 

How Do I Obtain a Copy of My California Car Accident Report?

How you obtain a copy of your crash report depends on which law enforcement agency responded to the accident. If the California Highway Patrol took the report, you can visit a local office or mail a completed CHP 190 form to request a copy of the CHP crash report

If a local California police department took the report, you can call or visit your local precinct. Once there, you can ask about how to obtain a copy. 

Playing It Safe With California Car Accident Reporting

It’s hard to know what the long-term impact of a car crash will be. The safest policy is to always report a California crash, no matter how minor it may seem. In many instances, taking the time to file a police report can save you from significant stress down the road. 

Contact Robles Babaee, Personal Injury Lawyers or Visit Our Law Firm in Santa Ana for Help Today

Robles Babaee, Personal Injury Lawyers
1851 E 1st St Suite 810, Santa Ana, CA 92705
(714) 263-3700

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