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Do I Have to Report an Accident to the DMV in California?

Do I Have to Report an Accident to the DMV in California?

The time following a car accident can be stressful and confusing. You may understand that you need to report the accident, but you may wonder, “When do I have to report an accident to the DMV in California?”

Can you just call the police and be done with it, or do you need to report the incident to the DMV myself?

California has specific requirements for reporting motor vehicle accidents, and you must understand your obligations to protect yourself from legal consequences as well as to protect your rights when filing insurance claims and a personal injury claim, if applicable.

For advice regarding your situation and to obtain any legal assistance you may need, contact a car accident attorney in your area as soon as possible.

California Car Accident Reporting Requirements

There are various steps that you need to keep in mind if you have been involved in an accident in California. You should always stop as soon as you know a collision has occurred because failure to do so could result in a hit-and-run charge. If anyone has been injured, or if there is an obstruction of the roadway, you need to call 911 and report the incident to the local police or the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

The California DMV says that regardless of who was at fault for the incident, any parties involved are required by law to report the crash through a Traffic Accident Report SR 1 within 10 days from the date the accident occurs. A collision must be reported under the following circumstances:

  • Someone suffered injuries in the accident.
  • Someone died in the accident.
  • The accident caused more than $1,000 in property damage.

To completely fill out the SR-1 form, you will have to provide various information regarding the incident. This includes how and when the accident occurred, where it happened, your name and driver’s license number, vehicle information, insurance information, as well as any information you have about property damage.

It’s important to note that this form is required to be filed in addition to any report made by police officers or your insurance carrier. You can also have your attorney fill out the form for you.

What Types of Accidents Must I Report?

You should report any type of accident regardless of whether anyone was injured or any substantial property damage occurred. Reporting the accident will create a record of the event, which can be useful should you have to seek legal action later. Some common types of accidents or collisions you need to report include:

  • Two or more vehicles striking each other
  • A vehicle striking a pedestrian or bicyclist
  • A vehicle colliding with a fixed object, such as a utility pole, traffic sign, guardrail, or fence
  • A vehicle passenger falling out of the car
  • A vehicle overturning without striking anything

What Else Should I Do After an Accident Besides Reporting It?

In addition to reporting an accident, there are several important steps you should take to ensure your safety, gather necessary information, and comply with legal requirements. Here are some actions to consider after an accident:

Ensure Safety and Check for Injuries

Prioritize safety by moving to a safe location, especially if the accident occurred on a busy road. Check yourself and others for injuries. Call emergency services immediately if there are serious injuries or medical emergencies. Even if your injuries seem minor, seek medical attention promptly anyway. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, and a medical evaluation is crucial to protecting your well-being. It also creates documentation that you suffered an injury and received treatment, which will be important if you wish to pursue compensation through a personal injury claim. You must also monitor your health and attend follow-up medical appointments as needed.

Exchange Information and Get Witness Statements

Exchange contact information, insurance details, and vehicle registration information with the other parties involved. Include names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance company names, and policy numbers. If there are witnesses, collect their statements and contact information. Their testimony may be valuable if there are disputes about the incident.

Document the Scene and Keep Good Records

Take pictures of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any visible injuries. Document road conditions, traffic signals, and relevant details. Arrange for the repair of your vehicle and follow through with any necessary steps to recover damages, such as obtaining repair estimates. Keep a record of all correspondence with insurance companies, law enforcement, and other relevant parties. Document medical treatment and expenses related to the accident.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with the necessary information and details about the incident. Avoid admitting fault or making statements that could be construed as an admission of guilt. Stick to the facts when discussing the incident.

Contact an Attorney

If you or a loved one sustained injuries in the accident, the number one priority is seeking medical treatment. Your next important step is to contact an experienced car accident attorney near you as soon as you can. Our personal injury lawyers in Riverside can inform you of the specific steps you should take based on the severity and individual circumstances of the accident. We can help protect your rights and interests and guide you through the legal process to hold the at-fault driver accountable and recover damages if needed.

Can I Get Compensation from the Other Driver?

If another driver caused the accident that injured you, you may be entitled to various types of compensation, including coverage of your medical bills, property damage expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering damages, and more.

Whether you can get compensation from the other driver after an accident depends on various factors, including the circumstances of the accident, liability, insurance coverage, and applicable laws. Here are some key considerations:

  • Fault and Liability: If the other driver is determined to be at fault for the accident, you may have a basis for seeking compensation. Liability is often established through evidence, witness statements, and police reports.
  • Insurance Coverage: The primary source of compensation is typically the at-fault driver’s insurance. In most cases, you would file a claim with the at-fault driver’s liability insurance to cover your medical expenses, vehicle damage, and other losses.
  • Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage: If the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, you may be able to seek compensation through your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage if you have this type of coverage.
  • Settlement Negotiation: Your attorney may negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to reach a settlement. It’s important to document your losses and provide evidence to support your claim.
  • Legal Action: If the insurance company won’t negotiate a fair settlement or disputes liability, your attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
  • Statute of Limitations: There is a time limit, known as the statute of limitations, within which you must file a lawsuit for personal injury or property damage. In California, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the incident. If you don’t have an attorney file a lawsuit for you within that time, you’ll likely lose your right to pursue compensation through the courts.

It’s advisable to consult with a personal injury attorney to understand your rights, evaluate your case, and navigate the legal process. An attorney can guide you on California’s accident reporting and personal injury laws and help you pursue the fair compensation to which you may be entitled.

Work With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

If you or somebody you love has been injured or sustained property damage in a vehicle accident, you may need to work with a skilled attorney to help with your case. A Riverside car accident lawyer can use their resources to fully investigate every aspect of your claim, gather the evidence needed to prove liability and work with insurance carriers to recover maximum compensation for you.

Contact Bentley & More LLP today to request a free consultation.