Do I Have to File a Police Report for a Car Accident in California?

June 21, 2021
Barrios Machado

Do I Have to File a Police Report for a Car Accident in California?When you enter a vehicle, there’s no way of telling when you’ll get involved in a car accident. 

Knowing the right steps to take in the case of an accident could help to prevent you from getting into a precarious legal situation.  

Even if your vehicle appears intact, and even if you seem uninjured, pain and other bodily damages have a way of turning up later on. 

The best advice is to file a police report even if no injuries or damages are apparent. Consult with a reputable California auto accident attorney for legal assistance regarding accidents or injuries. 

How Long Do You Have to File a Police Report After a Car Accident?  

When a car accident in California results in injury or death, the law requires the drivers involved to call the police and submit a written report of the incident within 24 hours. 

It is important to have an authority present on the scene to assess the situation and make an official police report with both drivers on record.

According to Vehicle Code 20008 and 16000, you must file a written report with the police or the California Highway Patrol within 24 hours if:

  • The collision led to one or more injuries, or 
  • The crash caused one or more deaths.

Be sure to promptly report the accident to the police. Violation of these statutes can lead to a traffic ticket and an infraction charge.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) must be furnished with similar reports within ten days if:

  • The property damage amounted to $1,000 or greater.
  • The accident led to a person’s injury.
  • The accident resulted in someone’s death.

Your window of time to notify your insurance provider of the accident depends on your specific contract. Reporting an accident as early as possible is crucial for a proper claim to be filed.

Personal injury claims have a two-year statute of limitations in California, while property damage following auto accidents has a three-year statute of limitations.

How Long Do You Have to Report a Hit-and-Run Accident in California?

A "hit-and-run" accident is committed when a person:

  • Injures someone and / or causes property damage
  • Flees from the accident scene
  • Fails to identify himself or herself to the other parties involved

Hit-and-run collisions are classified as either misdemeanors or felonies in California. A hit-and-run that only causes damage to property is seen as a misdemeanor. It becomes a felony when somebody gets injured.

You might think it’s alright to leave since it’s only a minor accident. That would be a mistake.

Consider these scenarios:

  • You were involved in a minor collision where the other driver is at fault.
  • You may have caused an accident, even if your vehicle didn’t crash into anything.

These situations are considered hit-and-run accidents in California, and you could face charges. It’s best to stay on the scene, promptly file a police report, and present your insurance, personal data, and other information relevant to the case.  

Contact an Orange County Car Accident Lawyer Today

California law offers you options if you have been an auto accident victim in Orange County. A skilled attorney can significantly increase your chances of attaining the financial recovery you deserve. 

A smart first move is to hire an Orange County accident lawyer to help you defend your rights.

Contact us online or at (714) 515-9696 for an evaluation of your case.

Have Questions? Get in Touch.

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