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Should You File a Police Report After a Car Accident?

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Why is it Important to File a Police Report After a Car Crash?

Why is it Important to File a Police Report After a Car Crash?

Nov 16, 2021

After a car accident – particularly one where you’re injured – your first thought might, understandably, not be to report the crash to the police. Receiving medical attention after a car accident injury should, of course, be your absolute first priority.

Should You File a Police Report After a Car Accident?

But when a car accident occurs, there a number of reasons why it’s both important and sensible to file a police report – not the least of which includes the fact that, in California, individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes where an injury or death happens are required by law to complete said report.

Let’s take a look at why it’s important to complete a California police report after a car accident, discuss what types of damages may be recoverable after a motor vehicle collision, and review how to file a personal injury claim with Dordulian Law Group in pursuit of maximum financial compensation for any losses sustained.

Do I Need to File a Police Report After a Car Accident?

Car accidents are a common occurrence on California’s often dangerous roads and highways. In 2019, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) confirmed that the Golden State recorded 3,316 fatal crashes leading 3,606 deaths. And in 2017, the California Highway Patrol confirmed 277,160 injuries resulting from car accidents.

With so many car accidents leading to injuries and fatalities happening in California, it’s important for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians alike to understand what the law requires in terms of reporting a motor vehicle collision.

Under California law, drivers involved in car accidents that lead to either a bodily injury (any type or severity) or death are required to file a report with either the applicable police, sheriff, or highway patrol department within 24 hours. This includes any injury or death sustained by a driver, passenger, or pedestrian.

Furthermore, a California car accident involving an injury or death must also be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days of the incident occurring. Additionally, any car accident where more than $1,000 in property damage occurs – regardless of whether or not an injury/fatality is involved – must be reported to the DMV within 10 days.

Is it Illegal to Not Report a California Car Accident?

Failing to report a California car accident involving an injury or death to the proper authorities/entities could result in:

  • A fine between $1,000 and $10,000
  • Up to one year in jail
  • Up to five years in prison for anyone fleeing the scene of an accident
  • Up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine (if only property damage is involved)

How Do I File a Car Accident Police/DMV Report?

The California DMV provides a website where you can download what’s called a SR-1 form and provide all the information related to your car accident. For car accident reports to law enforcement, contact your local police department or California Highway Patrol office to ensure you are in compliance with the law. In many cases, you can report a car accident online, as well as by phone or in person.

How Long Do I Have to Report a California Car Accident?

The following timelines should be followed for car accidents involving injuries or fatalities (or property damage exceeding $1,000):

  • 24 hours from the time of the incident to make a report with appropriate law enforcement
  • 10 days from the time of the incident to make a report with the DMV

Do I Have to Report a Car Accident to My Insurance Company?

Do I Have to Report a Car Accident to My Insurance Company?
When you are technically required to report a car accident will depend on your individual contract with your insurance provider. While it is recommended that car accident victims report a crash to their insurance provider as soon as possible, we at Dordulian Law Group urge anyone – particularly injured parties – to never make a statement or accept a settlement offer when communicating with your insurance provider without first sitting down for a free consultation with an experienced and qualified lawyer. A car accident lawyer can review the circumstances of your case and provide you with critical information related to your legal rights and potential for recovering financial compensation.

What if I Don’t Report a Car Accident?

Reporting a car accident to both law enforcement and the DMV after an injury or fatality is not just required under the law. It’s also very important to make a report so that, in the event that you choose to file a lawsuit – either a personal injury or wrongful death claim – your case has the best chance of reaching a successful outcome.

If a report is not filed, it can hinder your ability to recover various types of financial damages – which could potentially be substantial depending on the nature of your case.

How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit After a Car Accident?

California law stipulates that injured car accident victims typically have two years from the date of the incident to file a civil lawsuit seeking to recover financial compensation. Once that two-year statute of limitations has passed, you will likely no longer have any legal recourse or ability to secure a damages award.

However, it is strongly recommended that you file your personal injury claim as soon as possible after a car accident, as the statute of limitations is not always two years. For example, cases against public or government entities typically have only a six-month deadline. Accordingly, injured victims could lose out on the potential to recover critical financial compensation if their claim is not filed with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.

What Damages are Recoverable After a Car Accident?

Damages can vary on a case-by-case basis and depend on the specific circumstances of your car accident injury. Some common damages recoverable after a car crash injury include:

  • Hospital and medical bills
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Physical therapy costs
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Psychological distress
  • Emotional trauma

When a tragic fatality occurs as a result of another driver’s negligence, the surviving family members may file what’s known as a wrongful death claim to recover various damages.

Some common damages that may be recoverable through a wrongful death car accident claim include:

  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of insurance
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of pension or other benefits
  • Loss of consortium

How Can I File a Car Accident Injury Claim?

If you’ve been injured in a car accident due to another’s negligence, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. A skilled car accident lawyer from Dordulian Law Group (DLG) can help you navigate the legal process and provide the support and expertise you need to ensure you recover the maximum financial compensation you deserve.

DLG is a top-rated and proven personal injury firm with a team of car accident attorneys led by former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Sam Dordulian. With over 25 years of experience and more than 100 jury trial victories, Dordulian offers injured car accident victims like you the peace of mind they need to make a complete recovery – physically, emotionally, and financially.

DLG’s 98% success record has helped our clients recover more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts. For a free and no obligation consultation with a member of our Car Accident Division, contact us today at 818-322-4056.

With DLG, there is never any fee until we recover maximum financial compensation on your behalf for your car accident injury.


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