How to Report a Car Accident in California

Have you been in a car accident and are unsure of the next steps to take?

Car accidents can be traumatic experiences. Not only do they cause physical injuries, but they also create an emotional and financial burden for those involved. If you find yourself in a car accident in California, reporting the auto accident is crucial. Whether it’s a minor fender-bender or a severe collision, it’s important to know what steps to take.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of reporting a car accident in California, from what information to collect at the scene of the accident in order to file an insurance claim.

How To Report A Car Accident In California

After a car accident in California, it is mandatory to report the incident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if certain conditions are met.

  • The accident resulted in property damage exceeding $1,000
  • The accident resulted in injury or death

Reporting a car accident to the police department is a crucial step in ensuring that the appropriate actions are taken and that all parties involved are protected. Whether you are the driver of one of the vehicles involved in the accident, a witness, or a passerby who happened to witness the incident, it is important to know how to properly report a car accident. 

Here are certain steps you should take to ensure that you and everyone involved are safe and that you comply with California law:

Stop at the Scene of the Accident

The first step after a vehicle accident is to stop at the scene of the accident. If you leave the scene of an accident, it is considered a hit-and-run, which is a severe criminal offense in California. If possible, move your vehicle to a safe location away from the flow of traffic. In case you are a victim, try to move to a safe space and try to follow the next essential step.

report a car accident in california

Check for Injuries and Call 911

Check yourself and your passengers for any possible bodily injury. If anyone is injured, call 911 immediately. If you are unsure about the extent of the injuries, it is always best to err on the side of caution and call 911.

Exchange Information with the Other Driver

Exchange information with the other driver involved in the accident. Include the following information, if possible:

  • Name, address, and phone number
  • Insurance company name and policy number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Vehicle make, model, and license plate number

Gather Evidence at the Scene

  • Photos of the accident scene
  • Photos of any damages to vehicles or property
  • Witness statements and contact information
  • Police report number (if available)

Seek Legal Advice

If you were injured in the accident, or the accident was not your fault, you may need to seek legal advice. A personal injury attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options and can help you navigate the insurance claim process.

Report the Accident to the DMV

As previously mentioned, in California, reporting an accident to the DMV is required within ten days if it caused property damage over $1,000, injury, or death. You can report the automobile accident online, by mail, or in person at a local DMV office.

File a Report with Your Insurance Company

Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with all the necessary information, including the police report number, witness statements, and photos of the accident scene.

Knowing how to report a car accident in California is essential for all drivers. Remember to stay calm and be courteous when speaking with the other driver/s involved in the accident.

Victim of a car accident in California?

What Is A SR-1 and Why Is It Important?

In California, if you’re involved in an automobile accident, you may be required to fill out a form called an SR-1, which is also known as the Report of Traffic Accidents Occurring in California. The SR-1 form is used by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to gather information about the accident and to determine if you were properly insured at the time of the accident.

The SR-1 form asks for basic information about the accident, such as the date, time, and crash location, as well as the names and contact information of the involved drivers and any passengers involved. You’ll also need to provide your insurance information, including your policy number and the name of your insurance company.

If someone was injured or killed in the accident, you’d need to provide more detailed information on the SR-1 form. This includes the name and contact information of the injured person/s or the family of the deceased, as well as the extent of their injuries or the cause of death.

It’s important to fill out the SR-1 form accurately and completely to avoid any delays in the claims process. You should also make sure to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible, even if you’re not required to fill out an SR-1 form.

If you fail to report the accident to the DMV, you may face fines and penalties, which could also affect your ability to file an insurance claim. It’s important to report the accident as soon as possible to avoid any negative consequences.

Tips For Avoiding Common Mistakes When Reporting A Car Accident

When reporting a car accident, it’s important to be thorough and accurate to avoid common mistakes that could potentially impact the outcome of the situation. Error or omissions in the information provided during the reporting process can result in delays, difficulties with insurance claims, or legal complications. To help you navigate the reporting process effectively, here are some keys to avoiding common mistakes:

  1. Don’t admit fault. Even if you think you may have caused the accident, it’s important not to admit fault at the scene of the accident. Admitting fault can be used against you during the claims process, and it may affect your ability to receive financial compensation for your damages.
  2. Provide accurate and complete information. When reporting a car accident, make sure to provide complete information, such as the exact or approximate location of the accident, the date and time it occurred, the parties involved, and any injuries sustained. Avoid making assumptions or guesses, and stick to the facts as you know them.
  3. Don’t forget to gather information. It’s important to gather as much information as possible at the scene of the accident. This evidence can be valuable in supporting your report and helping to determine fault.
  4. Don’t wait too long to report the accident. Report the car accident as soon as possible to the appropriate authorities, such as the police and your insurance company. Seek legal professionals that can advise you on how to handle this information and support you in filing a claim.
  5. Don’t forget to get medical attention. Even if you feel fine after the accident, it’s important to get medical care as soon as possible. Some injuries, such as whiplash, may not show up until hours or even days after the accident. Getting medical attention can also help you document any injuries you sustained in the accident.

By following these tips, you can avoid common mistakes, and ensure that the information you provide is accurate and reliable. This can help streamline the reporting process, protect your rights, and facilitate a fair and efficient resolution of the situation.

Get The Help You Need. Consult A Skilled Car Accident Attorney Now!

Accident victims face more than just minor injuries. They often experience a traumatic event that can lead to shock and forgetfulness. This can result in failure to report the accident or gather the necessary evidence.

To protect your rights and get advice on how to properly report a motor vehicle accident in California, experienced car accident attorneys can help you to take action and ensure you are getting the fair financial compensation you deserve. 

At Farahi Law Firm, we navigate the entire legal process for an accident claim and support our clients in their recovery. We are dedicated to bringing justice to our clients, and we have recovered millions of dollars in compensation.

We are here to help you! Call (844) 824-2955 to get a FREE consultation. Available 24/7.

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