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

In short, yes you do need to report an accident to the DMV in California. You should call the police as soon as the accident occurs. This will ensure there is a professional person on-site to help both parties exchange information and to officially report on the incident. 

It is good practice to call the police after any accident you are involved in, regardless of whether you notice vehicular damage or personal injuries. You can never know what will get pulled up later and it is better to have a complete official report.

Injury or death?

If the car accident you are in causes an injury to a human or causes someone to die, you must report this. This does not differ whether the injured person is a driver or a pedestrian. The law demands that the police or highway patrol is called to any serious incidents. 

The accident must be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles in the event that injury or death is sustained. If there is damage to personal property that exceeds the value of $1,000, this accident must also be reported to the DMV. These should all be reported within 10 days of the accident occurring. 

How long do I have to report the accident?

In the event that the highway patrol or the police force is called to the scene of the accident, they will have 24 hours to file their written report. You must submit a written report to the DMV within 10 days of the accident. 

The precise time frame for reporting the accident to your insurance provider varies. Different companies will have different policies and you should refer to your contract for more specific information. Generally speaking, the sooner you report an accident the better. 

The state of California has statutes of limitations on personal injury claims and property damage after car accidents. These are 2 and 3 years respectively. 

Where and how do you file the accident report?

You should call the non-emergency line for your local police department or the California Highway Patrol. You can report the incident to them over the phone, or wait for an agent to come out to the site and make their own evaluation. 

If you are reporting the accident to the DMV, you can do this online. You will need to find the report form named SR1 that is downloadable from their website. The California Vehicle Code 1806 states that the DMV must record the information on the accident, irrespective of who is at fault.

When reporting the accident to your insurance company, you can call them on the phone. This will allow you to speak directly to an insurance representative and report it efficiently. 

You can request that your lawyer, insurance agent, or another designated representative files this report on your behalf. The DMV report must be submitted even if you have already submitted reports to law enforcement, Highway Patrol, or insurance companies. This is because their reports are not comprehensive enough to satisfy the filing requirements for the DMV.

What do you need to report an accident to the DMV in California?

You will need your personal information such as your driving license, vehicle license plate number, the insurance information for the vehicle, and the other party’s vehicle and insurance information. 

You will need to supply names, addresses, and dates of birth for all parties that were driving at the time of the incident. If you are the driver but not the policyholder, you will need to supply their name and address. The same goes for the owner of the vehicles involved.

You will also be required to fill in many other details such as the location and time of the incident and the role that you played in it. As well as this, you will need to detail any injuries or damage to properties that were sustained.

Is it illegal to fail to report an accident?

If the car accident resulted in death or injury, it is illegal to fail to report it. If you are involved you must personally report it, whether the incident was your fault or another person’s.

This is because there may be underlying issues caused by the accident that could present a few months down the line. Failure to report the incident leaves you open to liability or could cause you to lose out on a settlement. 

If the accident occurred on the driver’s private property or a military base and only involves the driver’s personal property with no death or injury resulting, this is not required to be reported.

If the accident involves an unregistered vehicle like a snowmobile, husbandry implement, or an off-road vehicle, these also do not need to be reported.

What happens if you do not report a car accident?

In the best case, you will simply be out of pocket for any car repairs or medical fees. In the worst case, you could be thrown into jail.

You could also be at risk of a fine and, depending on the severity of the accident, you could lose your driving abilities. 

What are the insurance rules for California?

In all of the states, there is a set of specifications for the minimum insurance requirements for drivers. In California, the insurance rules are as follows. Failure to meet these requirements means that you are driving on the roads illegally. 

Every driver should hold $15,000 for the injury or death of one person during a crash. They should also hold $30,000 for the injury or death of multiple people during a crash. Finally, their insurance should cover $5,000 for damage to property. 

It is recommended that you should also hold uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, This is not required to drive legally, but it can help to protect you in the case of an accident. If someone crashes into you who is uninsured or has minimum policy coverage limits, this will protect you.