In complex and life-threatening situations, car accident victims typically don’t second guess calling the police for help. However, in car crashes that appear less severe or leave individuals seemingly unharmed, those involved may question whether it’s necessary to report an accident to the police. In California, drivers must report every accident involving injuries, death, or damage exceeding one thousand dollars to the police and DMV. 

Without a police report for an accident, you may forfeit the opportunity to recover compensation for damages, losses, and costs related to accident-related injuries. At Setareh Law Firm, we understand car accidents often cause trauma and shock. Regardless of the apparent severity of an accident, if you are injured or suffer damages, seeking legal representation may help recover total compensation when filing a claim. 

When Is a Car Accident Report Required Under California Law?

Calling the police onto the scene of an accident is generally a good practice because it benefits all parties involved to have a professional who can help make a report and exchange information. At times, accidents may not appear severe or have resulted in damage. However, injuries and challenges may result from any accident. Despite the appearance of your car or an initial state of shock, filing a report is required by the law in most cases. 

A police report is required in California when the following is true:

  • An accident results in injury or death to a driver or pedestrian 
  • An accident results in injury, death, or property damage valued over $1,000

Reporting an accident to the police is essential because a proper car accident claim and injury case can be initiated to resolve any damages. In addition to filing a police report on time, injured parties may be eligible to file a claim and recover compensation if filing within California’s two-year statutory period for injury claims. 

How Long Do I Have to File a Police Report for a Car Accident?

Failure to report an accident, especially in the case of fatal collisions or a hit-and-run, may result in fines, losing driving privileges, and jail time. Additionally, injured parties may forfeit an opportunity to pursue total compensation for non-economic and economic damages. 

For accidents involving injury and death, drivers have 24 hours from the accident to file a written report with the local police department. Additionally, drivers must report the accident to the DMV within ten days. For cases involving property damage over one thousand dollars, drivers must also report the accident to the DMV within ten days. 

How a Police Report May Help Your Case to Recover Compensatory Damages 

In personal injury cases, a police report can be a beneficial aspect of evidence. If you contacted the police after an accident and law enforcement responded to the scene, you do not have to file a report independently. The responding officer takes responsibility for recording the events, statements, and other relevant information.

Police reports may contain information such as: 

  • Statements from all parties involved
  • Identifying information for parties involved 
  • Descriptions of property damage
  • Narrative of the accident from the responding officer’s perspective 
  • Any citations or tickets issued for the circumstances of the accident 
  • Accurate recording of when and where the accident took place 
  • Contact information for witnesses 

If you don’t ask for the police to respond to the scene, you must report a traffic accident by filling out an SR-1 form and notifying the local police department. Once the report is completed and logged in the system, you have a right to request a copy of the final report. Insurance companies request a police report to review it, get a clear idea of what occurred, and use any evidence against your claim. 

Our legal team will review the report and build and use solid evidence against the parties at fault. Having a police report that explains the other party is at fault builds a strong defense against any insurance adjuster’s tactics in diminishing the compensation you are owed. 

Can I File a Claim for My Injuries Without a Police Report? 

In cases where a police report is not available, the injured may still have an opportunity to pursue compensation with other evidence. While the information on a police report is beneficial, video surveillance, witnesses, accident reconstruction, and driving records may be compiled to build an irrefutable and accurate defense for your injuries. You don’t have to face the challenges of an injury claim or lawsuit on your own, as our car accident lawyer may help you feel more at ease by providing the necessary legal resources. 

Speak With Our Compassionate Car Accident Attorney at Setareh Law to File an Injury Claim 

With the help of our Spanish-speaking attorney, Daniel Setareh, many injured car accident victims in California have filed a claim and recovered compensable damages. At Setareh Law Firm, we understand no two cases are the same, and we tailor our legal services to help our clients with eligible claims and lawsuits. 

After you file a police report, we may help you recover evidence, and expert witnesses, and reconstruct the accident to prove the negligence and liability of the driver responsible for the crash. Our team aims to guide you and help you understand your rights after an accident. To speak with our legal team and schedule a consultation, complete a contact form or call (310) 659-1826