Driving is one of life’s many joys. But accidents happen. Especially in California, where the populous state has become known for its heavy traffic that can cause even the most defensive of drivers to get into an accident. So, if you’re one of the unlucky Californians who have gotten into a car accident, being educated on the state’s car accident reporting requirements can help you avoid getting into further trouble.
Generally, you must report any car accident that caused injury, death, or property damage to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or to the local police department where the accident occurred as soon as possible. The maximum amount of time you have to report the accident is ten days. If you do not report the accident and someone files a complaint against you, your license could be suspended, among other penalties.
If you find yourself in a car accident, it’s important to stay calm and take the following steps:
- Pull over immediately. It’s the law in California to stop your car immediately after an accident occurs. It’s also in your personal best interest to get off the road to avoid further accidents. If you are able, locate a safe place to pull over on the side of the road, park your car, turn on your hazard lights, and stay put inside your car until the police arrive.
- Check for injuries. You should quickly check yourself and any passengers for any injuries and call 911 immediately if anyone is injured. Even if you don’t think you’re injured, it’s always best to get checked out by a medical professional as some injuries might not be immediately apparent.
- Exchange information. You should exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident to support your insurance claim. Be sure to get the other driver’s:
- Insurance company and policy number
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Contact information (phone number, email, etc.)
- Collect witness information. If any witnesses to the accident are present, be sure to get their names and contact information as well. Their recollection of the accident can be crucial in court if there are any disputes about what happened.
- Document the accident. Once you’ve exchanged information with the other driver and have called the police, you must document what happened. Try to take as many pictures as possible of the accident scene, damage to all vehicles involved, and any injuries that you or your passengers have sustained. It’s also a good idea to take some pictures and/or videos of the surrounding area, road conditions, and weather conditions.
- Get a copy of the police report. Once the police have arrived on the scene, they will assess the situation and will usually file a police report. Be sure to get a copy of the police report as it will be helpful when filing an insurance claim.
- Work with an experienced car accident attorney. If you’ve been in a serious car accident, it’s important to work with an experienced car accident attorney who can help you navigate the complex legal proceedings and fight for the highest amount of compensation you deserve. You will be up against big insurance companies who will have their own team of lawyers working to minimize the total amount of money they have to pay out. An experienced car accident attorney will level the playing field and fight to get you the best possible outcome that you deserve.
Reporting a car accident in California doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. By following the steps above and being prepared, you can make sure that everything is handled in a timely and efficient manner.
Q: What happens if you don’t report a car accident in California?
A: If you don’t report a car accident in California, you could face a number of penalties. These include having your driver’s license suspended, being fined, and/or increasing your insurance rates. These penalties can be more severe if the accident resulted in injury or death.
Q: Should I file a police report for a minor car accident in California?
A: While it’s not required, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and file a police report. This is especially true when damage exists on either vehicle or if anyone was injured in the accident. People who don’t report minor accidents could find themselves in hot water later on if the other driver involved decides to file a police report or an insurance claim.
Q: How long do I have to report a hit and run in California?
A: You have 24 hours to report a hit and run in California. If you don’t report the accident within this timeframe, you could risk having your insurance claim denied. Insurance companies typically require that you report an accident as soon as possible so they can begin their investigation, and they may try to claim that any injuries or damage that you are trying to claim happened after the accident.
Q: How do I report a car accident in California if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
A: You can file an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance company. To do this, you will need to prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident and that they did not have insurance. You will also need to show that you suffered damages as a result of the accident, such as property damage, medical bills, or lost wages.
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, whether it’s a minor fender bender or a major collision, it’s important to consult with an experienced car accident attorney.
At Kreeger Law Firm, our team of experienced car accident lawyers has helped countless clients get the compensation they deserve. We can help you navigate the complex legal process that the average person is not familiar with and can fight for the maximum compensation you deserve. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may be facing a long road to recovery, and you shouldn’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay your medical bills or make ends meet. Our experienced car accident attorneys will fight for you so that you can focus on what’s important — your recovery. Contact us today.