Do Drivers Have to Report Car Accidents in California?

driver on phone after a crashAfter a car accident, California motorists are required to report the collision under certain conditions. Drivers must know what agencies to report to in order to satisfy the state’s requirement.

State Reporting Requirements

Most car accidents in California must be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and to the appropriate law enforcement jurisdiction of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), as explained below.

Reporting to the California DMV

You must notify the California Department of Motor Vehicles of your accident within 10 days using the Traffic Accident Report Form SR 1 if the conditions below apply:

  • Anyone was killed or injured in the accident.
  • The accident resulted in more than $1,000 in property damage.

Failure to report an accident of this type to the DMV may result in suspension of your driving privilege. The report must include the following information:

  • Date of the accident
  • Location of the accident
  • Contact information of the insurance policy holder
  • Insurance company name, policy number and effective dates
  • Make, model and year of your vehicle
  • Whether the damage exceeds $1,000
  • License plate number
  • Vehicle owner’s contact information
  • Name and address of anyone injured or killed in the collision
  • Information regarding property damage, including what object or animal (in collisions involving livestock) was damaged as well as the property owner’s name and address

You must submit a Traffic Accident Report SR1 by mail to:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Financial Responsibility
Mail Station J237
P.O. Box 942884
Sacramento, CA  94284-0884

Reporting Accidents to Your Insurance Company

Your accident should be reported to your insurance company as soon as possible. Even if the accident was not your fault, it should be reported so the insurance company is aware of the incident and can defend your accident claim.

Failing to report a car accident may result in your insurer canceling your policy. Check your car insurance policy to determine what your carrier defines as a reasonable period of time for notification of a collision.

Reporting to Law Enforcement

If a person was injured or killed in a collision, California Vehicle Code section 20008 requires the drivers submit written notice within 24 hours of the accident to the CHP or to the police department that has jurisdiction over the area where the crash occurred. This notice must include all of the involved drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Check for any additional reporting requirements that may apply to the specific area where the accident occurred. There may be local requirements about conditions that must be reported, such as:

  • One of the drivers was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • One of the drivers fled the scene of the accident, creating a hit-and-run situation.
  • Public property was involved.

If a law enforcement officer responds to your accident scene and prepares a written accident report, you will not be required to submit a written report. Make note of the officer’s name and information for your records.

If you submit a written accident report to the incorrect law enforcement agency, it should be forwarded to the correct agency for investigation.

Contact an Experienced Attorney Now

The Sacramento-based car accident lawyers at the Arnold Law Firm are available to assist you after you have been injured in a collision. Our knowledgeable lawyers can help ensure your accident is reported to the correct agencies, and we can help you pursue the compensation that is owed to you for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Request a free, confidential consultation today and learn what options are available. Our attorneys work on contingency, so there are no upfront fees. We are paid only if we help you recover compensation for your injuries.

Call (916) 777-7777 or complete our Free Case Evaluation form now.