Car accidents can turn your life around. When you are involved in a car crash, you may suffer from mild to severe bodily injuries or even wrongful death. The accident may also hit your financial capacity as you must pay for property damages and related expenses.
This is why it is essential to file a car accident report immediately. This will help you build your case and receive compensation for the damages.
The steps below will help you file a car accident report if you need to.
How Do I File A Car Accident Police Report?
A car accident report is an important part of a lawsuit because it helps record important information about the accident. To file a car accident report, you should:
Step 1: Call the police after the accident
After the car crash, you must call 911 immediately and wait for the police to respond and examine the scene. They will help you gather substantial evidence from the accident scene. If you want to pursue a car accident claim, you may use the police report as evidence.
Step 2: Gather the necessary pieces of evidence
While waiting for law enforcement, you may document necessary evidence such as another driver’s personal information, witness testimony, or photos of the scene.
Step 3: Share your side of the story
It is best that you comply with your legal obligations by sharing your side of the story. Cooperating with the investigation on the scene will shed light on who is liable for the accident.
Step 4: Request a copy of the report
Usually, police officers provide a copy of the police report to both parties after filing it. However, in case you lose your document, you may request the file by presenting the following:
- accident identification number
- accident date
- accident time
- location of the accident
- Name of the driver or vehicle owner involved
In most cities in California, you must pay a $10 fee to retrieve a document up to 25 pages in length. You may also request a copy through the mail.
You will need the necessary details, such as:
- Your driver’s license or identification (DL/ID) card
- Your vehicle’s license plate number or vehicle identification number (VIN)
- Your insurance information
- Other party’s vehicle and insurance information, if applicable
Do I Have to File a Police Report for a Car Accident in California?
Yes, you must file a police report for a car accident under these circumstances:
- The accident caused minor to serious car crash injuries to any individual involved.
- The incident resulted in vehicle or property damages worth one thousand dollars ($1,000) or more.
- There was a wrongful death due to the crash.
- If any of the drivers involved in the accident do not have a license.
- If the party at fault flees the scene.
- If any driver is traveling under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
You may not file a car accident report when a car crash results in minor damages and is not covered by the scenarios above. However, it is suggested that you still do so to protect your rights and in case you encounter an accident claim.
How Long After a Car Accident Can You File a Police Report in California?
If the accident results in wrongful death or bodily injuries, you are expected to make a report to the authorities within twenty-four hours (24). Failure to do so might lead to penalties, such as:
- suspension of driving privileges until the report is done;
- up to one year in jail (for minor car crash injuries);
- fine from $1,000up to $10,000 for minor and severe injury cases or wrongful death; or
- two to four years in prison for accidents causing severe injuries or wrongful death.
It is also important to note that filing a report to the DMV should be done 10 days after the car crash if there are property damages, car crash injuries, or wrongful death caused by accident. You, your insurance company, or a legal representative must complete and submit an accident report (SR-1) within the said time frame.
What are the Complexities of a Car Accident Claim?
A car accident claim is sometimes challenging. There are certain complexities in a car accident claim that may hinder you from getting the total value of the damage compensation, such as:
- Drivers fleeing the scene after the accident
- Uninsured drivers
- A car accident involving several vehicles
- Difficulty in determining the party liable for the accident
- Lack of evidence
- Insurance companies bargaining a reduced compensation
If you encounter these situations, a lawyer for car accident claims can help you sort out your case. They can help you with the following:
- Gathering relevant evidence
- Calculating the damages from the accident
- Communicating with authorities
- Keeping up with deadlines
- Negotiating the total value of your claim.
Give us a call today at 888-960-0480 for a free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help you.