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Do I Have to File a Police Report for a Car Accident in California?

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With nearly 39 million people in California, there is no doubt that you are bound to be in a car accident at some point living or visiting the golden state. Many assume that if they are involved in a minor auto collision that they are not required to file a police report and only quickly exchange information before rushing off.

While in the moment, you may want to move along with your day or have pressing matters at hand to tend to instead. The adrenaline and stress of the accident may cause you to say everything is okay, but then later find yourself feeling symptoms of an injury from the accident. When you fail to file a police report, you lack the important information needed to file an insurance claim that may have a detrimental effect on compensation you deserve.

What to Do After An Accident in California

Reporting an accident is not only going to help in receiving compensation for your injuries, but it is the law in California. A driver of a vehicle involved in an accident that resulted in any injuries or death has 24 hours to report the crash to highway patrol or the police department where the accident happened.

Not only do you need to report your accident to law enforcement, but the DMV also needs a report within 10 days of the accident that caused an injury, death, or property damage that exceeds $1,000.

It is especially important to file a police report in these situations:

  • Multiple injuries
  • Any deaths
  • More than one car was involved
  • Property damages over $1,000

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Even if you do not think you have been injured in the accident, you should receive medical attention as soon as possible. Symptoms of spinal or muscle injuries may not be noticeable until days after the accident has happened. In the same way that a police report will be able to provide evidence that you were not at fault, a medical examination and report will provide the evidence of your injuries.

Document the Scene

You can never have too much information or documentation when it comes to your accident. After ensuring everyone involved in the accident is not injured, and only if it is safe to do so, document the scene by taking pictures of the vehicles involved and the location of the accident. In addition to the photos, gather names and addresses of any witnesses to the accident.

Why Are Police Reports Important

A police report is considered an unbiased report of your accident, making it more valuable than a claim or the at-fault driver’s recollection of the incident. If you decide to file a personal injury claim after the accident, the police report is a necessary document for your insurance company.

A police report offers a neutral viewpoint of what has happened at the accident by providing factors like:

  • The location of the accident
  • Date and time of the accident
  • Damages of vehicles involved and any other property
  • Any injuries to drivers, passengers, or others
  • Statements from both drivers involved
  • Statements and contact information from witnesses of the accident
  • Environmental conditions at the time of the accident

How to File a Police Report in California

Immediately call the police after your car accident. Once they have arrived on the scene, discuss the details of your accident and answer all questions. The responding officer will interview the other driver, as well as any witnesses, then determine how the accident happened. Once they have written a traffic collision report, ask for a copy for your records.

When accidents are not as severe, the police may not respond to the scene if it is a minor accident with no reported injuries. If this is the case, be sure to file an accident report within 24 hours to the police station.

The accident report is evidence that the other driver was present at the scene and was involved in the accident. A police report will be mandatory when you attempt to recover any damages, in case the other driver denies they were in the accident, are uninsured, and if the at-fault driver flees the scene of the accident.

Were You Involved in a Car Accident?

Once you have your police report, make sure to speak to an attorney before agreeing to any insurance company settlements. You may have many more costs for your pain and suffering, medical bills, loss of income, long term treatments, and more.

At Hann Law Firm, we fight for you every step of the way, keeping your best interest in mind and making sure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Contact us today to request a consultation with one of our experienced San Jose personal injury lawyers.

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