Can You File a Police Report Days After an Accident?

by Staff | January 17th, 2022

If you are involved in a car accident in California, it is important to seek medical attention, contact your insurance company, and report the incident to the proper authorities as soon as possible after the collision.

But what happens if you don’t file a police report after your car crash? Learn the legal requirements of reporting car accidents in California and why reporting as soon as possible is the best course of action.

Reporting Requirements

There are several reporting requirements in California regarding the reporting of car accidents. Basic requirements cover minimum and maximum reporting times to the California Department of Motor Vehicles and police or highway patrol.

●     Minimum reporting time

There is no minimum amount of time you need to wait to report an accident. Unless you are seriously injured and unable to contact authorities, your best option is to call the police immediately following your accident.

●     Reporting to police

In California, you must contact the police within 24 hours if your accident resulted in injury or death to anyone involved. Even if there are no obvious personal injuries or casualties, it is important to report the accident to the police within this time frame to protect your rights in case you or the other party experiences personal injury symptoms days after the event.

●     Reporting to the California DMV

The California DMV requires that any accident in which a person is killed or injured or the damage exceeds $1,000 to be reported. To avoid penalties, you must download the SR-1 form from their website and submit it within 10 days of the accident. 

Consequences of Not Reporting an Auto Accident

Failure to report an auto accident to the police and DMV within the required time frame can result in monetary fines, license suspension, and criminal charges. Not reporting can also affect your ability to win compensation for any injuries you suffered in the accident.

Administrative Consequences

When you do not report the accident to the California DMV, you are likely to receive administrative consequences such as fines or the revocation of your driver’s license.

Criminal Charges

If you fail to report your car accident through the right channels, the state may consider it a hit-and-run crash. Hit-and-run accidents that result in property damage are classified as misdemeanors, but hit-and-run accidents in which there is an injury or fatality are felonies in California.

Loss of Compensatory Benefits

Not reporting your accident through the proper channels can also result in your future inability to receive insurance benefits or pursue compensatory damages in a personal injury lawsuit. The longer you wait to report your accident, the harder it is to verify the facts of the accident.

Without reporting the accident, you also run the risk of the other party claiming that you were at fault. They may claim that it was a hit-and-run, which could result in higher penalties for you if you cannot prove what actually happened when the accident occurred.

What Should I Do After a Car Accident?

If you are involved in a car accident, take the following actions to protect your legal rights and avoid incurring penalties for failing to report.

  1. Seek medical attention. Follow your doctor’s treatment plan and keep all records and reports.
  2. Contact the police or California Highway Patrol. Obtain a copy of the incident report.
  3. Contact your insurance company to report the accident.
  4. Seek legal representation from a team of skilled California car accident lawyers to protect your legal rights.
  5. Work with your attorney to collect evidence such as pictures, reports, and testimonies.
  6. Avoid speaking about the accident with others, including on social media platforms. Allow your legal team to communicate with the other party’s insurance company and lawyer.

Schedule a Case Review for Your Vehicle Collision Case

If you are involved in a vehicle collision in California, it is important to take the right steps following the incident to avoid legal penalties and protect your rights.

Following an auto accident, your best course of action is to report the incident to the police and California DMV, seek medical care, contact your insurance company, and obtain legal representation.

To find out your legal options, contact Berg Injury Lawyers. Our experienced team of car accident attorneys will review your case and advise you on your next steps. Call our law firm today to schedule a free initial consultation.