How Long Do You Have to Report an Accident in California?

by Staff | February 8th, 2021

According to the California Department of Insurance, you’re required to report a traffic accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days of the crash IF there’s an injury or if damage to the vehicle(s) involved is greater than $750.

If you don’t report the crash to the DMV, your license might be suspended. You may also face other difficulties if you delay reporting the crash to the authorities. That includes difficulty getting much-needed compensation from insurance companies for your vehicle repairs and medical expenses.

Insurance companies could use your delay as evidence that your injuries aren’t serious. And the longer you wait to report the crash, the longer you must wait for the compensation you’re owed.

Instead of waiting to report a crash, it’s best to do so immediately. Let’s look at the other steps you should consider after a car accident in California.

The Steps You Take After a Crash Are Crucial

What you do (and don’t do) after a crash can have serious legal, health-related, and insurance-related consequences. If you’re ever involved in a crash, following these tips can help ensure you don’t face unnecessary complications.

Call the Police Right Away

Though you technically have 10 days to report a crash, it’s best practice to notify the authorities of a crash as soon as it occurs. Having a police officer arrive at the scene of the crash to fill out a report while the vehicles are still on the scene makes a big difference when it comes to getting the payment you’ll need from insurance companies.

While You Wait, Say as Little as Possible

While you wait for the police, be careful of what you say to others. Even if you simply apologize or make any other innocent statement out of politeness, your words could be used against you. There’s no need to be rude, but it’s in your best interest to be matter-of-fact when you speak to others.

Be Careful Dealing With the Police and Insurers

When the police arrive, answer all their questions truthfully and do not offer opinions or speculation. They’ll write up a police report, which you’ll need to file an insurance claim. You can also notify your insurer of the crash. However, you are under no obligation to speak to the other driver’s insurance company. If they contact you, it’s in your best interest NOT to speak to them.

If you’re injured or if you have even the slightest suspicion you’ve been injured, seek medical attention as soon as possible. It’s likely you won’t notice the extent of your injuries immediately after a crash, so err on the side of caution and visit your doctor. Keep copies of all bills, correspondence with insurers or healthcare providers, and any other documents you receive related to the crash.

Protect Your Interests by Speaking With a Lawyer

Consider speaking to an attorney as soon as possible after the accident, especially if you’ve been injured. The other driver’s insurance company might offer you a quick settlement before your medical treatments or diagnoses are complete. These offers are typically far less than you’ll need to cover your crash-related costs, and a lawyer can help you get the compensation you truly deserve.

When You Need Help, Get Berg

The California car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers have years of experience getting injured motorists the compensation they’re entitled to by law. When you need legal help after a crash, we can deal with the insurance companies while you focus on your recovery.

Contact our team today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review. We don’t get paid unless we win you money.