How long do you have to report a car accident in California? It is a common question for drivers when police officers don’t respond to a car crash in Los Angeles.
There are deadlines for reporting an accident to the police after the fact. However, laws also require you to report some accidents immediately after the fact. Knowing the difference can avoid penalties and problems with a personal injury claim.
When Do You Have to File a Police Report in California?
California Vehicle Code §20008 requires drivers to report car accidents involving injuries or death within 24 hours of the crash. The report must be filed with the California Highway Patrol or the appropriate police department with jurisdiction over the crash site.
The best way to file an accident report in Los Angeles is to call 911. Calling 911 results in the appropriate law enforcement agency reporting to the scene or advising you what to do. The police officers will investigate the crash and file an accident report if dispatched to the scene.
Calling 911 also means that you and others involved in the accident will receive emergency medical treatment. EMS may respond to the accident to treat victims and transport individuals to the emergency room.
How Long Do You Have to Report an Accident to the DMV in California?
California Vehicle Code §16000 requires you to report car accidents resulting in more than $1,000 in property damage, injuries, or death to the California Department of Motor Vehicles within ten days of the crash. You, your lawyer, or your insurance provider can file the accident report with the DMV. You must use Form SR-1 to report a car accident, which is available on the DMV website.
What Happens if You Don’t Report an Accident in California?
Failing to report a car accident could result in losing your driving privileges under California Vehicle Code §16004. The suspension remains in effect until you file the accident report or the DMV receives evidence of financial responsibility.
Depending on the circumstances, you could also face fines and jail time for failing to report a car accident in Los Angeles.
How Do You Obtain a Copy of the Traffic Collision Report?
In Los Angeles, you can request a copy of the Traffic Collision Report (TCR) from the LAPD’s website.
However, there are a few things you should know:
- TCRs cannot be released online if they involve an arrest, juvenile, or fatality
- You must request TCRs issued before February 1, 2016 through the mail
- Allow at least 45 days from the crash date to request the report
- Only specific people can access TCRs according to California law
If you hire a Los Angeles car accident lawyer, your attorney can request a copy of the car accident report. The information on an accident report may not be considered evidence at a trial. However, it can provide your lawyer information to investigate the crash and gather evidence to prove causation, fault, and liability.
What Steps Should You Take After a Car Accident in Los Angeles?
In addition to filing a car accident report, there are other steps you should take to protect your legal rights after a car crash. Steps to take include:
Document the Accident Scene
The evidence you gather at the accident scene could help prove fault. If it is safe to do so, take photographs of the accident scene. Also, make a video of the crash site.
Eyewitness testimony can also be valuable evidence in a car accident case. Ask eyewitnesses for their names and contact information.
Seek Medical Assistance
Delays in medical care after a car accident can cause problems with your insurance claim. The insurance company may claim that you failed to mitigate damages or that the crash did not cause your injuries. You need medical records proving that the car accident caused you to sustain injuries.
Notify Your Car Insurance Provider
Notify your car insurance company of the car accident as soon as possible. You could have insurance coverage that applies to the car accident. Also, most car insurance policies have terms and conditions that require policyholders to provide prompt notification of accidents.
Avoid Talking to Insurance Adjusters
Talking to an insurance adjuster before seeking legal advice could hurt your case. Insurance adjusters work to lower the value of your claim. Their job is to protect the insurance company’s best interests.
The best way to handle insurance adjusters is to refer them to your personal injury lawyer.
Document Your Damages
Take photographs of your injuries and keep copies of all bills, receipts, and invoices. If another driver caused the accident, you could receive compensation for economic damages. These damages could include medical bills, lost wages, and other financial losses and expenses.
Your claim’s value depends on the case’s circumstances and facts. However, having sound legal advice early in the case could improve your chance of receiving a fair settlement for your claim.
A California Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You After a Car Accident
After seeking medical attention, the best thing you can do after a collision is to contact a car accident attorney for help. A lawyer will ensure that you receive the compensation you’re entitled to and protect your legal rights.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA
If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our Los Angeles car accident lawyers at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.