After you’re involved in a car accident in Los Angeles, you must take several steps. If you skip any of these steps, you could face potential criminal charges for a hit and run or failing to report an accident.
When your car accident involves injuries or deaths, you must report the accident to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The LAPD will investigate the accident and produce a traffic collision report (TCR) summarizing all of the facts surrounding the accident and listing traffic citations or criminal charges flowing from your accident.
Here is how you can get a copy of your LAPD traffic collision report and how you can use it in your personal injury case.
Reporting Accidents in California
You must report some traffic accidents that cause property damage and all accidents that involve an injury or death. The circumstances of when and how you report will depend on the situation.
Property Damage Only
If an accident only causes property damage and no one suffers any injuries, you do not need to report the accident to the police. You will only need to exchange insurance information with the others involved in the accident.
The one exception is when you hit an unoccupied vehicle. If you hit a parked car and cannot identify the driver, you must leave a note and contact the local police department.
If an accident causes a death, you must immediately report the accident to the LAPD. The LAPD will investigate the accident to determine whether to pursue any criminal charges.
California law requires you to file a written report with the LAPD within 24 hours after an accident that results in at least one injury. Generally, if anyone is injured in an accident, you should immediately report the accident to the LAPD or California Highway Patrol.
At the same time, the LAPD has the discretion to decide what to do when it receives your call.
Due to staffing issues and the significant number of traffic accidents in L.A., the LAPD does not dispatch officers to traffic accidents unless the accident involves:
- Injuries severe enough to require an ambulance
- Intoxicated driving
- Damage to city property
The LAPD might not respond to accidents involving injuries too minor to require an ambulance, unless they were caused during a DUI or hit-and-run accident. In these cases, the LAPD will not produce a TCR, and you will only receive the drivers’ self-reports.
How to Get a Copy of an LAPD TCR
If the LAPD responded to your accident, it probably produced a TCR. You can get a copy of your TCR online through LAPD’s website. You can also obtain a copy of the TCR through the mail.
The LAPD cannot release TCRs online for accidents that involve an arrest, a juvenile, or a fatality. You must receive these TCRs through the mail.
California law limits who can access TCRs to those who fall within the following categories:
- Drivers in the accident and their parents or guardians
- Authorized representatives of those involved, including attorneys and insurers
- Vehicle owners
- Anyone who might get sued for the accident
To get your TCR, you must affirm under penalty of perjury that you fall into one of these categories.
How Do You Use an LAPD Traffic Collision Report?
The TCR will include the facts uncovered during the accident investigation, including:
- Date, time, and location of the accident
- Names and addresses of persons involved or injured in the accident
- Contact information for witnesses to the accident
- Diagrams of the accident
- Statements of the drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and witnesses
This information provides you with the evidence you need to prove who bears liability for the accident. This, in turn, will tell you who you can pursue for injury compensation.
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.