If you're involved in a traffic accident in California, you have a legal duty to adhere to in terms of letting the authorities know what happened. There are options for receiving compensation from the at-fault driver and laws in place to help you accomplish that goal.
What does California law say about reporting a car accident?
After you're in a car accident, you or a representative needs to file a report to the police or to the California Highway Patrol within 24 hours of when the accident happened. If anyone sustained injuries — including pedestrians, people riding bikes or motorcycles, drivers, passengers, etc. — the police must be notified. (See California Vehicle Code Section 20008 for more information.) However, if the police arrive at the scene of the accident, they'll write a report and, in that case, there is no need to notify them or to write your own report.
Should I report the accident to the DMV and my insurance company, too?
Yes, the DMV should be notified within 10 days of when the accident happened, but only if:
- someone was injured, even if the injuries were minimal,
- someone died as a result of the accident, and/or
- the accident resulted in property damage estimated to cost over $750.