police gathering evidence after California car accidentIf you were in a collision, you might agree with the negligent driver’s suggestion not to contact the police. You might not think you were hurt or that your car suffered only minor damage. Can you still file a claim with the motorist’s insurance company if you do not have a police report

Yes, but you may have a harder time obtaining the compensation you deserve for your injuries under California law. It is essential to retain an experienced San Diego car accident lawyer to negotiate your settlement with the insurance company.

Are You Barred From Filing a Claim With the Insurance Company if You Do Not Have a Police Report?

It is not uncommon to not realize you were hurt or think your injuries were minor right after a crash, only to discover later that your injuries are serious. While you still have a right to file a claim for your injuries if you do not have a police report, you should expect difficulty reaching a settlement with the insurance company. 

Common arguments an insurer might make to deny your claim or try to pay you less than you are entitled to include:

  • The car accident never occurred.
  • You were wholly or partially negligent in causing the crash.
  • Another incident caused your injuries.
  • Your injuries are not as severe as you claim, or you would have called the police.

Other Evidence You Can Use to Prove Your Case

You must prove that the other driver’s negligence caused your car accident to obtain the compensation you deserve. A police report can provide valuable information, such as details about how the crash happened, other motorists’ statements, and the police officer’s conclusion about who was at fault. 

Your claim is not ruined if you do not have a police report. You can collect other evidence to establish how your collision occurred. Even if you have a police report, you would need this evidence. Here are the types of evidence you should obtain:

Passenger Statements

If passengers were in your vehicle, they could provide a statement of how the other driver caused the collision. Remember that they may be considered biased witnesses, especially if they are also filing injury claims.

Eyewitness Statements

Eyewitness statements can be extremely valuable if the witness does not know you and has no stake in the outcome of your case. You need to contact them soon after the collision while the details of how it occurred are fresh in their minds.


Photographs of the damage to the motor vehicles involved in the collision, the crash scene, and your injuries can be compelling evidence to show to the insurance adjuster and jury. In addition, they could help a knowledgeable car accident attorney prove the other driver’s negligence.

Surveillance or Traffic Camera Footage

A local business’s surveillance or traffic camera may have recorded your collision. It is crucial to obtain the footage immediately before it is recorded over.

Black Box Data

The negligent driver’s black box data is another type of evidence you need to recover quickly before losing it. It can provide helpful information, such as the speed of their vehicle and whether they applied the brakes.

Accident Reconstruction Expert

You may need to hire an accident reconstructionist if you do not have a police report. These expert witnesses review all the evidence, visit the crash scene, and give an opinion about the cause of your crash. They may also create a computer-generated reenactment showing how it happened. 

You Have a Duty to Report a Car Accident in California

Under California law, you must report a car accident that caused injuries or death within 24 hours of the collision. The report must be submitted to the Department of California Highway Patrol (CHP) or the police department in the city where the wreck occurred. The insurance company could try to turn your failure to report the crash against you, claiming you weren't actually hurt or were partially liable for the accident.

Mark Blane
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San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer | California Car Accident Attorney
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