Yes. If you're involved in a car accident, you have specific duties to report the crash under California law. In addition, notifying law enforcement about the collision is important if the other driver caused it, and you must file a claim with their insurance company.

Your Duty to Notify the Police of an Auto Crash

reporting car accident in CA​By law, you have a responsibility to submit a written report of a car accident resulting in injuries or death to the California Highway Patrol or to the police department in the city where the crash happened. You must do this within 24 hours of the collision.

If you call the police immediately, they will come to the accident scene if it involves injury, death, or is a hit-and-run. They'll conduct an investigation and write a police report. In this instance, you won't need to file your own written report. 

When You Must Report a Crash to the California DMV

Unlike other states, you would also have a duty to report most car accidents to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You are required to notify the DMV within 10 days of the collision in these situations:

  • Anyone involved in the accident suffered any injuries, even if they were minor.
  • Someone was killed in the crash.
  • The collision caused property damage to a vehicle or other personal property of more than $1,000.

Why You Should Always Call the Police at the Scene of Your Collision

Even if you don't believe that you were injured or that your vehicle suffered much damage, you should call the police at the accident scene. You could have suffered serious injuries but not realize it yet. The symptoms of some medical conditions—such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord and back injuries, and internal organ damage—may not develop until days or longer after the crash. In addition, the damage to your property could cost more to repair than you might think.

Protect your legal rights and strengthen your claim against at-fault driver by calling the police right away and obtaining a copy of the police report. It contains essential information for your claim, such as:

  • Contact information for all drivers, their insurance companies, and witnesses to the crash
  • Details of how the accident happened
  • Statements of drivers and witnesses
  • Police officer’s conclusions as to who caused the crash
  • Any traffic tickets issued

Were you or a family member injured in a car accident in San Diego or Southern California? You need an experienced car accident attorney who knows how to stand up for your rights to secure all the compensation you deserve. To learn what my legal team and I can do for you, start a live chat to schedule a free case evaluation today.


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