Do I have to report my accident to the California DMV?

Written on behalf of Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

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When you are going about your busy day, the last thing you need is to hear that screech of tires and the impact of bumper to metal. Yet even if it turns out the accident is minor, you are still facing the hassle of police reports, insurance claims and reporting to the state DMV. Yet must every accident be reported to the California DMV? When are you free of this obligation?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles says you only have to file a report, Traffic Accident Report SR 1, if damage to the vehicle(s) or property exceeds $1,000, if someone was injured or if someone was killed. Even the smallest injury, such as a scraped elbow or strained neck from whiplash, mandates that you file a report. However, if you are involved in a minor fender-bender with less than $1,000 in damage and no one is in any way hurt or capable of filing a personal injury claim, then it is not necessary to file a report with the DMV.

That does not mean you are free from filing an insurance claim. In fact, you may need the insurance claim to determine if you need to file a report with the DMV. The insurance claim will help you determine the value of the damage. Regardless of who was at fault in the accident, both or all parties involved must file a report if it is determined to be necessary because of injuries, death or the value of damages. The general time period to file a report is within 10 days of the accident.

This post is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for qualified legal counsel.

Jeffrey R. Smith

Jeffrey R. Smith

Managing Partner

Robert B. Waldsmith

Robert J. Waldsmith

Partner, 1999

William B. Smith

William B. Smith

Partner, 1978

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