An overwhelming 5.4 million individuals suffered injuries requiring medical attention as a result of car accidents in 2021. Experts estimate the total financial costs of these injuries reached around $498.3 billion.

If you’ve recently experienced an accident of your own that led to injuries, then it’s important for you to carefully consider the extent of your losses. Your medical expenses may only be one part of your overall financial loss.

Your first step in preserving your rights to compensation after a crash involves filing a California accident report to the DMV. This accident report will be invaluable evidence if you decide to file a claim later.

When to Report an Accident

One of the most commonly asked questions after a traffic accident is — do I need to report an accident to the DMV? It’s important to know the answer to that question because there are legal consequences for failing to report an accident. Under California law, you must file a car accident when the incident results in a fatality, injury, or property damage that exceeds $1,000. It’s also a crime to leave the scene of an accident that causes injuries without first securing medical attention for the injured person.

Filing a police report isn’t always necessary, though. If the incident is minor and leads to very minimal property damage, then it’s not a requirement to file a report. You’ll want to use your best judgment to determine whether to report a minor crash. In general, you’ll always want to report any accident that could potentially lead to a future claim.

Required Documentation

You will need a few important documents before filing a police report. For one, you need your official driver’s license or a government-issued ID card. You should also have your vehicle’s license plate number or vehicle identification number. Obtain your insurance information to provide in the report, too. If it’s possible, then you’ll also want to obtain the other party’s information including their license plate number and insurance information.

Step-by-Step Reporting Process

When you get involved in a serious collision, then you should always stop. Check everyone for injuries. If any injuries are present, then you should immediately call either 911 or the California Highway Patrol (CHP) out to the scene of the accident.

Once the police arrive, they’ll begin creating an official police report, which will be considered substantial evidence if you file a claim later. While the authorities are creating their report, you should get the medical treatment you need.

Despite having this police report, you still need to file an official report to the California DMV within 10 days of the incident if you’re injured. This official DMV traffic accident report in California can be filed by you, your insurance agent, or a legal advocate.

1. Gather the Right Information and Forms

First, you’ll need to obtain the SR-1 Accident Reporting Form. You can either print a copy of the form directly from the DMV website or utilize the DMV’s official website to submit the information and forms digitally.

There are a few California DMV accident reporting requirements to be aware of. For one, if you want to submit the information digitally, then you’ll need a valid e-mail address. Once you submit your name and e-mail address, the DMV will e-mail you a link that will direct you to the website where you can enter your information.

If you’d prefer to get your form in person, then you can visit your local DMV field office or CHP office.

accident report forn

2. Attach Supporting Documents

Next, you will need to attach supporting documents to complete your report. According to the form, if the proper attachments aren’t included in your SR-1 report, then it will be considered VOID. You must include:

  • A copy of your insurance card or coverage that was in effect on the day of the crash.
  • Repair estimates if there was property damage exceeding $750.
  • A doctor’s statement of injury.

If you need additional help securing these documents, then consult with an attorney for more guidance.

3. Review for Accuracy

Next, you need to complete the various portions of the form. Sign the bottom of the form and include the proper date. After completing everything, go back and re-read the entire form to review it for accuracy.

4. Submit the Form

Once you’ve completed everything and double-checked the form for accuracy, you can submit the form. You can submit your form in person or online. 

5. Keep a Copy

It’s usually best to keep a copy for your own records.

5. Follow Up

Once you’ve completed the process, it’s prudent to follow up with the DMV in a few days to ensure that your form was processed and submitted. California law requires anyone who is involved in a major accident to file an SR-1 form, and you want to make sure that you’re remaining compliant.

Deadlines for Reporting

There is a statute of limitations for reporting a car accident. You only have 10 days from the date of the crash to complete an SR-1 report. If you get involved in a crash and do not complete an SR-1 report, then you could have your driving privileges suspended. Your privileges will also be suspended if you don’t have the right insurance at the time of the crash.

Tips for a Smooth Reporting Process

Ensuring the reporting process goes smoothly is an important part of upholding your legal rights. Not only does an untimely report put your driving privileges at risk, but it could also put your legal rights to compensation at risk, too. If you need help with the process, then it might be best to consult with an attorney who can help.

What Happens After You Report an Accident

Since there are significant penalties for not reporting an accident, it’s always in your best interest to file an SR-1 report when you’ve been involved in a crash. After you report it, insurance claims will proceed. You’ll want to get informed regarding your insurance policy terms to find out more about your options for recovery. If you think someone else caused your crash, you’ll need to gather additional evidence to prove who caused the accident and the extent of your losses.

Once you have these details covered, you can start compiling your official claim. The legal process of filing for compensation can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be when you hire the right legal advocate to fight for you.

Here at Kermani LLP, our lawyers have extensive experience representing clients who’ve been harmed by someone else’s negligence in a traffic accident. Our firm was established in 2011. Since then, we’ve litigated over 100 trials and handled over 2,500 successful claims for our clients. If you’re ready to see what we can do for you in your situation, then we’re ready to hear from you.

Schedule a call with our attorneys now to discuss your crash in more detail with our lawyers.

March 21, 2024

Ray Kermani
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