Information on California’s Traffic Crash Reports
David Muñoz | March 21, 2022 | Car Accidents
For the most part, California law enforcement agencies do not investigate car accidents that result only in property damage. The state of California does not require you to report this type of accident to the DMV or the California Highway Patrol (CHP), unless:
- You hit unattended property and cannot locate the owner
- The damage exceeds $1,000
Even with these limited reporting requirements, California still processes tens of thousands of traffic crash reports every year. Vehicle drivers must report all accidents involving injury or death. Law enforcement agencies will also investigate these accidents and produce a report.
Driver Traffic Accident Reports
Vehicle drivers must report certain accidents to the DMV. You can file your report online at the DMV’s website or by filling out a paper form and mailing it to the DMV.
The accidents you must report to the DMV include accidents that cause:
- Property damage over $1,000
- Property damage of any amount if you cannot locate the property owner
Bear in mind that the monetary threshold for property damage accidents includes public property like light posts and traffic signs.
The driver traffic accident report only covers one and a half pages. This report lists the contact information, vehicle, and insurance for each driver. It also lists the name and address of each person injured or killed in the accident.
In the report, you will describe any property damaged in the accident and the value of that damage.
You or your lawyer can get a copy of the other driver’s accident report by requesting it from the DMV.
Police Traffic Accident Reports
You must call the police within 24 hours to report any accident involving death or injury. Most people call the police from the accident scene to report accidents that kill or injure someone.
When the police respond to the accident scene, the officers will investigate the accident. Some steps the police may undertake during the investigation include:
- Taking photos of the accident scene
- Interviewing drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists involved
- Talking to bystanders
- Administering field tests or breathalyzer tests if drug or alcohol use is suspected
The officers will record the results of the investigation in a police accident report. This report differs from the driver accident report.
The CHP-555 form used by police includes fields for the officers to identify contributing causes to the accident, such as traffic, road, and lighting conditions. It also allows the officers to list any witnesses and describe all citations issued.
But the most important part of the accident report is the narrative that describes what happened. This description comes from an investigation at the accident scene, as well as witness statements. As a result, it provides a powerful record of the events that led up to the crash.
You can get a copy of your police accident report from the law enforcement agency that investigated your accident. Under California law, only people involved in the accident, along with their lawyers, insurers, and vehicle owners can access these reports.
Using the Traffic Crash Reports
Traffic crash reports serve a few purposes. You and your lawyer can use the information in the crash report to file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver.
You will also use them to prove fault and causation in your case. Traffic crash reports are just one type of evidence you will use in your case. They can verify your account of what happened or refute the other driver’s explanation. Knowing whether the other driver received a citation can also help you to establish that driver’s fault for the accident.
Contact Our Motor Vehicle Accident Law Firm in San Diego Today To Get More Information
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2515 Camino del Rio S Suite 350, San Diego, CA 92108
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