Should I Call the Police After a Car Accident and What Should I Report

Throughout their lifetime, the average American will be involved in between three and four traffic accidents. Most of these crashes will be relatively small collisions or fender benders rather than serious ones. Others will be more severe, including significant auto damage as well as possible fatalities or major injuries to the driver or other occupants.[1]

Calling the police is one of the best things you can do after any kind of motor vehicle accident. In nearly all circumstances, this advice is applicable. Sometimes the collision is so small that neither driver chooses to report it, or the police determine they don’t need to come to the scene. You ought to constantly file a report, though, even if the police are not called. There are numerous benefits to filing a report, some of which we shall go over below.[2]

California’s Vehicle Accident Laws. Reportable and nonreportable auto accidents are the two categories of auto accidents in California.

Car Accident Attorney: Vehicle Accidents Subject to Reporting Requirements

under California, drivers are obligated to report an accident to the police under the following scenarios:

  • When an individual is hurt in an automobile accident.
  • If a car needs to be hauled from the scene because it is immobile.
  • If there has been hit-and-run. It is your responsibility and the responsibility of the other vehicles or drivers to report these collisions right away.[3]

Car Accidents which Reporting is not Mandatory

Police are not required by law to report minor auto accidents in California. These are the kinds of collisions where nobody gets hurt, and the vehicles can drive away on their own. One of the best things you can do, no matter what kind of accident you’ve been in, is to call the police. After that, the officer will compile a report that you may submit with your insurance claim or have your car accident lawyer use to pursue it on your behalf.

In many cases, the police will visit the accident scene and make a report if they have the time and there is an officer nearby. Even though they can decline your request, it seldom hurts to inquire.

The law enforcement agencies are also not required to report an accident that occurs on private property. Places like your driveway or a shopping centre parking lot are examples of private property. Reporting accidents only occur on city or country roads and highways, according to the police.[4]

In any event, you ought to report the collision to the authorities. Below, we’ll walk you through the process.

What Gains Result from the Police Visiting the Scene of the Accident?

In case you have ever been injured in a car accident, you are aware of the disarray that can occur between your emotions and thinking. Excessive excitement, fear, or rage can strike drivers. The fact that an officer is an unbiased third party when they arrive on the scene is one of the finest reasons to call the police. In addition to being able to identify any serious problems, such as possible injuries, a police officer will also be able to calm down everyone involved.

Immediately law enforcement officials arrive at the site of an accident, they will:

  • If the drivers haven’t already done so, they will ask for emergency medical attention for anyone who may be hurt.
  • Guard the area to ensure the safety of onlookers and individuals involved in the collision.
  • Ask the two drivers what they believe happened in the collision.
  • Make notes regarding the location of the accident, the weather, skid marks, and any other information that would be important for their accident report.
  • Speak with any witnesses or pertinent third parties who may have seen the accident.
  • If necessary, issue tickets for infractions. Most importantly, the officer will prepare a report that you can use when you file an insurance claim or that your attorney can use for information if there needs to be a court trial.

A crash voucher is often given to you by the police officer once they have recorded all the information and secured the scene. The crash receipt is a crucial document that provides you with a case number for the report the officer will submit. It also typically contains the officer’s name and the name of the police department they are employed by. If you have trouble reading the officer’s signature on the collision receipt, you can also ask for a card with their contact details on it.[5]

Fifteen days following the event, you can apply online for a copy of the police report on a motor vehicle accident. The cost for each report is 23 dollars. Additionally, you can mail your request together with an officially stamped check or money order covering the cost.

If the police don’t show up, do I still have to file a crash report?

You are not obligated to report a crash if the police do not arrive at the scene. You and the other motorist may choose that it is simpler and less expensive to divide up any damages amongst yourselves if the collision is sufficiently mild. However, you are legally compelled to submit a report to the police if you are in a significant accident and the police are unable to get to the scene due to emergencies, natural disasters, or a larger accident in another location.

However, even if you are not compelled to report a small accident to the police, it is nonetheless crucial to do so for several reasons:

  • Even slight wounds from auto accidents frequently take days or even weeks to show symptoms. Making an insurance claim to pay for any medical expenditures is difficult if you haven’t reported the crash to the police.
  • The same holds for auto-related damages. Although your car can initially seem to have suffered little to no damage, it’s quite likely that a component that is hidden from view will malfunction or develop problems in the days after the collision.
  • Even if you and the other drivers involved in a minor auto accident could determine to “settle this among yourselves,” folks can have second thoughts after leaving the scene. You may be required to cover undeserved losses or medical expenses. The accident here becomes your word against theirs.

Completing a crash report in conjunction with the police report facilitates the filing of insurance claims. A lot of insurance companies demand that you disclose an accident as quickly as possible; otherwise, they won’t cover any future damages. In most instances, your insurer may not be amenable to settling your claims should you fail to report to the police, even though you and the other driver may believe it is easier to cover the costs on your own if you do have a medical emergency or your car has damage that was not apparent right after the accident. The police record can subsequently be used by your lawyer to bargain with your insurance provider for benefits, medical expenses, or lost income.[6]

How can I file an Accident Report if the Police do not visit the Scene of the Accident?

If you want to write an accident report about the incident even though the police don’t think you should, you must collect the following specific information at the scene:

  • Every driver involved in the collision, including their names, residences, and phone numbers.
  • The numbers on their driver’s license.
  • Details about their insurance.
  • The identities and phone numbers of any other passengers or pedestrians involved in the collision.
  • The identities and phone numbers of any possible witnesses.
  • The other car’s license plate numbers are involved.
  • The other automobiles’ make, model, and styling.

In addition to all this useful information, you should also:

Take photos of your vehicle and the vehicles of other drivers, indicating any potential damage, skid marks on the road, or any other evidence of the weather, road conditions, location, and any local landmarks on street signs.

  • Record your version of events while they are still fresh in your mind.


Q: How much time do I have to submit a claim?

A: After the accident, you have two years to make a claim. Family members have two years from the date of the accident to launch a case if the victim of a serious auto accident passes away weeks or even months later and the accident was the main cause of death.

Q: Will filing a Car Accident Report help me in my Insurance Claims?

A: Indeed. A crash report is helpful for insurance claims, regardless of whether the police filed a report or you filed a form AA-600 on your own.

One state that offers “choice” no-fault insurance is California. You have a choice between limited tort and full tort when buying auto insurance. You cannot decide to change your mind after an accident has happened; you must make this decision when you buy your insurance. The less expensive options of limited tort or no-fault coverage mean that your own auto insurance company—rather than the insurance of the other driver—will cover any damages to your vehicle, your medical costs, and any lost income.[7]

You are not, however, permitted to file a pain and suffering lawsuit under the limited tort no-fault alternative. Most experts advise going with the full tort option, which is more costly but may offer greater compensation if you are ever involved in a significant accident.

Another crucial fact regarding insurance in California is that the state follows a legal framework known as “modified comparative fault.” A jury or a judge will have to determine two things if the case proceeds to trial: the plaintiff’s financial amount of damages and each party’s portion of the accident’s blame.

Let’s say the judge awards you a $55,000 damage award. If the jury determines that you bear 22% of the blame for the accident, you will only be awarded $42,000. This is because 20% of the $50,000 reward will be subtracted from your total.

In California, no one may seek damages if they bear more than 50% of the blame for an automobile accident.

The police crash report or the crash report you file will be important in this situation. The extent to which each person contributed to the accident will be ascertained from the police report. When discussing benefits for medical care and missed income with your insurance carrier, your attorney may refer to the police report. Police reports can offer important information that your attorney can use to strengthen your case even though they are not accepted as evidence in court. Finding any witnesses to the accident who might be able to testify about what they saw, for example, is made easy.

Q: Is there any impact if I do not File a Police Report?

A: As previously said, you are not required to submit a police report if the accident is small.

However, by filing a crash report, you guard against other drivers who may file a claim against you and inflate their losses or injuries. Additionally, filing a collision report with the police ensures that your policy won’t be cancelled if your insurance provider demands that you file accident reports for any accident.

Q: Must I have an Attorney when filing an Insurance Claim after a Car Accident?

A: It makes sense to hire an experienced vehicle accident lawyer, even though it is not required. You can have catastrophic injuries or your car to sustain significant damage even after a minor collision. Although reporting a collision to the police is a helpful first step, a skilled auto accident lawyer can utilize that report to support your compensation claim.[8]

An expert auto accident lawyer is crucial if you are unhappy with any financial settlement that the insurance company offers you. Furthermore, you should never accept the initial offer because insurance companies have a reputation for sending adjusters to accident scenes in an attempt to persuade drivers to accept a settlement while they are still in a non-compliant state.

Auto insurance adjusters handle collisions daily. It is what they do. They also want to pay you as little as they can because of that employment. An expert auto accident lawyer will be aware of all the traps they could try to play and how to avoid them so you can collect the rewards to which you are legally entitled.

It could be challenging for you to gather the necessary documentation and meet all of the filing dates for your insurance claim if you were in a more serious accident and are still healing from your injuries. A skilled auto accident lawyer can assist in locating and speaking with any witnesses as well as ensure that all claims are submitted on time.

Contact Big Ben Law Attorneys to Help you with your Case

Regardless of how minor the accident was, you could have injuries or your car could sustain damage that was not noticed at the time of the first collision. Big Ben Law Injury Law’s skilled auto accident attorneys can assist you in navigating the auto insurance claim procedure and securing any compensation to which you are lawfully entitled. We are aware of the significance of this to our clients who may depend on their car for essential transit or who have sustained injuries in an automobile accident.

Contact us at the number shown on our website to learn more about how we may assist you, or stop by to arrange a free appointment with an experienced attorney. Provide us with the specifics of your accident and your preferred method of contact, and a member of our staff will respond to you right away.

Big Ben Lawyers
144 N Glendale Ave.
Suite 250
Glendale, CA 91206


1.     National Safety Council, Historical Fatality Trends, available at, accessed on 22nd February, 2024.

2.     NHTSA, Report a Safety Problem, available at, accessed on 21st February 2024.

3.     Chicago Accident Records, Victim Accident Reports, available at, accessed on 22nd February 2024.

4.     The Balance, Filling Accident Report after an Accident, available at, accessed on 22nd February 2024.

5.     US News & World Reports, How does Tort Insurance Work? Full vs Limited, available at,limit%20other%20claims%20as%20well, accessed on 22nd February, 2024.

[1] National Safety Council, Historical Fatality Trends, available at, accessed on 22nd February, 2024.

[2] Ibid.

[3] NHTSA, Report a Safety Problem, available at, accessed on 21st February 2024.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Chicago Accident Records, Victim Accident Reports, available at, accessed on 22nd February 2024.

[6] The Balance, Filling Accident Report after an Accident, available at, accessed on 22nd February 2024.

[7] US News & World Reports, How does Tort Insurance Work? Full vs Limited, available at,limit%20other%20claims%20as%20well, accessed on 22nd February, 2024.

[8] Ibid.


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