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Must Drivers Report a California Car Crash?

Posted by Russell S. Kohn, Esq. | Aug 23, 2023 | 0 Comments

A police traffic collision report is not required in California.  In fact, in many crashes, the police will not investigate and prepare a report for many reasons, such as when the police are too busy or when no severe injuries are reported at the scene.  Often the police department will not even send an officer to the crash scene after it is reported and will merely instruct the drivers to exchange their information.  This is regrettable since the lack of a police investigation, which is documented in an official traffic collision report, may result in losing important evidence.  A police report will also support the injured victim's claim and give their lawyer crucial details regarding the facts that establish the other driver's liability.

A driver involved in a California motor vehicle crash may voluntarily prepare a "counter-report" (made at the police department's counter) at the police department having jurisdiction over the crash site.  This is advisable if you think the other driver lacks liability insurance or may later deny the crash occurred.  An injured driver or passenger must file a police report within 30 days of the collision to claim uninsured motorist coverage benefits.

Also, a driver involved in a California motor vehicle crash is required to report the crash to the DMV if it resulted in any of the following:

  • Property damage valued at $1,000 or more
  • A physical injury, no matter how minor
  • Loss of life

The report is a one-page DMV SR-1 form.  If a driver fails to file this report, the DMV may suspend or revoke their driver's license.  The SR-1 form may be completed online via the DMV website, by mail, or in person at the local DMV office.  To fill out the form correctly, a driver needs the following information:  

  • driver's license number
  • vehicle identification number or license plate number
  • auto insurance information
  • The other driver's address, license information, and vehicle license plate number.

Kohn Law Office always files the DMV SR-1 form for their clients. If you would like a free consultation about your legal rights due to an injury call our office today at 760-721-8182.

About the Author

Russell S. Kohn, Esq.

What Makes Attorney Russell S. Kohn Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? As the founder of the Kohn Law Office, Attorney Kohn has limited his practice to representing injured victims in car accidents, wrongful death, and premises liability matters since 1987. Mr. Kohn is a lawyer for people, and...


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