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Reporting a Car Accident To the DMV in California: Facts And Myths


After a car accident in Riverside or elsewhere across California, reporting the motor vehicle crash may seem like the first thing you should to do. But not everyone thinks that way, and not every car accident is necessarily required to be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Yes, it does sound quite confusing, which is why we have brought our auto accident lawyer Riverside CA from the JML Law to gather all the facts and myths surrounding filing a report with the DMV in California.

Fact: Report in case of fatality, injury, or property damage more than $1,000

It is true that you should file a report with California’s DMV if your car accident involved a death, injury, or property damages exceeding $1,000 (or $750 before January 1, 2017).

Fact: Report within 10 days

If your motor vehicle accident meets the above criteria, you are legally required to report it to the DMV within 10 days from the date of the crash.

Myth: You do not need to report if there is a police report

Our best car accident attorneys in Riverside have seen people in Riverside and all across California make this mistake over and over again: they believe that a police report substitutes a DMV report; and if a police officer files a report regarding your car accident, you are no longer required to report to the DMV.

Do not make this mistake: you do still need to report your car crash to the DMV even if there a police report on it.

Myth: You can still report after 10 days

Nope. California’s car accident laws are pretty strict about this: the failure to report a “reportable car crash” to the DMV within 10 days from the date of the crash may result in loss or suspension of your driver’s license.

Fact: You can go to jail for not reporting

In addition to that, not reporting a car accident that involves a fatality, injury or property damages exceeding $1,000 is punishable by law: you may be fined up to $1,000, charged with a misdemeanor and/or given a jail time of up to six months.

Myth: If injuries are minor, you do not need to report

Our Riverside car accident lawyer from the JML Law says that many people across California wrongfully believe that just because injuries are minor, they are not required to file a claim with the DMV. That is not true. California laws require you to report any car crash to the DMV if it involves injuries, however minor they may seem.

Fact: You need a lawyer to report a car accident to the DMV

In order to file a car accident report with the DMV properly, you will require the legal advice of an attorney, who will complete the Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California (Form SR-1) on your behalf.

Do NOT trust your insurance agent in filing the report, as insurance companies in California have no interest in helping you out in recovering the amount of damages you truly deserve.

Fact: There is a lot to fill out

When filing a car crash report with the DMV, you are highly advised to speak to a Riverside car accident attorney who would help you fill out all of the below:

  1. Location, date, time of the accident
  2. The other driver’s full name, date of birth, address, driver license information, license plate, insurance information (including policy number and expiration date)
  3. The name, address and contact information of all policyholders and all owners of vehicles involved in the crash
  4. A description of fatality, injuries, or property damage (including the names and addresses of those complaining of personal injury after the car accident).

If you are legally represented by one of our experienced lawyers from the JML Law, a Californian law firm that has handled thousands of car crashes throughout the past more than 35 years, filing a report with the DMV will not be a daunting task.

Speak to our attorneys today to get a free consultation. Call our Riverside offices at 818-610-8800 or send us an email.


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Our Los Angeles car accident law firm accepts cases on referral from other lawyers throughout California. To schedule a free initial consultation, call our office at 818-610-8800 or send us an email.

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5855 Topanga Cyn Blvd, #300
Woodland Hills, CA 91367

Phone: 818-610-8800
Fax: 818-610-3030
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Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, CA 91367

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Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 415-692-3462