How Long After a Car Accident Can You File a Police Report?

After a car accident, do you know exactly what you’re supposed to do next? Amid the chaos of exchanging information, calling insurance companies, and seeing the doctor, it can be easy to forget and lose track of what you’re legally required to do. When it comes to police reports, there tends to be a lot of confusion about whether it’s necessary to report the accident and have one filled out or not.

Our trusted car accident lawyers in New York and California explain everything you need to know when it comes to filing a police report for your car accident.

  • Contact The Barnes Firm

    Fields marked with an * are required

When Do I Have to File a Police Report After a Car Accident?

After being in a car accident in New York, you must file a police report about the accident within ten days. Each party involved must file a police report and submit it to the DMV. The only time when a police report isn’t required is if the property damage amounts to less than $1,000. If the property damage is less than $1,000 and there are no injuries, then all you need to do is exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. That information is essential if you need to file a claim following the accident. Be sure that the information you collect is written in a safe spot so it can’t get lost.

In California, you have 24 hours to report an accident to the California Highway Patrol or your local police department. If an officer was present at the scene of the accident, they will file the report. After this, you have 10 days to report the accident to the DMV. You need to report the accident if another person was injured or killed or if the property damage is greater than $1,000.

If you hit a parked vehicle, then you must locate the owner to exchange information. Sometimes, this isn’t possible when the owner of the car is nowhere in sight. If you can’t find the owner, call the police to file a report. When the owner discovers the collision and calls the police later, you won’t have to worry about a possible hit-and-run charge because you already reported the damage to the police.

It’s not always easy to determine the level of property damage and whether it totals $1,000 or not. If you’re not sure, it’s still best to play it safe and file the police report anyway. While some might not want to go through the trouble of calling the police and seeing the DMV, having this report can help tremendously.

african american police officer leaning back on car and looking away

How Do I File a Police Report After My Accident?

Once you’re safe and away from the scene of the accident, call the local police. The information that you provide is what goes into the accident report. Once you’re notified that the report is ready, you’ll have to submit it to the DMV within ten days of the accident. The local police station will be able to provide you information on how to retrieve the report. If you learn that the other driver involved in the accident has already filed a police report, you’ll still need to have one filed for yourself.

If you sustained severe injuries that leave you unable to file a police report, a passenger who was with you during the accident can file the report instead. If you didn’t have a passenger with you and you’re incapacitated, then someone close to you – like a friend or family member – can file the police report on your behalf. Keep in mind that the owner of the vehicle is ultimately the one responsible for filing a police report.

Trusted Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help

The experience of a car crash can be traumatic. Car accident victims might be inclined to skip the report altogether, but there can be legal ramifications for doing so. Failure to file a written police report with the DMV can result in fines, jail time, and criminal charges. While filing a report can be inconvenient, it’s better than the other legal consequences.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact an experienced car accident attorney at The Barnes Firm today. From the first phone conversation through to the final settlement, the team of attorneys at The Barnes Firm will work hard for you every step of the way.  

The Barnes Firm (800) 800-0000