If you get into a car accident, documentation requirements might not be top of mind. Safety, well-being, followed by confronting property damage and financial fall-out would likely be first concerns. But compliance with the law is a not so distant second.
A car accident report must be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of a car accident using the Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California form (Form SR-1) by either you, your insurance agent or your attorney if:
- Someone was killed.
- Someone was injured—the degree of injury is irrelevant.
- There was property damage over $1,000.
Even if the police or the California Highway Patrol files a report on the accident, you have a duty to report. Failure to report may result in the loss of driving privileges.
Furthermore, in the case of property damage only, if you fail to report you may be charged with a misdemeanor hit-and-run.
In the case of incurred injury or death, you may be liable for a felony hit-and-run.
What’s needed for Form SR-1?
You, your insurance agent or your attorney will have to gather the particulars of the accident, which are:
- Scene of the accident
- Time of the accident
- Other driver’s state, driver’s license number, license plate number and insurance information, that is, the insurance company, policy number and date of expiration
- The names and addresses of all insurance policyholders and vehicle owners party to the accident
- Detailed description of personal injuries and property damage incurred
- The names and addresses of all persons who sustained any injury
Coping with an accident can be intimidating and confusing. The situation’s a mess. Putting the Form SR-1 together is an enterprise, and many other questions may arise as well. The help of an attorney skilled in this area of the law can ease the way forward.