No one would ever consider getting into a car accident to be the highlight of their day. After the initial shock wears off, there is much paperwork to be done. Between filing a report with the police and a claim to the insurance company, it is crucial that all of the proper steps are taken to ensure that you are in compliance with the law.

This article will help you navigate the legal requirements as well as the insurance requirements following a car accident.

What steps should you take after you get into a minor car accident?

  • Make sure everyone is okay.

Pull over to the side of the road in a safe manner to prevent another accident from occurring. Once you are safely on the side and have collected your bearings, you should get out of the car to speak with the other driver. If there is a need for an ambulance, one should be contacted.

  • Contact law enforcement.

It is a good idea for both drivers to call the police to report the accident. If the police say that they will be coming to the scene, you will need to wait for their arrival. If the police say that they will not be coming, you should do your best to collect evidence as discussed in the following sections. An exchange of information should also take place. If no one needs to be hospitalized at that time, you can leave the scene.

Remember: Do not leave the scene of an accident, even if you believe that you are innocent. Legal consequences follow those who hit-and-run.

Do you have to call the police after a minor car accident?

You are not required to call the police after a minor car accident  However, you are still legally responsible for filing a police report. This must occur within twenty-four hours after the accident. This is the case for both minor and major accidents.

To file a police report in Califonia, you will need to fill out the CHP 190 – Collision Request Form. The report asks for information about the accident such as the location and date. You will need to provide a photocopy of your ID. If you do not include a photocopy of your ID, you will need to notarize the form.

If there is more than $1,000.00 worth of damages to the vehicle or if someone is injured or killed as a result of the accident, you are also required to file Form SR 1 with the DMV.

can you file an insurance claim without a police report

Can You File an Insurance Claim Without A Police Report?

Yes, you can file an insurance claim without a police report, but it is most helpful to file the claim with the police report. 

Why a Police Report Matters After a Car Accident.

  1. Some insurance companies may end up denying your claim if it contradicts the other party’s version of the events. In a he said, she said scenario, the insurance company may choose to not pick sides.
  2. Having a police report prevents and/or dissuades false claims. For example, the other party may claim that the accident was your fault. Caught between a rock and a hard place, the insurance company may deny your claim.
  3. Without a police report, it is more difficult to prove the facts of the case. For this reason, the insurance company may claim that the accident never occurred or that you are exaggerating the damages. As a result, they may deny your claim. 

For these reasons, having a collection of evidence that proves your claim is crucial.

A police report would have included much of the details and information about the accident. The police report is also impartial because it is written from the point of view of the officer rather than one of the people involved in the accident. Without a police report, you will need to cover your bases by collecting these details at the scene.

An experienced attorney can assist you when you make your case to the insurance company. Using the evidence gathered at the scene, the attorney can put together what happened at the scene to present it to the insurance company.

While it is preferable to send a police report to the insurance company, sometimes you have to be creative in order to get the money that you are owed to pay for the damages incurred as a result of the accident.

Evidence that will help you with your claim.

Without a police report in hand from an officer at the scene, it is highly recommended that the drivers take the following steps after getting into an accident:

  1. Record everything. Using a device with a microphone, record everything from the second you get out of your car until it is safe for you to return on your way. You will want a record of the conversations you had post-accident. If there is an eyewitness record, having a recording will help you in the future. If there are nearby security cameras, request any available footage.
  2. Take photos. Photos should include the scene itself which includes any roadsides to indicate the exact location of where the accident took place. Make sure to take photos of the damages to your vehicle as well as the other party’s vehicle.
  3. Write down personal details. Take a picture of the other driver’s license as well as write down their phone number in order to follow up later. If there is an eyewitness, be sure to take down their information as well. You may need to contact them later when building your case against the other party.

Note: Even with a police report, these steps should be taken as well.

What is the Statute of Limitations for filing a lawsuit?

The Statute of Limitations is a time horizon for how long a person has to file a lawsuit with the courts. This limits the plaintiff to a certain amount of time in which they can file a lawsuit.

In California, the Statute of Limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit due to injuries caused as a result of a car accident is two  (2) years while the Statute of Limitations for claiming property damages as a result of a car accident is three (3) years.

The timeline starts on the day of the accident. If someone is killed as a result of a car accident, the day of death starts the clock. While it may seem desirable to pursue a lawsuit soon after the car accident, it is important to make sure that you have everything in order when it comes to the evidence and your health before doing so.

Need help with your claim?

Are you having issues with filing your claim with your insurance company after a car accident? The Law Office of David L. Faulkner can help you present your side of the story to your insurance company in the case that you do not have an official police report. Contact us for a free consultation.

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