It can be hard to know when you are legally required to report a minor car accident in California. Small fender benders occur all the time. When no one is injured and the damages are minimal, it may seem like you are under no obligation to report the incident. However, the legal requirements can vary, depending on the type of accident and the state where the incident occurred. This is why knowing the proper steps to take can help you avoid a lot of stress in the future.
Must the Accident Be Reported to the Police?
As in most situations involving car accidents, determining whether you need to report your accident to law enforcement depends on the state that the accident occurred in, as well as the specific circumstances surrounding the severity of your accident. If anyone was injured in the accident, almost all states require you to report the accident to police immediately. If no one was injured but there was damage to either vehicle or any property damage, most states will require you to report the accident – but typically only when the property damage exceeds a high amount like $1,000 to $2,500, depending on where it took place.
Regardless of whether you decide to call the police, you will likely be obligated to exchange information with the other person involved in the accident. In a case where the other party is reluctant or refuses to exchange information with you, it is imperative to alert the authorities so that they can document the incident and get the necessary information.
It may also benefit you to contact the police if there is even the possibility that you could have been injured, even if you do not feel the effects right away. The last thing you would want is to become aware of an injury days or even weeks later, only to find out that when you go to file a claim the other party denies the accident ever having taken place. A police report in this situation will help you bring a strong case that you were, in fact, injured by the accident. Moreover, in order to clear up any possible disputes about who exactly was at fault for the accident, it can truly be an asset to have law enforcement show up and take notes on the scene.
Must the Accident Be Reported to My Insurance Company?
The idea of your insurance rates going up for a small fender bender is not a fun one, but the act of not reporting an accident to your insurance company and then having them find out after the fact is far less ideal. There can be serious penalties for failing to notify your insurance provider of an accident, as well as difficulties when it comes to dealing with the insurance company. So, unless it is a rare situation where you are involved in an incident that only involves you and your own personal vehicle and/or property — and not any other individual — it is best to let the insurance company know about the accident as soon as possible.
Free Consultation with an Experienced Car Crash Attorney in Chino Hills, CA
Whether you should notify the police or your insurance company after an accident may be debatable, but one thing is clear: having a knowledgeable lawyer to help you figure out how to proceed with your accident claim is probably the smartest move you can make. Contact the Paris Law Firm at 909-469-5127 or via our online contact form to schedule an initial case evaluation and get answers to your questions.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.