According to California Vehicle Code (CVC) section 16000, individuals involved in a car accident in California are required to report the accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days if:
- There was property damage of more than $1,000;
- Anyone was injured (no matter how minor); or
- Anyone was killed.
Similarly, California Vehicle Code section 20008 also requires accidents to be reported to the Department of the California Highway Patrol within 24 hours. Additional statutes also require anyone involved in a car accident to stop at the scene, provide their contact information to the other parties involved, and wait for the police to arrive if there’s significant property damage, injury, or death.
So, if you’re involved in an accident that meets any of these conditions and you don’t report it to the DMV and the Highway Patrol, you could be violating the law and could potentially face criminal charges and other consequences.
What does CVC Section 20008 say?
“(a) The driver of a vehicle, other than a common carrier vehicle, involved in any accident resulting in injuries to or death of any person shall within 24 hours after the accident make or cause to be made a written report of the accident to the Department of the California Highway Patrol or, if the accident occurred within a city, to either the Department of the California Highway Patrol or the police department of the city in which the accident occurred. If the agency which receives the report is not responsible for investigating the accident, it shall immediately forward the report to the law enforcement agency which is responsible for investigating the accident.
On or before the fifth day of each month, every police department which received a report during the previous calendar month of an accident that it is responsible for investigating shall forward the report or a copy thereof to the main office of the Department of the California Highway Patrol at Sacramento.
(b) The owner or driver of a common carrier vehicle involved in any such accident shall make a like report to the Department of California Highway Patrol on or before the 10th day of the month following the accident.”
What is a “common carrier vehicle”
Vehicles that are utilized by the general public, such as buses, passenger trains, taxis, subways, etc., are considered “common carrier vehicles” according to California law. Such methods of transportation are regulated by Federal and State laws and are expected to exercise a high degree of caution regarding passenger safety.
What does CVC Section 16000 say?
“(a) The driver of a motor vehicle who is in any manner involved in an accident originating from the operation of the motor vehicle on a street or highway, or is involved in a reportable off-highway accident, as defined in Section 16000.1, that has resulted in damage to the property of any one person in excess of one thousand dollars ($1,000), or in bodily injury, or in the death of any person shall report the accident, within 10 days after the accident, either personally or through an insurance agent, broker, or legal representative, on a form approved by the department, to the office of the department at Sacramento, subject to this chapter. The driver shall identify on the form, by name and current residence address, if available, any person involved in the accident complaining of bodily injury.
(b) A report is not required under subdivision (a) if the motor vehicle involved in the accident was owned or leased by or under the direction of, the United States, this state, another state, or a local agency.
(c) If none of the parties involved in an accident has reported the accident to the department under this section within one year following the date of the accident, the department is not required to file a report on the accident and the driver’s license suspension requirements of Section 16004 or 16070 do not apply.
(d) This section shall become operative on January 1, 2017.
(a) For purposes of this division, a “reportable off-highway accident” means an accident that includes all of the following:
(1) Occurs off the street or highway.
(2) Involves a vehicle that is subject to registration under this code.
(3) Results in damages to the property of any one person in excess of one thousand dollars ($1,000) or in bodily injury or in the death of any person.
(b) A “reportable off-highway accident” does not include any accident that occurs off-highway in which damage occurs only to the property of the driver or owner of the motor vehicle and no bodily injury or death of a person occurs.
(c) This section shall become operative on January 1, 2017.
If the vehicle involved was a driverless runaway vehicle and was parked with the express or implied permission of the registered owner, the registered owner of the vehicle shall be construed to have been the driver of the vehicle for the purposes of this chapter.
(a) If the driver at the time of the accident was driving a motor vehicle owned, operated, or leased by the employer of the driver and with the permission of the employer, then the driver shall within five days after the accident report the accident to his employer on a form approved by the employer. Within 10 days after receipt of the report, the employer shall transmit a report on a form approved by the department to the office of the department at Sacramento, except that an employer need not transmit such report when the vehicle involved in the accident is owned or operated as described in Section 16051 or 16052, or is owned or operated by any person or corporation who has filed with the department a certificate of an insurance carrier or surety company that there is in effect a policy or bond meeting the requirements of Section 16056 and when such policy or bond is in force with respect to the vehicle at the time of the accident.
(b) The driver of a vehicle that is owned or operated by a publicly owned or operated transit system, or that is operated under contract with a publicly owned or operated transit system, and that is used to provide regularly scheduled transportation to the general public or for other official business of the system shall, within 10 days of the occurrence of the accident, report to the transit system any accident of a type otherwise required to be reported pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 16000. The transit system shall maintain records of any report filed pursuant to this paragraph. Within 10 days after receipt of the report, the transit system shall transmit a report on a form approved by the department to the office of the department in Sacramento, except that a transit system is not required to submit a report when the vehicle involved in the accident is owned or operated as described in subdivision (b) of Section 16000.)
If any driver is physically incapable of making the report and is not the owner of the motor vehicle involved in the accident, the owner shall, as soon as he learns of the accident, report the matter in writing to the department.
(a) The department shall suspend the driving privilege of any person who fails, refuses, or neglects to make a report of an accident as required in this chapter.
(b) A suspension taken under this section shall remain in effect until terminated by receipt of the report of the accident or upon receipt of evidence that financial responsibility as provided in Section 16021 is in effect.
(c) The driving privilege shall not be suspended under this section, and, if a suspension has been imposed and is in effect under this section, that suspension shall be terminated, if the driving privilege is suspended under Section 16370 or 16381 as the result of a judgment arising out of the same accident for which the report of the accident is required by this section. The department may suspend or reimpose the suspension of the driving privilege of a person under this section if the suspension under Section 16370 or 16381 is later set aside for a reason other than that the person has satisfied the judgment in full or to the extent provided in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 16250) and has given proof of financial responsibility, as provided in Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 16430).
(a) All reports and supplemental reports required by this chapter including insurance information forms shall be without prejudice to the individual so reporting and shall be for the confidential use of the department and any other state department requiring such information, except that the department shall upon request disclose from the reports:
(1) The names and addresses of persons involved in the accident.
(2) The registration numbers and descriptions of vehicles involved in the accident.
(3) The date, time, and location of the accident.
(4) Any suspension action taken by the department.
(5) The names and addresses of insurers.
(b) The information specified in subdivision (a) may be given to any person having a proper interest therein, including:
(1) The driver or drivers involved, or the employer, parent, or legal guardian thereof.
(2) The authorized representative of any person involved in the accident.
(3) Any person injured in the accident.
(4) The owners of vehicles or property damaged in the accident.
(5) Any law enforcement agency.
(6) Any court of competent jurisdiction.”
Put simply, it is absolutely required for anyone involved in more than a fender bender to report the accident to the California DMV and Highway Patrol as soon as possible. The consequences for failure to do so could include losing your driver’s license, fines, criminal charges, or jail time. If you have been injured in a car accident it is vital that you get qualified legal help to give you sound advice to navigate through the legal system. Contact the law firm of J&Y today for a free consultation about your situation and begin to take charge of your future again.