How to File a Car Crash Report in California

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

California law requires an accident report to be filed with the state police department and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Failing to do so means losing information that could be incredibly valuable to your claim and could result in a legal offense that carries financial penalties and jail time.

State law requires you to file this report if you are involved in a collision that resulted in injury, property damage, or death to the driver or passenger. Although you can file in person, a legal representative (in this case, your attorney or insurance agent) can file your accident report if it involves:

  • Damage to your property greater than $1,000
  • Injuries to the driver or one or more passengers
  • Death of any of the parties involved in the accident

Along with a detailed statement of damages, your report must present the following information:

  • The date, time, and location in which the accident occurred
  • The total number of vehicles involved in the collision
  • The contact details, vehicle, and insurance of the complaining party and the accused

If the accident results in the death or injury of any passengers, you must also include their names and addresses and detailed descriptions of the injuries or property damage they suffered.

After reporting your accident, you or a licensed attorney can obtain a copy of the report by completing a CHP 190 Collision Request Form and submitting it with a photocopy of your state driver’s license, identification card, or notarized signature. This report contains factual data about your crash, such as weather conditions and forensic observations. With the help of a knowledgeable attorney, you can obtain this information to support your claim and secure your compensation.

If the affected driver cannot file the report, a passenger present at the incident may continue the process. Understanding the steps for filing an accident report helps you comply with state laws. It ensures you have evidence of your accident when negotiating your settlement with the other driver’s insurer.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.