What Happens if you Don’t Report a Car Accident?
Accidents are a pain! They emotionally drag you down and often have physical and property damages you need to recover. Despite these challenges, you must still report a significant car accident.
That is why we discuss how important it is to report an accident to the proper authorities.
IS IT THE LAW TO REPORT THE ACCIDENT?
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires all crashes file an SR-1 form within ten days of the accident. Failure to submit the DMV form can result in a suspension of your driver’s license for one year.
This form is necessary for any accident that meets the following requirements:
- Property Damages exceed $750
- An injury or death due to the collision
Please note that filing a report with a law enforcement agency, the California Highway Patrol, or insurance company is not equal to filling out the DMV’s SR-1.
The one exception to the law is when the injuries were grave enough to prevent the parties from filing the SR-1 in the required time. You can ask a third-party (e.g., attorney) file the report for you.
Please be aware that the California Vehicle Code Section 20002 might consider not reporting an accident as a hit-and-run.
If you leave the scene of a car accident before reporting it to the authorities, you might receive depending upon the severity of the crash:
- Jail time of six months or less
- A fined up to $1,000
IT’S OKAY! WE EXCHANGED INFORMATION BEFORE WE LEFT
No, it is not okay! Do not consider a crash closed if neither party contacts the insurance company or reports the accident to the DMV at the scene.
Remember you exchanged your information. The other party has your standard identification items like:
- driver license
- plate number
- vehicle photos
- contact information
- witness names and phone numbers
- insurance information
Often at the scene of the accident, parties do a preliminary assessment of damages. The other party can find additional damages or notice an injury from the collision after the fact.
If the other party then files a report later to the DMV without your knowledge, they could blame you for the entire accident. You have no defense because you did not protect yourself by reporting the incident as well.
Things get worse if the other driver than files a claim against your insurance for damages. Above we talked about the challenge of hit-and-run accidents. They dislike unreported accidents claims filed against their company.
How do you now prove you did not commit a hit-and-run on the other party? You could face a terrifying outcome from an incident you believed was over.
Avoid the entire situation in the first place by filing the SR-1 form as soon as possible. In particular, if you are the victim, it is a better reason to report the accident. You need this document to collect your settlement later.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU MISSED THE 10-DAY DEADLINE?
If you missed the deadline, then it is not too late to fix the oversight.
The first step is to find out if the other driver filed the SR-1 form. If you did not receive a letter from the DMV about the incident, there is a good chance they do not know about the accident.
Check your license on the DMV website to see if they suspended your license. If they did not suspend you, then they do not know about the accident.
The DMV suspends your license for a year because they assume you did not have insurance at the time of the accident.
You can still get your coverage back, but you need to present a valid insurance policy to the DMV. They might make you fill out the SR-1 form while you are in the DMV. Once you complete the document, you can get your license reinstated.
DO YOU HAVE FURTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT STAYING LEGAL WITH THE CALIFORNIA DMV?
If you have a specific question about a recent car crash, please contact Levinson Law today. Our personal injury attorneys have 40-plus years of experience collecting settlements for drivers.