Can I Still File a Car Accident Claim in California if I Don’t Have the Police Report?

Suppose you are in a California car accident where there are no serious injuries and what appears to be minor car damage. In that case, it can be tempting to exchange information with the other driver and leave the accident scene. You may want to think twice. If you don’t get a police report, you could wind up being sued for an accident you may not have caused. There are some circumstances when failing to obtain a police report is actually against the law. And beyond that, the question remains: are you still able to file a car accident claim without a police report?

In California, drivers involved in a car accident that results in an injury or death are legally required to file a police report within 24 hours of the accident. Insurance claims can usually go forward without a police report. While a police report helps speed up the claims process, it won’t prevent the claim from being processed.

You must exchange identification information with the other driver in a car accident. Failure to identify yourself is a misdemeanor hit and run in California.

If you were in a California car accident and did not call the police, get advice from a California personal injury lawyer. The lawyer can evaluate your case and discuss your legal options.

Benefits of Getting a Police Report

You might not think there is any reason to file a police report at the time of the accident. Maybe the other driver agreed with you. However, there are several reasons getting a police report is a good idea.

  • For every claim filed after an accident, insurance companies want to know who is at fault to decide whose insurance will cover the damage. A police report is a detailed and official account of the accident. It includes whether police cited anyone, eyewitness accounts, the officer’s opinion of how it happened, and any on-the-scene evidence. 
  • A police report serves as a helpful piece of evidence because it can include the testimony of witnesses to the accident.
  • You may feel fine at the time of the accident. However, some injuries do not present themselves right away. Neck and back injuries can show up hours, weeks, or months after a car accident. Having a police report helps legitimize your claim, should you decide to file for compensation for medical expenses later.
  •  At the accident, you may think the damage to your vehicle is minor. However, after the car accident, you may find internal damage that will be costly to fix. If you have a police report, you stand a better chance of holding the at-fault driver liable for damages.
  • The other driver might decide to file a claim against you for medical expenses or vehicle damage after the accident. Without a police report, it may be challenging to prove you were not at fault.

Can Not Having a Police Report Negatively Affect Your Claim?

Without a police report, how the accident happened is left to your word against the other driver’s. The police report provides an objective third party’s view (the police officer) of what the scene of the accident looked like and who was likely at fault for the accident. 

If you don’t report a car accident to the police, you could be charged with a misdemeanor hit and run. This charge is a serious crime that can result in license suspension, fines, and jail time. In addition, you might lose insurance coverage for the accident if you don’t notify your auto insurance company soon after.

Don’t let this happen to you! Always report a car accident to California police. And if you were already in an accident that you didn’t register, contact a trusted car accident lawyer in Sacramento. A lawyer can advise you on what to do next.

How to File a Claim Without a Police Report

Even though you did not call the police from the accident scene, you still need to file the claim with your insurance company and the DMV. You must also report an accident to the DMV within ten days when someone is killed, injured, or damage exceeds $1,000. 

Additionally, you can still file a police report by calling the police or going to the police station after the accident. Some agencies allow you to file the report online.

Work with a professional personal injury lawyer to help you gather the necessary information to strengthen your case. A lawyer can try to recreate the scene of the accident via:

  • Photos of the damage to your vehicle
  • Photos of your injuries
  • Photos of the accident scene, debris and tire marks
  • Video recordings from surrounding traffic cameras or businesses
  • Third-party witness statements

Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer in Sacramento, California

If you have been in a car accident and need the help of an experienced lawyer, contact Eric Ratinoff for a free consultation. Eric has over 25 years of professional experience as a seasoned personal injury trial lawyer. He has successfully recovered millions on behalf of people injured by others’ negligent and careless behavior. 

Eric Ratinoff Law Corp. can help you get the compensation you deserve. Our firm works on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t pay unless we win. Call (916) 579-7658 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.