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Do I Need To Report A Car Accident In Northern California?

By  Dan McCrary | December 8, 2023

Some people think reporting a car accident isn’t important, which is nothing but a misconception. No matter what the seriousness of the accident, whether it’s minor or a big accident, you must report it within 24 hours. 

It’s important that law enforcement agencies record the details of the accident and catch the culprit. By reporting the accident, you’ll also be able to continue the insurance claim process, as it’s required to submit the police report copy for claims in some states. 

To help you, we’ll explore whether you need to report a car accident in northern California and what California law says about accident cases. We’ll also address what would happen if you don’t report the accident. So, let’s get into the details! 

Do You Need To Report A Car Accident In Northern California?

Yes, you need to report a car accident in Northern California. According to California law section 20008, a person should submit a written report about a car accident within 24 hours. If you’re unavailable or injured, someone else can also submit this report on your behalf. 

Remember, the written report differs from calling the police at the time of the accident. After the written report, you also have to submit the SR-1 report to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). 

The SR-1 report should be submitted within 10 days if someone is injured, died, or any of the drivers has a financial loss over $1000. Your lawyer, insurance agent, or broker can also file the report to the DMV. 

Should I File A Police Report For A Minor Car Accident?

Minor car accidents are basically one that doesn’t pose any threat of death to anyone or lead to a big financial loss. Most individuals think it’s not necessary to report these accidents as no one is injured. 

However, the truth is you must report the accident to the police department, even if it’s minor. Failure to report can have adverse consequences. Without an official report, you may find yourself vulnerable in case of a claim. Since there’s no proof, your case will be weak. 

What Happens If You Don’t Report A Car Accident In California?

There are three possible consequences that can happen if you don’t report a car accident. All of these are serious, as they can lead to a big insurance claim, financial loss, or prolonged legal proceedings if things go to court. 

  1. Insurance Claim: If you don’t report the car accident, it means there’s no valid proof about what exactly happened. As a result, the driver of the other car can make a big insurance claim that the mistake was yours. 
  2. Financial loss: Sometimes, we don’t realize the actual financial loss at the scene of the accident. But after a day or two, we noticed the damage to the car. So, if you delay reporting and later realize the car damage, you’ll not only face a financial hit but also encounter challenges when trying to file a claim. 
  3. Legal Proceedings: The third consequence will be you might have to deal with long legal proceedings. Even if you’re innocent, the lack of a report could work against you, especially if the other party decides to make an insurance claim or go to court.

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How To Report Car Accidents In Northern California?

Here’s the step-by-step process of reporting car accidents in northern California. The process is not about the written report, which anyone can submit, but about the SR-1 report, a necessary requirement in case someone is injured or killed.

Procedure of Reporting Car Accidents In Northern California

  • First, gather the necessary documents. 
    • Your driver’s license and identification card. 
    • A vehicle number of the car. 
    • Insurance information of the vehicle. 
    • The other driver’s name, address, car number, and insurance details. 
  • After gathering all documents, fill out the SR-1 report. 
  • You can easily find this report online or at DMV field offices. 
  • Submit this form to the DMV office. 


In short, reporting a car accident in Northern California is not just a legal requirement; it's a crucial step. With this one report, you can protect yourself from potential financial and legal consequences.

Timely reporting of the issue has many benefits. First, law enforcement can document the details. They’ll also identify the responsible party, which will help your car accident lawyers in further legal process.

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    McCrary Accident Injury Law Firm specializes in personal injury litigation. Its founder, Dan McCrary, Esq., spent 14 years working for the insurance companies before switching sides to represent personal injury victims in Rocklin as an attorney.

    Dan McCrary’s years of experience on the defense side taught him exactly how to obtain maximum recovery for his injured clients. If you have been injured in an accident you should contact the Accident & Injury Lawyers, Personal injury Attorney, Car accident lawyers at McCrary Accident Injury Law Firm in Rocklin, folsom, Sacramento to get the money you deserve, and overcome the tactics routinely employed by the insurance companies.