How to Get a Car Accident Report in California

California has a fault-based insurance system that requires car accident victims to file claims against the insurance of the driver who caused the accident. Unlike the handful of no-fault insurance states, California drivers do not file claims against their own insurance policies unless the driver at fault for the accident is uninsured and the injury victim has uninsured motorist coverage in their policy. Otherwise, a car accident victim must prove that someone else caused their accident so they can recover compensation for damages like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The Encino car accident attorneys want to remind victims that obtaining a car accident report from law enforcement is a fundamental part of proving the cause of a car accident in California.

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Reporting a Car Accident in California

After a car accident, it’s important to call the police to report the accident. Any car accident with damages to one or both vehicles and/or injuries must be reported to the police. Car accident victims also have to report their accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if the accident caused $1,000 or more in property damage. California Vehicle Code Section 20008 states the following:

“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.”

Drivers must submit a written report within 24 hours of the crash. By calling the police to the scene, the report is written and submitted by the police after you sign it.

How Do I Request a Copy of My Car Accident Report in California?

You can request a copy of the police report of your accident by submitting an Application for Release of Information. You can find this application online, print it, and mail a copy of the request to the police department in your jurisdiction. Most requests require a $10.00 fee for a copy. You can also submit your completed form in person at a highway patrol office in your jurisdiction.

Once you have a copy of the police report of your accident, it becomes important evidence in your car accident case. However, it’s not always enough to secure full compensation for your damages. The at-fault party’s insurance company also investigates the accident and assigns an adjuster to the case. Insurance adjusters help protect company profits by finding ways to minimize the payout on a claim, often by assigning an undue percentage of fault to an injury victim so they can reduce the amount of the payout by that percentage of fault under the state’s comparison negligence laws.

You may need more evidence to clearly establish the other party’s liability, plus your medical report to prove you’ve suffered injuries. Recovering compensation depends upon proving you’ve suffered both economic and non-economic damages from the accident.

Should I Hire a California Car Accident Attorney After I Get My Car Accident Report?

If you have substantial damages after a car accident due to serious injuries, lost income, and medical expenses, an experienced Encino personal injury attorney who specializes in California car accidents helps to maximize the amount of compensation you recover by investigating the accident and compiling evidence to make a strong case for your compensation. They put together a compelling demand package to send to the insurer and then negotiate with the insurance adjuster to obtain the largest possible settlement. They may advise taking your case to court to seek a positive jury award if the insurance company fails to offer an acceptable settlement. Only about five percent of car accident cases require litigation in court.

Obtaining a copy of your police report after an accident is an important step in the process of getting the compensation you deserve if someone else causes your car accident.

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