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Do you have to call the police after a California car accident?

On Behalf of | Oct 23, 2023 | Car Accidents, Personal Injury |

Car accidents can distress and confuse those involved, leaving them shaken and unsure about what to do next. A common question is if you need to call the police.

California requires you or a representative to submit a written report to police within 24 hours of a wreck if someone gets hurt or dies or there is property or vehicle damage greater than $1,000. Besides the legal requirement, there are other reasons to report automobile accidents to the police.


Accidents can result in injuries that might not be immediately apparent. Calling 911 also generally alerts medical professionals that their assistance may be necessary, bringing them to the scene. The police can help prevent further incidents by securing the accident scene and directing traffic to prevent other collisions.


Police officers will document the incident thoroughly. This documentation is helpful, especially if there is a dispute about the events leading to the accident. The police report serves as an official record of the accident, detailing the circumstances surrounding it and any traffic law violations. It is also important for insurance claims and legal proceedings, and without one, you may face more delays and initial rejections.


Not calling the police could complicate the process of filing an insurance claim. Insurance companies often rely on police reports to determine liability. Without a police report, it might be challenging to prove who was at fault, potentially causing disputes and delays in the claims process. Timely police involvement can streamline the insurance procedures, making it easier for all parties involved to resolve the situation.

According to USAToday, in 2022, California had the second-highest number of fatal automobile accidents. After a crash, calling the police can offer considerable benefits. Police officers are more capable when it comes to sorting out the aftermath, handling shocked drivers and passengers, keeping traffic flowing and properly documenting the scene.