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Why Police Reports Matter After a Car Accident

Why Police Reports Matter After a Car Accident

by | Jun 27, 2023 | Car Accidents

Why Police Reports Matter After a Car Accident

You must take specific steps after a car accident in California, including exchanging information with other drivers and contacting your insurance company. While each step is equally important, one, in particular, could lead to significant consequences if not completed. California requires that motorists file a police report for car accidents that meet certain criteria, so it is crucial that you know what these qualifying factors are to comply with state law. Contact us at 888 964-1530 if you have been in injured in an accident. You can also reach us here 

What is a Police Report?

A car accident police report is often completed by the officer that responds to a car accident. The officer will create a summary of the investigation they perform on the scene, which becomes the police report. It will often include details like:

  • Date and location of the accident
  • Contact information of the parties involved
  • Description of property damage
  • Weather and road conditions
  • Statements from witnesses
  • Opinions on the cause of the crash

If any traffic violations or other laws were broken, the police report would also include details of the violations and citations given to drivers. Car accidents in California also require an accident report, but this is not the same as a police report. An accident report is made on a Form SR-1, Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California, and it is provided to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, not law enforcement.  We can help you with your SR-1 Report. You can reach us at 888 964-1530.

If you have been involved in a collision in Los Angeles or the surrounding areas, Michael D. Payne can be an invaluable resource on your path to recovery. He will use his decades of experience and in-depth knowledge of California personal injury laws to fight for the best possible outcome for you.

What is the Law in California?

Any driver involved in an accident that causes injuries or death is required to file a police report. If the injuries are not severe enough or the circumstances of the accident do not warrant notifying law enforcement, you have 24 hours to report the accident to the proper authorities. California Vehicle Code states that if the accident occurs within a city, such as Los Angeles, the driver can report the accident to either the California Highway Patrol (CHP) or the city’s police department.

If the police are notified and arrive on the scene of the crash, they will complete a police report, and the drivers are not required to file any additional reports. In cases where the driver is injured so severely they cannot file, a passenger of the vehicle can complete it on their behalf.

Penalties for failing to file a police report after a car accident vary and will depend on the circumstances of the collision. For example, drivers who neglect to file a report after a car accident involving a fatality could face up to four years in jail and $10,000 in fines. If you have questions about how California laws apply to your car accident case, the Law Offices of Michael D. Payne in West Covina have the answers.

Why are Police Reports Important?

It is always a good idea to contact CHP or the local police after an accident. An officer can assess the scene, help direct traffic, and complete a police report for you. Aside from the potential legal requirement to complete a police report, this document can be valuable for any settlement negotiations or litigation that may occur after your car accident. It provides an unbiased, third-party account of the details of the accident and injuries involved, which can be useful when filing an insurance claim or initiating legal action.

In the context of your insurance claim or lawsuit, the police report will likely have an impact on fault and compensation. Car insurance companies often conduct their own investigations when determining how to approach a settlement offer, but that does not mean the police report is useless. It does provide an initial impression of the car accident, including the circumstances that led up to the crash and the preliminary effect the collision had on the people involved. These two elements often influence decisions on who is at fault and how much compensation you need. Contact us at 888 964-1530 if you have been in injured in an accident. You can also reach us here

Do Insurance Companies Rely on Police Reports?

Insurance companies use many methods and resources to reach a determination about your car accident claim, and police reports are among the tools they use. The insurer’s decision may not align with what the police report says, which is why having a qualified car accident attorney on your side is important. As a former insurance company lawyer, Michael D. Payne understands the tactics insurers use when negotiating a settlement, and his legal expertise earned him an appearance on CNN.

A police report holds significant evidentiary weight because it is often created immediately following the accident, includes eyewitness statements from the officer, and is recorded by an objective party. However, insurance companies are for-profit entities, which means they will try their best to pay as little as possible to accident victims. When the insurer disregards a police report in favor of their own bottom line, you may need to stand firm in your demand for fair compensation.

Police reports are not always legal requirements after a car accident, but they can make a difference in the outcome of your insurance claim or lawsuit. California residents injured in crashes in Los Angeles, West Covina, or other nearby localities can benefit from having the Law Offices of Michael D. Payne on their side. You are not required to pay any legal fees unless your case is won. Call 888-964-1530 or visit to schedule a free consultation.