What Could Happen

If You Don’t Report a Car Accident?

In the chaotic aftermath of a car accident, every decision you make in those crucial seconds can significantly impact your future, affecting your health, freedom, and financial well-being. It’s vital to pause, take a breath, and consider your next steps. Reporting the accident is one of the most critical actions, but what happens when you don’t report a car accident?

What Could Happen If You Don't Report a Car Accident?

November 9, 2023

The Legal Obligation to Stop

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) underscores the importance of stopping after an accident, regardless of its magnitude. Leaving the scene can lead to being charged with a hit and run, irrespective of fault. So, what are the potential consequences when you fail to report an accident? The repercussions hinge on the severity of injuries and property damage.

According to the California Vehicle Code (CVC 20001), any accident resulting in injuries or damages exceeding $1,000 must be promptly reported to the police. Failure to do so can result in fines, jail time, or both. In such situations, it’s essential to seek assistance from a reputable law firm like Mercado & Sacramento, PC to guide you through the necessary steps.

Legal Consequences of Non-Reporting

Right after a car accident, all parties involved, including passengers, are legally obligated to stop and, if immediate medical attention isn’t necessary, exchange personal information and report the accident. The legal consequences for failing to share information and later reporting the accident vary by state.

In California, the penalties for failing to report an accident depend on the accident’s severity. Regardless of the accident’s magnitude, not reporting personal information or the accident can lead to a temporary loss of your driver’s license. Additionally, as per CVC 20001, there’s the risk of a one-year jail term and a minimum fine of $1,000, or both. If the accident results in a fatality or serious injury, the jail term could extend to four years, with a maximum fine of $10,000. Fleeing the accident scene could result in an additional five years in prison for all involved, including passengers.

Reporting the Accident

As the initial shock of the accident subsides, it’s crucial to remember as many details as possible for the accident report. If the accident is severe, a police officer should be on the scene to handle this paperwork.

Do you need to report an accident to the police? If the accident causes injuries or damage exceeding $1,000, it will be included in the driving records of all parties involved, regardless of fault. For minor incidents, people generally have 10 days to submit the accident report to the DMV by filing an SR-1 form instead of involving the police. However, if there’s any injury and the damage exceeds $1,000, it’s advisable to report the accident to the police to avoid additional fines and potential jail time.

Reporting to Your Insurance

While there’s no legal requirement, according to CVC 20003, to report an accident to your insurance provider, failing to do so could result in legal and financial complications, depending on your insurance contract.

Many individuals avoid reporting minor incidents to prevent paying high deductibles and increased premiums. But for accidents causing injuries or more than $1,000 in damage, it’s crucial to file a police report, share personal information, and document the incident.

Moving Your Car After an Accident

Whether to move your car after an accident depends on its severity. If both parties are uninjured and the vehicles are drivable, it’s recommended to relocate to the roadside to prevent traffic blockage.

However, if there are injuries or it’s unsafe to operate the vehicles, it’s best to wait for the ambulance and police officers to arrive before moving the cars.

Before relocating your car after a serious accident, we suggest following these steps:

  1. Stop immediately.
  2. Ensure the accident scene is safe.
  3. Call the police.
  4. Take photos.
  5. Create accurate records.
  6. Exchange contact and insurance details.
  7. Report the accident.
  8. Seek medical attention.
  9. Identify potential witnesses.
  10. Don’t admit fault.
  11. Understand your insurance.
  12. Contact a trusted lawyer.

Consulting a Lawyer After an Accident

If you’re unsure about the consequences of not reporting a car accident, now is the time to contact a reputable law firm like Mercado & Sacramento, PC for guidance. Lawyers can help protect your rights, advise you on potential lawsuits, and assist in acquiring a police report for your case. Visit or contact us today for personalized assistance.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Assist

California car accident lawyers play a crucial role in helping victims of car accidents secure compensation for their injuries. They adeptly navigate the legal process, negotiate with insurance companies, and tirelessly advocate for fair compensation to address medical expenses, lost wages, and the emotional toll of pain and suffering.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a car accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to Mercado & Sacramento, PC Auto Accident Attorneys for a free case evaluation. Our experienced legal team is committed to protecting your rights and assisting you in obtaining the financial compensation you rightfully deserve.

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