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How to Obtain a Copy of a California Accident Police Report

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There are a variety of important factors that car accident attorneys consider when determining whether to take a case or not. First, the date of the accident cannot be beyond two years, which is the deadline for filing a lawsuit in the state of California. The data associated with an accident is important as well – for example, there might be no need to file a lawsuit if there were no significant injuries sustained in an accident.

At some point in a legal car accident claim, negligence must be proven, this is when a California accident police report comes into play. If you have been injured in a California car accident, it is important to know your rights and speak to an experienced auto accident attorney like those at Avrek Law.

How to Get a Copy of a Traffic Accident Report

Follow these steps:

  1. Contact the police agency that investigated accident
  2. Complete a Record Request Form (some departments will charge a small fee and most agencies can send this to you via email)

Obtaining a police report (or fighting a police report) after the accident involves, inevitably, jumping through some bureaucratic hoops. Although the California Highway Patrol does not provide a simple one-step way to get a copy of the police report on their website, the site has several ways to start looking for the information you need.

If you know the date, time and location of the incident for which you want to receive a report, you can use the contact information to get the statement. Go to the “Contact with the California Highway Patrol” section that appears in “Resources.” The easiest way to get in touch with the department is to call the phone number provided (1-800-TELL-CHP) to talk to a real person. Once you have provided the date, time and location of the incident, you may be asked to come into the office if you need to sign anything.

Although going through the CHP is the best option, you may want to try out the quicker approach of contacting your insurance company. You can usually get a copy of the police accident report while conducting your collision investigation.

What to Do With Accident Report?

The police report is, in many cases, a fundamental piece to know the dynamics and responsibility in an accident. When the fault is clear, there is no problem, but at other times there may be doubts about the way the accident happened and the presence of the authorities and the accident report that they prepare will serve to determine that responsibility.

How Important Is a California Police Accident Report


One essential source of evidence that attorneys have access to is the California State Vehicle Accident Report, or better known as the police report. This report is what a law enforcement officer fills out at the scene of an accident to take data on what happened and contains information about the people involved in the accident, contact information, witness statements and police details explaining what happened, how and when. It also usually indicates what the police officer believes to have been the cause of the accident, including hit and run accidents.

The police report is often a tool that personal injury lawyers use to prove the defendant was guilty of an accident so monetary compensation can be reached by the plaintiff. For this reason, it is important for you to file a police report after a car accident in California, even if you were driving without insurance. Whether you experience serious injuries or not, it is always helpful to have a police report in the event of future damages arising from the car accident, or to prevent the insurer from trying to blame you. Having the information contained in a traffic accident report allows you to feel confident that you will not be blamed for the mishap.

Do I Have to Report an Accident to the DMV in California?

Californian law requires traffic accidents occurring on the streets or roads or private property of California be reported to the DMV within 10 days if there were injuries, death or material damage exceeding $750. Failure to report on time may result in the DMV suspending the driver’s license. The law requires the driver to submit a CA DMV SR1 form regardless of who was to blame. This report must be made in addition to any other report submitted to a law enforcement agency, insurance company or the California Highway Patrol (CHP), as their reports do not meet the SR-1 filing requirement.

Section 1806 of the California Vehicle Code (CVC) requires the DMV to record accident information, regardless of who was at fault, when individuals report accidents under the Financial Responsibility Act, or if law enforcement agencies or the CHP investigate and report.

Californian law also requires every driver and every motor vehicle owner to be “financially responsible” for any injury or damage resulting from driving or owning a motor vehicle. The minimum level of “financial liability” insurance is liability coverage and for material damages of $15,000 per injury or death of a person; $30,000 per injury or death of two or more people; and $5,000 for material damages originated by the accident. Simple full coverage insurance does not meet the legal requirement.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Copy of a California Highway Patrol Accident Report?

Generally speaking, it takes a week to get a copy of the accident report, but it also depends on the complexity of the accident and the parties involved. In some rare cases, complications may make it harder for authorities to set a final report; this causes waiting periods that could extend to a month or two.

If you think the authorities are taking too long to provide the report, you should contact your Avrek lawyer as soon as possible for assistance. The consultation is free, and you’ll receive expert advice from a law firm with $1 billion recovered in over 45,000 cases. Avrek Law is a “no win, no fee” law firm, meaning you only pay our fee if we successfully resolve your case. Contact us today – we’re here to help!

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