When you are involved in an auto accident in Bakersfield, you have an obligation to report the accident in most cases. As discussed in greater detail below, the only time you are not required to report an accident to the State of California is when the accident does not result in any injuries and the total property damage is less than $1,000. However, even then, you will generally need to notify your insurance company of the accident.
Of course, in many cases, you will not necessarily know the full consequences of the accident. You might not know how much it costs to fix the other driver’s car, truck, or SUV, and you might not know whether he or she decides to seek medical treatment. As a result, when dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident in Bakersfield, it is important to rely on the advice of an experienced attorney.
What Are the Reporting Requirements After an Auto Accident in Bakersfield?
Depending on the circumstances involved, you could potentially be required to file three separate reports after an auto accident in Bakersfield. This includes filing reports with:
- The Department of California Highway Patrol (CHP) or the Bakersfield Police Department
- The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
- Your auto insurance company
The reporting requirements vary by the agency or organization.
1. Reporting the Accident to the Department of California Highway Patrol (CHP) or the Bakersfield Police Department
Under California law, all auto accidents resulting in injury or death must be reported to the Department of California Highway Patrol (CHP) or the local police. Section 20008 of the California Vehicle Code states:
“The driver of a 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 . . . or the police department of the city in which the accident occurred.”
This means that if you are involved in an auto accident in Bakersfield, you have an obligation to report the accident to CHP or the Bakersfield Police Department.
Importantly, if the police responded to the scene of the accident, then this satisfies all of the involved drivers’ reporting obligations. As the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) explains, drivers must “[r]eport the collision in writing to the police or CHP immediately if anyone is killed or injured and law enforcement was not present at the scene.”
2. Reporting the Accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
In addition to reporting the accident to CHP or the Bakersfield Police Department, you may have an obligation to report the accident to the DMV as well. Filing a police report does not satisfy your reporting obligation to the DMV, and filing a DMV report does not satisfy your reporting obligation to the police.
You must report your Bakersfield auto accident to the California DMV if:
- The accident resulted in injury or death
- The accident resulted in more than $1,000 in property damage
You have 10 days to file a report with the DMV using Form SR 1. Your insurance company may file Form SR 1 for you; if it does, this satisfies your reporting requirement to the DMV.
However, you should not simply assume that your insurance company will file the form with the DMV. Instead, you should have your attorney ensure that Form SR 1 is completed accurately and filed as required. As noted on the second page of Form SR 1, if your insurance company does not fully complete the form, “it will be assumed that you were not insured for the accident and your license will be suspended.”
3. Reporting the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Speaking of insurance, you have an obligation to report the accident to your insurance company as well. This obligation exists not under California law, but under the terms of your auto insurance policy.
Most insurance companies require their customers to report all accidents resulting in injuries or property damage. If you fail to report an accident in a timely fashion, your insurance company may try to use this as an excuse to deny coverage.
Injured in an Accident in Bakersfield, CA? Contact Mickey Fine Today
As you can see, there are a number of steps you should take after being in an auto accident in or around Bakersfield. If you were injured or lost a loved one in an accident, one of these steps should be to contact The Law Offices of Mickey Fine.
Attorney Mickey Fine has been serving clients in Bakersfield and other nearby areas for over 20 years. Our team can help you report the accident, as well as pursue compensation for your injuries and losses.
For immediate assistance, please call (661) 333-3333 today. Your initial consultation is free.