How to Get a Police Report for a Car Accident in California

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If you or somebody you care about has been injured or sustained property damage in a vehicle accident, then you need to know how to get ahold of the police report after the accident. The police report is what insurance carriers are going to need in order to move forward with a claim to either pay damages for an accident that you caused or for you to obtain compensation for an accident caused by somebody else. If the accident results in an injury, these reports can also be especially helpful for the Long Beach car accident lawyer assisting you with your case. 

You Need Your Police Report – Here’s How to Get It

The law in California requires every driver involved in accidents that result in injuries, a fatality, or property damage of at least $1,000 to report the incident to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days from the incident occurring. California Vehicle Code Section 20008 also requires drivers to submit written reports about the incident to the California Highway Patrol or the Police Department that handled the incident within 24 hours if the crash caused injuries or a fatality.

Individuals can ensure they file their DMV and California Highway Patrol reports in one of two ways:

  1. Call the police at the scene of the incident, which is typically required. The police will conduct an investigation and complete the accident report and submit it to the DMV and CHP on your behalf.
  2. You can submit the report to the DMV and CHP yourself. If you do this, you will have to fill out the forms and mail them to the correct offices as soon as possible.

When a police officer creates an accident report in California, they’re required to submit the report to the DMV within 10 days. Typically, a copy of the police report will be available for you to obtain shortly after either the police submitted to the DMV or after you submitted it on your own to the DMV.

You can request a copy of a California car accident report in a few ways. First, we strongly encourage you to work with a skilled car accident lawyer who can contact the DMV or police department on your behalf to obtain a copy of the report. Additionally, you can obtain a copy:

  • By mail. If you print and fill out the application for release of information, you can then mail this form to the office that initially received your report along with payment (typically around $10).
  • In-person. You can print out the same form mentioned above and then take it in-person to a local California Highway Patrol office. You can search online to find the closest CHP office near you or call the CHP headquarters at (916) 843-3000 for help. 

After you obtain your California car accident report, you can proceed forward with any injury or insurance claim you may have against another driver involved in the incident. We strongly encourage you to let a lawyer handle your case to ensure that you recover as much money as possible for your medical bills, property damage expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering losses.