Do you need a police report to file an accident claim in California

Were you injured in a California auto accident, but the police didn’t respond? If so, you might wonder if you can file an accident claim without a police report. The short answer is yes, but it’s not necessarily an easy road ahead. Your police report is typically a crucial part of the investigative process for your claim. However, the absence of one won’t completely bar you from recovering compensation for your injuries. 

Learn more about police reports and their importance in your auto accident claim. If you have questions regarding how to pursue an insurance claim without a police report, reach out to the knowledgeable legal team at Silva Injury Law at (209) 600-4389

What Is a Police Report, and What Is Its Significance in Auto Accidents?

The police report is your accident report. It’s the official record the responding law enforcement officer creates at the accident scene. Your report includes essential details about the accident, such as: 

  • Accident date and time,
  • Parties involved, 
  • Witness statements, 
  • Damage location on vehicles,
  • Injuries reported, and
  • The officer’s initial assessment of fault. 

It may also contain observations about weather conditions, road situations, and a list of any citations issued at the scene.

Accident reports are beneficial in insurance claims, especially if there’s contradicting information or a liability dispute. For instance, suppose the other driver claims that the crash was your fault but you say it was their fault. You each clearly have an interest in how the liability issue is resolved. But the officer is a third party whose unbiased observations as detailed in the report will likely help resolve the liability question. Many insurance companies consider police reports to be the objective account of an uninterested party—and for that reason, the insurer often gives it more weight than the assertions of either driver. When liability is unclear or disputed, the police report’s narrative and the officer’s conclusions can be particularly influential.

Furthermore, a police report can be instrumental in speeding up the claims process, providing a foundation for your claim, and serving as a reference point for all parties involved.  

Do I Need a Police Report to File a Car Accident Claim?

You can file an accident claim in California without a police report. Its absence does not legally prevent you from seeking compensation for damages and injuries sustained in an auto accident.

Just note that filing a claim without a police report can present some challenges. The other driver’s insurance adjuster will likely question why there is no police report. Without one, you will need to rely more heavily on different types of evidence to prove your claim. 

In situations where a police report is unavailable, such as in minor accidents or where police did not respond to the scene, gathering alternative evidence becomes crucial. 

Challenges of Filing a Claim Without a Police Report

In California, comparative negligence applies. That means you can pursue compensation for your injuries, even if you’re partially at fault. Without a police report, you can expect the other driver’s insurance to dispute your version of the accident even more aggressively. This position can make settlement negotiations more challenging. 

Another challenge is the increased skepticism from insurance companies. Without a police report, insurers may question the claim’s validity altogether. They may ask how you can prove these injuries came from the accident. If they are skeptical, they might deny your claim outright or come back with a low settlement offer. 

If it was a minor car accident with no police report, the insurance company would likely have more questions. California law requires you to report a collision to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days for any accident with $1,000 or more in property damage or any injury—no matter how minor the injury seems. You, your insurance company, agent, or attorney can file, but you must ensure it’s done timely. 

Evidence Needed to Prove a Car Accident Claim 

In the absence of a police report, relying on alternative evidence becomes essential. Let’s look at some examples of evidence you could use to prove your claim. 

  1. Witness statements. Collect contact information and statements from anyone who witnessed the accident. 
  2. Photographs and videos. Images or videos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and visible injuries are vital. However, you should only take photos and videos if you can do so safely and not further injure yourself. 
  3. Medical records and doctor’s notes. Seek medical treatment immediately following an accident, especially when you don’t have a police report. It can establish credibility when the doctor’s notes confirm the date and time of your treatment in relation to when the crash occurred. 
  4. Accident reconstructionist report. It might be necessary to hire an accident reconstructionist to investigate and prepare a report detailing how they believe the accident happened. These are industry experts with years of experience who can also testify in court should that become necessary. 

Every accident is different, so your case might also benefit from other types of evidence. That’s why it’s essential to consider hiring a California car accident lawyer

Why Hire a California Car Accident Lawyer?

Speaking with a lawyer early on in any car accident case is recommended, especially if you have questions about whether you can file an accident claim without a police report. An experienced lawyer brings a depth of knowledge on accident claims and state laws. You need someone who can navigate the claims process and help you build a strong compensation case. Hiring a lawyer can significantly improve your chances of a favorable outcome in an accident claim. 

Contact Silva Injury Law

When you need assistance navigating California law in an automobile accident claim, Silva Injury Law stands ready to help. Our legal team has years of experience and knows what’s necessary to build a solid case in accidents without a police report. Don’t attempt to handle your claim independently. Instead, contact our skilled legal team at (209) 600-4389 to schedule a consultation. Let us review your case and help you get the justice you deserve.