Found Yourself in a Fender Bender? Here’s When to Report an Accident to the DMV
Research shows that you will crash your car once every 17.9 years. If you got your driving license at the age of 16, you can expect your first crash by the time you turn 34.
But that’s not all. Over the course of your driving career, you can expect to have 3-4 accidents altogether. That’s not the type of news we’d like to hear, but it’s true nonetheless.
So whether you crash into a stop sign or rear-end someone who stopped suddenly on the freeway, chances are that at some point, you will wonder about reporting an accident.
Read on to learn when to report an accident, who you have to report to, and what can happen if you don’t!
Reporting An Accident to the DMV
Many people ask themselves, “do you have to report an accident?” The answer to that question depends on the circumstances and where you live.
But first, let’s talk about who you report an accident to in the first place.
The Department of Motor Vehicles also called the DMV, is responsible for keeping track of each person’s driving record. They also carry out driving tests, license renewals, collect taxes on car purchases and assign license plates among other things.
If you need to file an accident report, the DMV is the organization you send it to.
When to Report an Accident
Sometimes after a collision, the police are called to the scene. In these cases, a police officer will assess the situation, hand out citations for speeding, failing to yield and so on.
The officer will file out a report that could be used by insurance companies to determine fault. If the officer gives you a ticket for any violation, the police will also notify the DMV. The infraction will go on your driving record.
If you file a claim with your insurance provider and are found at fault, you will likely have to pay higher premiums for coverage and in extreme cases, lose your coverage. However, the insurance company does not report to the DMV.
Even if the police are not called to the scene, you may still need to file a report.
When Police Are Not Called to the Accident
Many times, police are not called to the scene of an accident. Sometimes, even when they are called, they advise the caller on the phone to report in person to the police station instead of sending an officer to the scene.
Also, if an accident happened on private property (such as a mall parking lot), police will not come to the scene.
If you are not at fault, you may want to contact your insurance company to make a claim. Yet, if the damage is less costly than your deductible, it may not be worth putting in a claim. Your insurance agent can give you helpful advice if you are not sure what to do.
But you may or may not have to report to the DMV.
Single car accidents or minor fender benders with no injuries are often not reported. Even your insurance company wouldn’t know about these incidents unless you make a claim.
Filing an Accident Report
Reporting an accident to the DMV can be done by you, your insurance agent, a legal representative or the police officer.
One of you will need to complete a DMV accident report form. This report will ask you to list specific details about the accident.
You will need to outline the time and place of the accident as well as the name, address, driver’s license number and insurance information of all the parties involved.
The report asks for your insurance company, policy, and expiry date. There is also a section where you can explain the property damage or injuries that took place as a result of the accident.
If you or another person was injured in the collision, you might want to consult a car accident lawyer before filing the DMV report.
Deadlines for Filing an Accident Report
A DMV accident report needs to be filled out no later than 5-30 days after the incident depending on the state you live in.
You can complete the form online, in person at your local DMV office or send a paper copy in the mail.
If you fail to file an accident report form on time, the DMV may suspend or revoke your driver’s license. So make sure you check your state laws to ensure you file the report before the deadline.
Generally, any time you file an accident to the DMV, it will also appear on your driving record for a specific number of years. This is true even if you were not at fault.
If a police officer pulls up your driving record, he or she will see the accident. So will your insurance company if you are renewing your insurance or switching to a different provider.
The deadline for filing the report and the procedure can vary by state. Make sure to consult your state’s DMV for specific details and to get the correct form for your area.
There you have it! Now you have a good idea of when to report an accident to the DMV.
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