State-by-State Laws & Requirements for Reporting a Car Accident

accident reporting by state

Each state has its own laws about whether an accident must be reported.

Even a minor car accident can mean a lot of paperwork. Police reports, insurance claims, DMV reports... how do you know what’s what? Does a police report automatically go to the DMV? What if you’re not using insurance? Here’s what you need to know about when and how to report an accident in your state.

Each state has its own set of rules for how, when, and if a car accident is required to be reported. It’s generally good practice to call local police and wait for them to come to the scene so that they can make an accident report. But there are some instances when the police might not come if the accident is very minor. If that happens, it could be up to you to choose to report the accident or not.

If you’re thinking of handling the car accident privately (without using either driver’s insurance), you might be tempted to skip reporting to the police altogether. And, maybe you can — but maybe not.

Every state requires a DMV report for an accident where someone is injured or killed. But some states don’t require a report if the damages total less than a certain amount of money, and time limits vary for when reports need to be filed.

A police report is a good document to have, whether or not you’re using insurance. It will include the specifics of the accident (date, time, location, etc.) and each driver’s name, address, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and other crucial pieces of information.

Even a minor car accident can leave drivers feeling shaken and not thinking clearly — so you might forget to gather some essential information that you’ll need later. There could also be evidence included on a police report that might point to which driver is at fault, and that would be helpful in damage negotiations.

An accident that generates a police report is automatically filed with the DMV.

In other words, you only need to pay attention to your state’s reporting requirements if there’s no police report for your accident. Even if there is a police report, the police might not file it with the DMV on time. If that happens, it’s your responsibility to ensure the DMV receives a report within its deadline.

If there’s a ticket issued related to the accident (speeding, failure to yield, unsafe lane change, etc.), the police will notify the DMV because any infraction goes on the driver’s record.

Enjuris tip: All parties involved in an accident should make their own report to the DMV. If the other party files a report with the DMV and claims you were at fault, you could be disadvantaged by not having reported it yourself.

Use this state-by-state breakdown to see if and when you’re required by law to report an accident.

Accident Reporting Requirements By State
State Accident must be reported if there is: Deadline
Alabama Death, injury, or property damage more than $500 by an uninsured motorist 30 days
Alaska Death, injury, or property damage more than $2,000 10 days
Arizona Death, injury, property damage more than $300, or if a settlement isn’t reached within 6 months 6 months
Arkansas Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000. Immediate (death or injury) or 30 days (property damage)
California Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000 10 days
Colorado Death, injury, or any property damage 10 days
Connecticut Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000 5 days
Delaware Death, injury, or property damage more than $500 Immediately
District of Columbia Property damage more than $250 5 days
Florida Death or injury, property damage more than $500 As soon as possible
Georgia Death, injury, or property damage more than $500 Immediately
Hawaii Death, injury, or property damage more than $3,000 Immediately
Idaho Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,500 Immediately
Illinois Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,500 or $500 if any vehicle is uninsured 10 days
Indiana Death, injury, or property damage more than $750 Immediately
Iowa Drivers are not required to submit a report for an accident with death, injury, or damage of $1,500 or more if the accident was investigated by the police. 3 days if report is required
Kansas Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,500 Immediately
Kentucky Death, injury, or property damage more than $500 10 days
Louisiana Death, injury, or property damage more than $500. If damage is more than $100, 1 day. Immediate or 1 day
Maine Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000 Immediately
Maryland Death or injury 15 days
Massachusetts Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000 5 days
Michigan Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000 Immediately
Minnesota Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000 10 days
Mississippi Death, injury, or property damage more than $500 10 days
Missouri Death, injury, or property damage more than $500 5 days
Montana Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000 Immediately
Nebraska Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000 10 days
Nevada All crashes Immediately
New Hampshire Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000 5 days
New Jersey Death, injury, or property damage more than $500 Immediately
New Mexico Death, injury, or property damage more than $500 Immediately
New York Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,500 10 days
North Carolina Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000 Immediately
North Dakota Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000. (No report is required for property damage only with an undomesticated animal.) Immediate
Ohio All crashes Immediately
Oklahoma Death, injury, or property damage more than $500. Immediate (death or injury) or 6 months (property damage)
Oregon
  • Injury or death
  • More than $2,500 in damage to driver’s vehicle
  • More than $2,500 in damage to any vehicle
  • Any vehicle is towed from the scene
  • More than $2,500 of any property (not including a vehicle)
  • If there’s any injury or fatality, an involved driver must call 911
72 hours
Pennsylvania Death, injury, or if vehicle is disabled 5 days
Rhode Island Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000 21 days
South Carolina Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000 15 days
South Dakota Death, injury, property damage more than $1,000 to one person’s property or $2,000 total property damage Immediately
Tennessee Death, injury, or property damage more than $50. Immediately (death, injury, or property damage between $50 and $400) or 20 days (death, injury, or property damage more than $400)
Texas Death, injury, or property damage of more than $1,000. Immediate (death or injury) or 10 days (property damage)
Utah Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000 10 days
Vermont Death, injury, or property damage more than $3,000 3 days
Virginia Death or injury Immediately
Washington Death, injury, or property damage more than $700 4 days
West Virginia Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000 Immediately
Wisconsin Death, injury, property damage more than $1,000, or government property damage of $200 or more Immediately to law enforcement by quickest means of communication
Wyoming Death, injury, or property damage more than $1,000 Immediately
Puerto Rico Injury or property damage 4 hours
Source: AAA Digest of Motor Laws

If you’ve been in an accident and you’re not sure what to do, there’s help. The Enjuris Personal Injury Law Firm Directory can help you find a car crash lawyer in your state who knows the rules and can guide you through the process of reporting and handling damages after an accident.

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