How do I File a Hit & Run Auto Accident Report in California?

by Darryl James

Getting into an accident can be frustrating. Having the other driver leave the scene before exchanging information can be a nightmare. A hit and run accident occurs when one driver neglects to stop at the scene of an accident. California is notorious for hit and run accidents with the largest percentage of drivers leaving accident scenes where someone dies, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which also reports that hit-and-run accidents are currently on the rise in the state.

Call Emergency

Dial 911 from your cell phone. If you don't have one, find the nearest pay phone, or ask a bystander to use his cell phone. If the accident occurred on the highway, emergency call boxes are usually available. Tell the 911 operator that you've been involved in a hit-and-run accident and that you want to file a report. If the police refuse to show up, visit the nearest police station and demand that a report be taken.

Write down any information on the fleeing driver, including the make, model and color of car, as well as the license plate and physical description of the driver if you have it. Also note the details of the accident and any witnesses that may be available.

Submit a Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California (Form SR 1) to the Department of Motor Vehicles if there is more than $750 in property damage or personal injury or if anyone was killed. California Vehicle Code mandates that accidents involving more than $750 in damage or injury be reported within ten days, even if you do not have the other driver's information. You can pick up form SR 1 at any DMV location, a California Highway Patrol office or on the Internet (www.dmv.ca.gov). The SR 1 form is available at DMV field offices, at CHP offices, or online. This report is required whether you caused the collision or not, and even if the collision occurred on private property.

Report the accident to the police. A driver leaving the scene of an accident is committing a serious crime. California Vehicle Code mandates that all vehicles causing damage or personal injury must stop immediately and provide insurance and driver's license information or be punished with imprisonment and/or a fine. And, if someone is killed, the driver must report the accident to the police or the CHP within 24 hours.

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About the Author

Darryl James, a syndicated columnist and freelance writer in the Los Angeles area has written for more than 15 years for "New York Newsday," "Pittsburgh Courier," "The Los Angeles Sentinel," "Women's Wear Daily," "Apparel News," "Rap Sheet" and more. James has written books and has just finished his first screenplay.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera traffic accident 3 image by Jim Parkin from Fotolia.com