How to Obtain a California Accident Report

Car Accidents | April 19, 2024

Nearly every vehicle accident that occurs in California must be reported to law enforcement officials. Those involved need to obtain this report in order to proceed forward with any insurance claim, regardless of whether they were at fault or not. Insurance carriers are almost certainly going to require the accident report before they proceed forward with a claim. Here, we want to review the steps you can take to obtain your California accident report.

Getting Your Accident Report After a Crash

One of the first steps to take after a vehicle accident occurs in California is to ensure you have your accident report in hand before filing a claim. Assuming that law enforcement officials came to the scene of the incident, the steps to recovering your accident report begin with the CHP 190 – Collision Request Form (PDF). This form will be filled out online and printed out or printed and filled out by hand.


The good news is that the California Highway Patrol provides clear instructions related to this form and what to do with it after you fill it out. You can find these instructions on the general information page of their website by clicking here, and this will also take you to the form we have previously linked above.

Only a “Party of Interest” is allowed to obtain a copy of the accident report. For example, it needs to be somebody directly related to the incident, whether that be the driver, passenger, a vehicle owner, a property owner, or the parent or guardian of a minor involved.

By filling out the instructions on that page with the appropriate form, you should be able to quickly obtain your vehicle accident report from the state of California. In order to verify that you are a party of interest in the case, you will be asked to submit a photocopy of your driver’s license or ID card for verification. In the event you do not have a photocopy of your driver’s license or ID card, the signature on the document you submit to the state must be notarized by a licensed notary.

Individuals can also obtain the vehicle accident report in person. They will still need to fill out and print the form we previously discussed and visit the closest California Highway Patrol office to them. The CHP has a search tool that allows individuals to find the closest office available.

California law requires all drivers to report a vehicle accident that causes injuries, death, or property damage valued at $1,000 or more. The vehicle accident report will typically be available within a week or two after the incident occurs.

What if the Police Didn’t Come to the Scene?

If the police do not come to the scene of an accident, but the accident still meets the requirements for reporting, those involved are still required to submit a report to the DMV about the incident within 10 days. Additionally, if a crash caused injuries or a fatality, the Highway Patrol must be notified as well.

It is your best interest to report every accident that occurs and let law enforcement officials decide how they want to proceed. This not only covers your bases when it comes to following the law, but also ensures the accident report gets completed and turned over to the state so you can obtain it later on.