How Long Do You Have to Report a Car Accident?

Getting a police accident report

The answer to how long do you have to report a car accident isn’t necessarily cut-and-dry. In fact, the right answer depends on a number of different factors, such as the severity of the accident, whether anyone was injured, whether a police report was filed or not, and so on.

However, there are some standard rules under Texas law that do need to be followed when it comes to reporting car accidents. Here’s what you need to know about how long you have to report a car accident, when you can get away with not reporting one, and when you have no choice — even if the police aren’t involved.

Meeting the Threshold for a Car Accident Report

In Texas, there are a few reasons why there may be no need to file an accident report in the first place. State law requires a certain threshold to be met before a crash report is necessary, and this threshold is set at damages to vehicles exceeding $1000 in value. Alternatively, even if there isn’t enough damage to any of the vehicles involved in the accident, if the crash results in either physical injuries or death to anyone involved, this also necessitates a car accident report.

This means that in the event of a fender bender where no one was hurt, you’re fully within the law if both you and the other driver decline a car accident report. This can be helpful if you decide to resolve the situation without getting your insurance companies involved, especially since even the smallest claim can result in your insurance premiums increasing afterward.

The 10-Day Standard

Car accidents that meet the damage or injury threshold are a different matter altogether. These need to be reported within 10 days of the date of the accident. This limit applies to police officers who fill out and file an accident report at the scene of the crash. In this case, the responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of the responding officer and not on yourself — you have nothing to worry about except whether the details of the police report are accurate.

However, there are instances where the police do not show up to fill out a report on their own. In this case, it’s the drivers that are involved in the accident that is responsible for reporting the crash within that 10-day period. Ideally, you and the other driver or drivers should each be submitting a report, but thankfully you are only responsible for submitting your own report to the Texas Department of Transportation and not ensuring that anyone else submits theirs.

What a Crash Report Should Contain

crash report documents

If your car accident meets the damage or injury threshold but didn’t result in a police report being filed, you’re on the hook for reporting the crash to the Texas DOT. While the DOT has a specific form you’ll need to fill out known as the CR2, your crash report needs to contain several important details. The information you’ll need, either on the form directly or in addition, includes the following:

Other Things to Keep in Mind When it Comes to Accident Reports

Car crashes are traumatic events. Even if it’s just a relatively minor accident, the aftermath of a car crash can reverberate for days or weeks afterward as you scramble to get your life back to a semblance of stability. Making sure that you ensure an accident report is filed in a timely manner whenever appropriate is an important step in regaining some of that stability. In fact, the car accident report plays a number of roles in getting your life back on track.

In the event of a car insurance claim, the accident report is often looked to as a primary official document, especially if it’s in the form of a police report. This makes it crucial to ensure that you not only receive a copy of a police report (something you’re entitled to) but that the information contained within is accurate. If the record needs to be corrected, be sure to approach the officer who filed the report and inform them so that they can file an amended version of their report.

The Final Recap on How Long You Have to Report a Car Accident

Whenever you’re involved in a car accident where there’s more than $1000 worth of property damage or where there’s an injury or death, it’s a legal requirement to file a car accident report. You have a total of 10 days from the date of the accident to file the report, and the document can and often will be used by car insurance companies to help resolve any insurance claims in the future.

In the event that the police respond to the accident, the responding officer will fill out a report and submit it themselves. If the police aren’t called, then the responsibility for submitting a report falls on your shoulders. If you’re submitting a report yourself, be sure to submit as much information about the accident and the drivers as possible; if the police are submitting the report for you, ensure that all the information they gather is accurate.