How to Report an Accident in Each State

So, you just got into an accident. But should you report it? Here's a look at each state's reporting requirements.
Police officer talking with two young drivers after an accident.

When you get behind the wheel, accidents can happen. How you handle it after the fact is very important. You’ll likely face doing paperwork, filing insurance claims, and dealing with the other party that’s involved. Doing everything the right way can help lower your stress and possibly save you money.

One of the most common steps after a collision is reporting it to the DMV and police. Each state has its own requirements for how and when you should report an accident. Some might not even need you to report it at all, except in certain conditions. You must know when you need to report an accident in your state, so that you don’t accidentally commit a crime or incur fines.

This article will teach you how to file a report in your state. You’ll learn what each state’s requirements are for reporting accidents. This includes when or if you’ll need to do it. We’ll tell you about the criteria that states use in their reporting requirements. We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about accident reporting.

Who to File a Report With

After an accident, you may need to file a report. There isn’t just one place that you need to file with. In many cases, you’ll need to file a police report. But you may need to file with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Who you’ll need to report the accident to depends on your state’s reporting requirements. States have certain conditions that’ll require you to file a police or DMV report.

Whenever the police arrive on the scene, there will be a report coming along with their presence. It’s best to wait for the police to arrive at the scene of the accident. This way, you’ll have a police report on file, which can help you later on with filing any car insurance claims.

When You May Need to File

You may need to report your accident to the police or the DMV. But how do you know if you need to? Every state has a set of requirements for when and if you need to report a car accident. Many of them share similar requirements, but you should check your state’s requirements if you find yourself in an accident. This way you’ll know for sure about when you should file a report.

Some common accident conditions warrant a report, though. Here’s a list of the most common factors that states consider in their reporting requirements:

  • Whether the accident results in injury or death. When a death or injury occurs, the police will need a report. This is a requirement in every state.
  • Time limit. Many states give you a certain amount of time to file a report after the accident has occurred.
  • The total cost of damages. When the damages exceed a certain amount, you may need to file a report with either the police or the DMV. Some states don’t include this. But many others do. In states that do include it, you won’t need to file a report if the damages are less than the minimum amount and there are no injuries.

The Police May Have Already Filed a Report

The police may already file a report with the DMV for you. When the police create a report for your accident, they will automatically file a report with the DMV. There’s no need to worry about filing a report if this is the case. You’ll only need to do so if there’s no police report.

The police will also file a report with the DMV if your accident results in a ticket or violation. This is because that ticket will end up on your driving record and the DMV will want to know about it.

Though, the police may not file a report with the DMV in time. You’ll have to keep track of the report and make sure that the DMV has it on time. So, if you think the police won’t send it in time, you’ll have to file your own report.

State-by-State Reporting Requirements

Each state has its own accident reporting requirements. This includes a time limit that you have to submit a report. Not submitting a report in time may be a misdemeanor in some states. The table below will help you understand your state’s requirements so that you know when to file a report.

StateReporting RequirementsTime Limit
AlabamaDeath, injury, or property damages of at least $25030 days
AlaskaDeath, injury, or property damages of at least $2,00010 days
ArizonaDeath, injury, or property damages of at least $2,000Within 24 hours
ArkansasDeath, injury, or property damages of at least $1,00030 days
CaliforniaDeath, injury, or property damages of at least $1,00010 days
ColoradoDeath, injury, or any property damagesImmediately
ConnecticutDeath, injury, or any property damages5 days
DelawareDeath, injury, property damages of at least $2,000, or driver was impairedImmediately
FloridaDeath, injury, or property damages of at least $500Immediately
GeorgiaDeath, injury, or property damages of at least $500Immediately
HawaiiDeath, injury, or property damages of at least $3,000Within 24 hours
IdahoDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,500Immediately
IllinoisDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,50010 days
IndianaDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,000Immediately
IowaDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,500 (unless the police have already filed a report)Immediately
KansasDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,000Immediately
KentuckyDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $500 (unless the police have already filed a report)10 days
LouisianaDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $500Immediately
MaineDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,000Immediately
MarylandDeath or injury15 days
MassachusettsDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,0005 days
MichiganDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,000Immediately
MinnesotaDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,00010 days
MississippiDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $25010 days
MissouriDeath, injury, property damage of at least $500, or an uninsured motorist was involved.5 days
MontanaDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,00010 days
NebraskaDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,50010 days
NevadaDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $75010 days
New HampshireDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,00015 days
New JerseyDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $500 (unless the police already filed a report)10 days
New MexicoDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $5005 days
New YorkDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,00010 days
North CarolinaDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,000Immediately
North DakotaDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $4,000Immediately
OhioDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,0005 days
OklahomaDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $5006 months or immediately if any injuries or deaths occur
OregonDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $2,5003 days
PennsylvaniaDeath, injury, or so much damage to the car that it can’t drive on its own5 days
Puerto RicoDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,0004 hours
Rhode IslandDeath, injury, or so much damage to the car that it can’t drive on its ownImmediately
South CarolinaDeath or injuryImmediately
South DakotaDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $2,000Immediately
TennesseeDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,50020 days
TexasDeath, injury, or so much damage to the car that it can’t drive on its ownImmediately
UtahDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $2,50010 days
VermontDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $3,0003 days
VirginiaDeath or injuryImmediately
WashingtonDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $7004 days
West VirginiaDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,000Immediately
WisconsinDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,000Immediately
WyomingDeath, injury, or property damage of at least $1,000Immediately

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need to report a minor accident?

A: You may have to file a report for a minor car accident. It depends on the state that you live in. Most states have a property damage threshold for when you need to report your accident. If your state has a certain damage threshold and you’re under that number, no report should be necessary. Keep in mind that any accident with injuries or death will always need a report.

Q: When do I need to report an accident?

A: This will depend on your state. All states have some sort of deadline for you to file an accident report with the DMV or police. In many states, you must immediately file the report. But in others, you might have a few days or even weeks to do so.  

Q: Who’s responsible for reporting an accident?

A: In general, you’re responsible for reporting your accident. But the police may also file a report when they arrive at the scene. If this is the case, the police will also file a report with the DMV. Though, it may not arrive by the deadline. It’s a good idea to file your own report with the DMV just in case the police’s one doesn’t arrive.

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