Did You Report Your Last Auto
Accident To The DMV?

Auto InsuranceIf you have had an auto accident lately, you are certain to have notified your auto insurance company. You may even have gotten the police involved. There is one responsibility, however, that you might not have considered: that of filing an accident report with your local Department of Motor Vehicles.

This may come as a shock to some. Few people care to publicize every fender-bender, and many find it strange that the DMV would need or even care to know. Nevertheless, nearly every state in the union insists that you file a report if the accident in question:

  • Caused injury to at least one individual.
  • Resulted in one or more fatalities.
  • Produced property damage of a particular type or in excess of a certain dollar amount.

These requirements are general in nature. While most DMVs are interested in hearing about your accident, various states tend to have different ideas about exactly what types of mishap they deem reportable.

State-Specific Variables

While accidents involving physical harm or death are always reportable, the requirements for filing a DMV account in all other cases will differ widely between the various states. For example:

  • In the state of Oregon, anyone involved in an accident causing more than $1,500 of property damage to at least one vehicle might have to file a DMV report, but only if the affected vehicle or vehicles later required a tow.
  • In the state of Wisconsin, you must report an accident that has caused an item of government property other than a vehicle to suffer damage valued in excess of $200.
  • In the state of New York, every driver involved in an accident must file a report if one or more has sustained at least $1,001 worth of property damage.
  • In the state of Pennsylvania, every party to a vehicular accident must complete the DMV report if at least one of the vehicles in question required a tow.

A check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles will help make sense of these discrepancies.

Who Must File the DMV Report?

In determining the criteria for filing a DMV accident report, the various states often differ on more than just the point at which the type and value of property damage become relevant. They also disagree about who is responsible for filing.

In the majority of cases that call for the report, the police who respond to the accident will be the ones to file it. Nevertheless, depending on the state in which you need to file, there may be times when this becomes your own responsibility. For example:

  • In Wisconsin, you must submit your own report when the police are unable to do so.
  • In Nevada, you must personally file an SR-1 form within 10 days following any accident that has caused more than $750 worth of property damage and to which the police have failed to respond.
  • In Oregon, you must file on your own if the car you were driving sustained more than $1,500 in damages. Furthermore, if either or both of the cars involved required a tow, each of the drivers must file.
  • In New Hampshire, the police must file when an accident to which they respond engenders in excess of $1,000 of total property damage.
  • In any state, it’s imperative that either you or the police file a DMV report if the other driver proves to be uninsured.

If you’re involved in an accident involving injury, death or property damage, it’s vital to find out exactly which rules apply in your case.

Meeting Your Requirements

The window for filing the DMV report will also vary from one state to another. While some give you only hours to accomplish the task, others allow several weeks. Regardless of the cutoff date, it’s best to file as soon after the accident as possible. Anyone who fails to meet the deadline can face a fine or license suspension.

When such a diversity of regulations exist across the nation, it is vital that anyone involved in a vehicular accident become familiar with the requirements of the state in question. If you are uncertain, a call to your local DMV office should shed some light on the situation.