Should California drivers call police after a minor car accident in San Diego?

California – February 5, 2023

Drivers who have been in a car accident that did not involve other vehicles may not need to call police because their own insurance carrier will be responsible for damages to property and/or payments to cover minor medical treatment related to the accident.  However, it would be beneficial to take pictures of the scene, and any damage to a vehicle along with securing documentation of a medical evaluation after an accident so a complete claim can be filed with an insurance company. Drivers who are uncertain of the process should speak to a San Diego car accident lawyer.

Call to law enforcement may be beneficial.

If an accident involves other cars or individuals, drivers may want to call police after a minor accident because they may be uneasy about another driver’s actions. For example, if the other driver seems to be drunk or under the influence of drugs, police should be called to the scene to quietly evaluate the other driver. If the accident was caused by a DUI incident, it may be wise to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer.

It is important to document relevant pictures of the scene and vehicles and note information of other parties or circumstances involved in the crash. Drivers may also need a police report when they file an insurance claim. If that is the case, make sure the officer provides a written statement of their findings at the accident scene, making note of the following information:

  • The officer’s name,
  • The officer’s badge number,
  • The officer’s phone number,
  • The police report number.

Obligation to call law enforcement.

Police should be called after a California accident to file a report if anyone is injured, or property damage exceeds $750. It may be prudent to call police if you are uncertain regarding property damage thresholds, or if you cannot estimate that the accident only caused minor repair damage to a vehicle and in some cases, if you feel uneasy with the other driver or their post-accident actions when you are exchanging pertinent information. Sometimes damage will not be able to be assessed unless the underbody of a vehicle is looked at by autobody professionals.

  • Accident parties should never admit fault by apologizing for a driving mistake they may have made.
  • Cooperate fully with other driver and police requests that are reasonable. Stick with your version of the facts and do not sign documents unless they are for law enforcement at the scene or individually owned insurance claims.
  • Never take compensation or promises from other drivers at the scene separate from damage reported on an insurance claim.
  • Take pictures and notes. Use a cell phone to take photos of property damage, scene, and obvious injuries.
  • Exchange essential information such as the other driver’s license information, license plate and model of car, insurance information, policy number and phone number of agent.
  • Contact insurance company to initiate a claim action.

Fender benders may not need to be reported but then drivers may be in danger of suffering invisible injuries in the future that were caused in that accident and may have limited recourse to collect related damage compensation. If an injury can be related back to a car crash, then a California personal injury attorney may be able to help.

When to hire a lawyer.

Experienced car accident lawyers should be contacted shortly after a vehicle accident to discuss concerns, and request guidance in accordance with the California statute of limitations for accidents.  Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey E. Estes & Associates for assistance with accident-related litigation or hurdles to securing insurance compensation after a San Diego accident.

Jeffrey E. Estes & Associates, a Professional Law Corporation

501 West Broadway, Suite 1650

San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: 619-233-8021

Fax: 619-233-3730


  1. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&sectionNum=23152
  2. https://www.courts.ca.gov/9618.htm?rdeLocaleAttr=en
  3. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/vehicle-registration/insurance-requirements/
  4. Law section (ca.gov)






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