Do I Need to Contact the Police After a Motorcycle Accident in California?

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, it’s important to know what steps to take afterward – both for your safety and to ensure you can receive compensation for damages. One of the crucial things to do after any accident is to contact the police and file a report. Particularly in the case of a motorcycle accident, you will want law enforcement to investigate and document what happened.

In California, you are required by law to file a police report if the accident caused any injuries or fatalities. If the accident only caused damage to your motorcycle, you may not be required to file a report, but it’s still a good idea since it can be important evidence if you need to file an insurance claim or sue the other party.

Reporting to Police

Within 24 hours of the accident, you should go to the nearest police department or California Highway Patrol (CHP) office to file your report. Usually, the police will come to the accident scene if it’s reported that there are injuries or fatalities. But, if the accident only caused property damage, you would likely need to go to the police station to file your report.

To qualify for a DMV, resulting damages should amount to a minimum of $1,000, in addition to injuries or fatalities. You need to do this within 10 days after the incident, even if police appeared at the scene. This can be done by mail, online, or in person at DMV offices.   

What to Expect

Similar to most states, the police report will document basic information about the accident, such as the date, time, and location of the accident; the names, addresses, and driver’s license numbers of those involved; the insurance information for all parties; and a description of the vehicles involved. The motorcycle accident police report will also note any citations that were given at the scene of the accident. These could be for traffic violations, such as speeding, or for mechanical violations, such as having defective brakes. The police report will not, however, assign fault for the accident. That will be up to you, your insurance company, or the court, if you end up filing a lawsuit.

Engaging an Attorney

Depending on the severity of the accident, consider hiring a motorcycle accident attorney to help you understand your legal rights. If the accident caused serious injuries, you will require assistance to navigate the complex insurance claims process and, if necessary, file a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney can also help if the police report is inaccurate or if the other driver is trying to blame you for the accident, even though you weren’t at fault.


In short, you should always contact the police after a motorcycle accident, especially if there are injuries or fatalities. If the accident only caused damage to your motorcycle, you may not be required to file a report, but it’s still a good idea. An attorney will clarify your legal rights and is your best option for receiving fair compensation.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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