Getting into a car accident can be a scary experience, and the aftermath can be incredibly confusing. Whether you are dealing with serious injuries after a crash or only sustained minor property damage, it is important to understand what Texas laws say about reporting car accidents. A car accident report is often a valuable part of the process when it comes to securing compensation for injury and damage expenses.
There is no denying that car accidents in Texas are a common occurrence. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 543,537 total crashes during the latest reporting year of data available. Out of these incidents, there were 3,639 total fatalities and approximately 250,000 injuries reported. While most car accidents led to only minor injuries or property damage, nearly every accident in Texas requires reporting.
Texas law is clear about when a car accident report is required. Texas Transportation Code §550.062 requires any law enforcement officer to complete the Peace Officer’s Crash Report (CR-3) if a motor vehicle crash results in injury or death of a person or damage to any property worth more than $1,000.
If a police officer fills out a crash report, anyone involved in the incident does not have to fill out a crash report of their own. The officer is required to submit the report to the DOT. While it may be tempting to not report an incident to police if it seems like there is only minor property damage, it is a good idea to call the police to the scene to document the incident and determine who was at fault. Even minor property damage could easily result in damages exceeding $1,000.
Failing to report an accident In Texas that resulted in an injury or property damage of more than $1,000 is punishable with jail time, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Again, you should seriously consider calling law enforcement to the scene of any accident and let them determine the severity. However, many people involved in minor incidents do not call the police, only later to realize that the damage was more than $1,000 or that medical treatment was needed for an injury.
In these cases, an alternative crash report should be filled out. This is known as a CR-2 Crash Report (Blue Form) and should be kept for your records. Previously, this form had to be filed directly with the Texas Department of Transportation, but a 2017 law changed that requirement. However, a CR-2 should still be filled out within 10 days of the accident to increase the likelihood that everything in the report is accurate. This incident can still help when filing a claim with your insurance carrier for any injuries or property damage.
Many drivers involved in an accident do not fill out reports or call the police because they think they were at least partially at fault for the incident and cannot receive compensation.
In Texas, there is a modified comparative negligence system in place. This means that a person can still recover compensation after an accident, even if they were partially at fault for the incident. Any party that is less than 51% responsible for a car accident can recover compensation, though their final settlement will be reduced based on their percentage of fault.
At Mike Love & Associates, LLC, we review your situation for free and spell out every option that may be available to you. If we can’t help there is no charge.