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Do You Have to Report a Car Accident in Washington?

July 27, 2023

No one expects to experience a car accident when they go about their usual daily commutes to work, school, or out to run errands, but sadly, there were 103,180 car accidents in Washington in 2022 with 29,564 injuries and 704 fatalities.

If you’ve experienced a car accident in Washington, it’s important to understand the laws and how they apply to you. All drivers in Washington must know when they need to file an accident report, how to file the report, and how long they have to file, as well as what information goes on their driving record.

Do You Have to Report a Car Accident in Washington?

Is It Ever Okay to Not Call the Police After an Accident?

According to the Washington Department of Transportation, it isn’t always necessary to call the police if you’ve had a minor collision with minimal damage and no injuries. For instance, most parking lot fender-benders do not require police presence or emergency services. Instead, involved drivers should do the following:

The online reporting service allows those who’ve been involved in minor accidents to report the collision through an online form they can fill out and submit. Your form will include the following:

  • Your name and address
  • Your vehicle registration number
  • Information about your current insurance coverage
  • An explanation of the accident details
  • Weather and road conditions at the time of your accident

If you don’t have liability insurance coverage in place when the accident occurred, your license may be suspended.

When to Report a Car Accident in Washington

Though you don’t always have to call the police after a car accident if it’s minor and there are no injuries, you do have to report your car accident to the state’s Department of Transportation within 4 days of the event. If the accident caused $700 or more in property damage, and/or there are injuries or fatalities, then drivers must do the following:

  • Never leave the scene of the accident
  • Call 911 to report the accident to the police and request emergency services
  • Render any reasonable aid and comfort to injury victims
  • Accept emergency transport to the hospital if you are injured

When police respond to the scene of an accident, the investigating officer files the collision report so you don’t have to file one separately.

In the event that no police officer investigates the collision but there were injuries and/or property damage in excess of $700 occurred, you must report the accident within 4 days.

What Goes on My Driving Record After I Report an Accident in Washington?

When a collision causes bodily injury and/or results in $1,000 or more in property damage, information about the accident becomes a part of the driving record of all involved drivers. This information includes:

  • The date of the collision
  • The number of involved vehicles
  • Whether or not the accident involved injuries or fatalities
  • The accident report number

The above information does not include who was at fault in the accident.

In the event of a collision caused by an uninsured motorist, if a driver has unpaid damages they can report it to the Washington Department of Transportation through an online claim form within 180 days of the accident. If the at-fault driver does not pay for damages, it results in the suspension of their driver’s license.

If you have legal questions about your car accident, how to report your accident, or need assistance in understanding your rights and obligations, a Seattle car accident attorney can help.

The Fang Law Firm offers 100% remote and contactless meetings & representation.