Dealing with a car accident often involves a lot of decisions. You’ll have to choose how you act and respond at that scene, where you will go to repair your car, when you’ll call your insurance company and more. But you should know that delaying or avoiding steps in the accident follow-up process can cause even more problems.

One important state law you should consider, is that reporting the accident with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is a requirement in most car accidents. You will need to let the DMV know, by filing a specific form, that you were involved in accident when you, people in your car, or people in the other car face even slight injuries. You’ll need to file a report if the accident was fatal or there is at least $1,000 in property damage too.

What happens if I don’t file a report?

When injuries or costly damage happen because of a crash, drivers must notify the DMV within ten days. Keep in mind that the DMV report is separate from a report that a police officer who responded to the scene may file or an insurance claim that you file. However, your insurance company or a legal representative might take care of this aspect for you. Just be sure to double-check with everyone involved in your case, because not filing a report can lead to driver’s license suspension.

What information do I need to include in the report?

As you file out the form, you may need to reach out to the driver. This is because you’ll need to include their name, address, birthdate, phone number, insurance policy information, license plate number, driver’s license number and a description of their injuries and property damage. Although you’ll need to include a lot of details in the paperwork, there isn’t a portion where you must admit fault or give a play by play of the incident.

You shouldn’t blame yourself for the accident when speaking to anyone about the accident as you don’t want to sell yourself short when comes to claiming compensation. Just remember that you can go from no penalties for the accident to not being able to drive if you don’t carefully follow state laws.