Millions of car accidents occur in the United States every year. The vast majority of those accidents are, thankfully, not serious or life threatening.
“Fender benders” can lead to surprisingly serious injuries and damage in some situations, but these may not be apparent right after the accident. That is part of the reason that Massachusetts, like many states, has a mandatory reporting law for certain types of car accidents.
What is a Mandatory Reporting Law for Car Accidents?
A mandatory reporting law requires that you tell authorities about a vehicle accident within a certain amount of time after the crash occurs. The major reason that states have this type of law is to hold people accountable after an accident if there are injuries, damage, or criminal consequences. Having this type of law in place forces people to collect information from one another as well.
Reporting Minor Car Accidents in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, this required report is called a “Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report.” Massachusetts law does not require that every accident be reported, but every crash that involves over $1,000 in damages to any one vehicle or to other property should be reported. If anyone was injured, even a minor injury, then the accident should be reported as well. Lastly, if anyone has passed away as a result of the accident, then that should be reported as well.
The Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report
Those involved in a minor car accident in Massachusetts must fill out the Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report within five days of the accident. This amount of time is extended if the person involved in the accident in physically incapable of filing it out because of incapacity. If a different person owns the vehicle than the person that was driving it, however, then the owner should file the report if the operator is incapacitated.
It should be filed with both the Registrar and the local police department. The police department should be the one where the accident occurred, which may not necessarily be the driver’s local police department. You should also send this report to your insurance company as well.
If you fail to file this report as required, then you can lose your license either temporarily or permanently.
The required form will ask basic information about the crash. This information is generally the same as what you would see on a police report. It includes:
- Location of the accident
- Description of the vehicle that you were driving
- Basic information about you and your passengers
- Information about the other driver/vehicle that was involved in the accident
- Any non-motorists that were involved in the accident
- Witness information
- Report of any property damage
- Conditions at the time of the crash
- Basic description of what happened or how the crash occurred
- Diagram of the crash
- Your signature
You may be missing some information if you were involved in a hit and run. However, the local police department is required to accept your form even if you are missing information in that type of situation. This rule applies even if the damage involved is less than $1,000.
Getting Legal Help
Even a minor car accident can result in some surprisingly serious, long-term injuries. For example, you may not realize that you have sustained a neck or back injury right away. Discuss your legal options with the Jim Glaser Law Firm by contacting us today.