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How to Read Your California Car Accident Report

After a crash in California, you need to look at the evidence that will affect the outcome of your claim, and one of your most important pieces of evidence is the Traffic Collision Report (CHP 555) that the investigating police officer fills out. Insurance companies use this report to determine fault, and the investigating officer will most likely refer to the report if called to testify in a deposition and at trial.

Knowing what’s in your report is critical. Here’s how to read it.

California Traffic Collision Report (CHP 555)

https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/ca_chp555_sub6_2012.pdf

California Accident Report page 1

Page 1

The top section provides an overview of the accident, including location, date and time, and whether it was a hit and run, as well as the investigating officer.

Click here to download a printable PDF of How to Read Your California Car Accident Report.

Each party listed on this page is a vehicle involved in the crash. On the left side you’ll find contact and license information for the driver; on the right side, you’ll find information on the vehicles themselves.

California Accident Report page 2

Page 2

Information at the top of this page (date of collision, officer ID, etc.) should match the first page.

>Any non-vehicle property damage is listed here.

>The rest of page 2 details the type of collision and the conditions or circumstances that may have contributed to it. Pay particular attention to the “Special Information” and “Sobriety” sections, as they contain information that often establishes negligence.

<California Accident Report page 3

Page 3

Information at the top of this page (date of collision, officer ID, etc.) should match the previous pages.

Page 3 details the various individuals who were involved in or witnessed the crash, including their role, contact information, and a description of any injuries.

This page creates the first record of any injuries that were noticeable immediately after the crash. Note that some injuries have delayed symptoms, so even someone who isn’t listed as injured in the report may still be hurt.

California Accident Report page 4

Page 4

Information at the top of this page (date of collision, officer ID, etc.) should match the previous pages.

The rest of page 4 is a pictorial diagram of how the accident unfolded. Look closely at the diagram and ensure that it matches your memory of the crash.

Car Accidents Assistance Accident Report

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