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Understanding Your California Traffic Collision Report

Costa Mesa car accident lawyer explains how to read this form

California car accidents can complicate life for months, even years after a crash. You or a loved one may be hurt. You may have lost a loved one. Insurance companies may try to pressure you into accepting a settlement worth less than you deserve.

With so much at stake, it's important to be fully informed. This often begins with your State of California Traffic Collision Report. As a special service to you, we are providing a sample document with our comments.

The information obtained by investigators at the scene of your accident and included in the report is often carefully reviewed by insurance companies. It's important to understand the information on your report. It may contain key evidence if you are pursuing a personal injury claim.

Review the information below and compare it to your accident report. If you have questions about the contents of your report, call the Costa Mesa Law Offices of Daniel C. Carlton at (949) 757-0707 or contact us online for a free case evaluation. Every discussion is personalized and confidential.

What information will I find on my accident report?


The date, time and location (county, city and district) of your accident are recorded at the top of your Traffic Collision Report. In addition, law enforcement officials record the number of people injured and killed in the accident, vehicle tow-away information and whether photographs were taken at the accident scene.

Driver and vehicle information is recorded by law enforcement officials.

Driver information includes:

  • Name, address and phone number
  • License number
  • Insurance carrier
  • Policy number

Vehicle information includes:

  • Make, model and color
  • License plate number
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Vehicle damage


If property damage is reported at the scene of the crash, the property owner's name, address, and description of damage are recorded by officers.

Law enforcement officials use check boxes to document different aspects of the accident scene. These include the following:

  • Collision type
  • Primary collision factors
  • Weather and light conditions
  • Road surface conditions
  • Traffic control device functionality
  • Cell phone involvement
  • Movement preceding the collision
  • Sobriety test results


Contact information for all witnesses, passengers and injury victims is collected at the scene of the car accident. Additional information is collected for each injury victim, including EMS and hospitalization information, seating position and whether the injury victim was ejected from a vehicle, was wearing proper safety equipment at the time of the crash, or suffered severe injuries.

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Accident investigators draw a pictorial diagram of how they think your accident occurred. This includes vehicle direction, intersections and traffic signals, and if skid marks were present at the scene of the accident. Review this information carefully. If you believe the officer's diagram contains errors, contact a personal injury lawyer immediately.

Click here to download a printable version of the California State Auto Accident Report.

If you were injured in a car accident, contact a Costa Mesa car accident attorney who cares. Call the Costa Mesa, CA Law Offices of Daniel C. Carlton at (949) 757-0707 or contact us online for your free case evaluation today.