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What to do After a Car Accident in Washington D.C.

Last updated: October 14, 2016

There's nothing ordinary about driving in D.C. We have restricted areas, frequent road closures, lots of visitors, eye catching monuments, and some of the best radio in the country -- all of which serve to add to the likelihood of driver confusion and distracted driving. Car accidents are bound to happen, and are nothing to be ashamed of. The best you can do is to learn the law and be prepared for unexpected. FindLaw is here to walk you through what to do after a car accident in Washington D.C.

Stop and Check

After a collision, each driver must stop immediately and check for injuries. If someone is hurt, you must call 9-1-1 if necessary. Also, remain at the scene until a law enforcement officer shows up. When the officer arrives, show your identifying information. If another person's property has been damaged, you must show your "identifying information." In most jurisdictions, this generally means showing your driver license and vehicle registration number. Failure to stop and check can cause you to be charged with a crime and possibly fined or incarcerated. See D.C. Code Section 50-2201.05c for more details. See FindLaw for more general tips on what to do after a crash.

File an Accident Report

The DC DMV instructs drivers to always file an accident report with the Metropolitan Police Department. The Department requires you to phone-in the report. Do NOT file an online report. If you called 9-1-1 at the time of an accident, and an officer showed up, you do not have to file an additional report. If you are reporting at a later time, and there is no current emergency, call (202) 727-4106. When you are done reporting a crash, ask for the six-digit identifying number and save it for your records.

If you have a legal dispute following an collision, you may need a copy of the accident report. You may request a copy by mail or in person. In either case, you must provide the six-digit accident number. If you don't have it, provide:

  1. your name,
  2. date of the request,
  3. date and time of the accident, and
  4. location of the accident.

If requesting by mail, send a letter with the above information, a self-addressed and stamped envelope, and a money order for $3 (payable to "DC Treasurer") to:

Metropolitan Police Department
Public Documents Unit
ATTN: Accident/Incident Reports
300 Indiana Avenue, NW, Room 3075
Washington, DC 20001

If visiting in person, go to the MPDC Headquarters at the above address. You must bring a government-issued photo ID.

Contact Your Insurer

The District of Columbia is a "no-fault" car insurance jurisdiction. The DMV instructs drivers to notify their insurance company in the event of an accident. This is the first step in recovering for any expenses related to an injury or property damage. You will only contact another driver's insurance if you have suffered series, long-term injuries or the medical costs of an injury exceed the benefits under your own insurance. Talk to your provider or a local Washington lawyer for more details.

Get a Free Case Assessment

If you need help sorting out what to do after a car accident in Washington D.C. professional assistance can be very helpful. A lawyer can help identify any possible claims and guide you through the various legal processes. Get started by scheduling a free consultation to discuss your accident with an experienced local attorney.