North Carolina Car Accident Report Basics

It was just a small fender bender that was over in the blink of an eye. Do you really need to report it? The answer may surprise you. Although North Carolina law does not require a police report for accidents without bodily injury or significant property damage, it's often difficult to estimate damages at a crash site.

Calling the police to make an accident report can be an important first step, even if damages are settled without the insurance company getting involved. If the police aren't called, you can create your own accident report to keep in your personal records. Here's what you need to know about North Carolina car accident reporting basics.

How to File a Car Crash Report in North Carolina

This chart provides a summary of North Carolina laws and procedures for filing a car crash report.

State Accident Statutes
When to Report a Crash to the Police
  • North Carolina law says you must call the police when:
  • Accident occurred in a city that requires a report
  • Any person was injured or killed
  • Any one person suffered more than $1,000 in property damage
  • It is required by your insurance company
Filing Crash Report

Note: Laws are subject to change. It's important to verify the information you read about by conducting your own research or consulting with a North Carolina attorney.

When Does an Accident Need to be Reported?

North Carolina law requires the driver of a vehicle involved in a serious accident to immediately notify local law enforcement. A reportable accident is a crash that causes injury or death to any person or property damage of at least $1,000. An otherwise reportable car accident that occurs on private property does not necessarily need to be reported.

If the accident occurred in a city, then the appropriate agency to contact is the city's police department. If the accident outside city limits, the appropriate agency is the North Carolina Highway Patrol or county sheriff's office. In any circumstances, when you dial 911, your emergency will be routed to the proper agency.

Do the Police Always File an Accident Report?

North Carolina law requires law enforcement to investigate a "reportable accident" and make a written report within 24 hours of the accident. Cities and counties may respond to less serious accidents. All accident reports must be filed with the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles and a copy can be requested for a $5 fee. The report must provide the following information:

  • The cause of the crash
  • Conditions existing at the time of the crash
  • People and vehicles involved
  • Whether the vehicle was seized or subject to forfeiture under G.S. 20-28.2.
  • Insurance information for the vehicle driven by the person who the officer identified as at fault for the accident

Creating an Accident Report

When weather or other circumstances keep law enforcement from coming to the scene of your accident, you might need to file a report yourself.

North Carolina does not have a crash report form for public use, so when drafting your report be sure to include:

  • Description of the crash, including how many people were in both cars
  • Name and insurance information of everyone involved
  • Names of witnesses and their detailed accounts of the crash
  • Details about damages and injuries
  • Diagram of the accident scene
  • Photos of damage and video statements

Learn About Your Accident Claim with a Free Review

Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be intense. Insurance companies are not always on your side. In North Carolina, you have the right to hire a private attorney to represent your interests in an accident claim, even it's against your own insurance company. Receive a free claim review from a local attorney to learn how North Carolina law applies to the facts of your claim.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.